Database management

The 12 best features of Microsoft Access for managing databases

Database management can be repetitive and hectic if you don’t use the right tool. With Microsoft Access, maintaining a relationship database becomes easy.

Read on to learn more about Microsoft Access and its main elements and features.

What is Microsoft Access?

Microsoft Access is a robust productivity tool included with the Microsoft 365 suite. In this database, you can record, view, edit, and track data. You can even establish a relationship between the data.

Besides storing a large amount of information, it makes it easier to retrieve and use data on different platforms. Microsoft Access also supports integration with other tools for effortless data synchronization. Some of its main components are tables, forms, reports, and queries.

1. Backstage view

An image of MS Access Backstage View

The Microsoft Access Backstage view is what you see when you start the Access software but do not open a database. With the Backstage view of Microsoft Access, users can perform many database management tasks, including opening an existing database and creating a new one.

Its menu panel contains commands that you can apply to a database file. From its File ribbon, you can choose from its templates to create a new file.

2. Database

An image of the MS Access database

Microsoft Access is a database management system (DBMS) that allows you to create and manage large databases. A database helps you keep information in an organized manner.

A database file created in Microsoft Access 2007 or later versions comes with the file extension named ACCDB, while databases created in earlier versions of Access are called MDB.


Typically, all the tables in an Access database, along with other objects, such as forms, reports, macros, and modules, are stored in a single file.

3. Relations

A visualization of MS access relationships

By establishing relationships, you can create a connection between two different tables. A relationship involves fields from two tables that contain matching data.

Related: How to Create Relationships Between Multiple Tables Using a Data Model in Excel

For example, the Student ID field in the Student Data table can be connected to a field of the same name in the Student Results table. Relationships help prevent missing data and quickly determine the results of a query.

4. Primary keys

An image showing the MS Access primary key

When it comes to significantly associating and combining data from multiple tables in Microsoft Access, you should use the primary key field. The primary key of one table is the foreign key of another table. We can add the primary key field in other tables to refer to the source table of the primary key.

5. Tables

A visual of MS Access tables

Access tables look like an Excel spreadsheet containing rows and columns. But in Microsoft Access, rows and columns are called records and fields.

Plus, it stores data differently than a spreadsheet. You need to create a table to track each type of information. This process is called normalization. It helps you avoid redundancies and makes a database flexible.

6. Forms

A visualization of MS Access forms

Microsoft Access forms allow you to view, enter, and edit data one row at a time. Usually a form contains command buttons and controls for performing other tasks, such as sending data to another tool.

Using forms, you can control how a person interacts with information in the database. You can find form creation tools on the To create access ribbon menu tab. Here you can design your own form by designing a blank form. But the best option is to go through the form wizard.

7. Reports

A visual of MS Access reports

You can use Access reports to format, compile, and present data. Usually, it contains answers to a specific question. Run a report anytime to get the updated database information.

It is also possible to format a report to present the data in the most efficient way. You can format it to view, print, export, or send as an email attachment.

Related: What is Microsoft SharePoint? Features and benefits of its use

8. Queries

An image of MS Access queries

The function of a query is to retrieve data that meets specific conditions from tables. You can also use it to perform predefined calculations. On the Access desktop app, you can use queries to update or delete multiple records at the same time.

There are two types of queries: select queries and action queries. While a select query allows users to view, copy, and print the retrieved data, an action query can perform a task with the data.

9. Macro

A macro is a tool that automates tasks and adds functionality to various parts of the database, including forms, reports, and controls. This is a program for automating manual tasks such as opening a report, running a query, copy and paste, and table formatting in Access that you do on a regular basis. .

For example, by attaching a macro to a command button, you can ensure that the macro runs when you click that button.

Related: How to Start Using Macros in Word

10. Modules

A module is a set of declarations and procedures that add functionality to your database. These statements are brought together as a unit. You must use VBA language to write modules.

There can be class modules or standard modules. Class modules are associated with forms and reports, while standard modules are not attached to any object.

11. Input masks

Input masks indicate the valid format of your input value in a field. However, this feature is only available for Access desktop databases.

Input masks can ensure consistency of the entered value, especially in value-sensitive fields such as phone numbers and postal codes. It contains a mandatory part and two optional parts, each separated by a semicolon.

12. Validation rules

You can use these rules to validate the data that you enter into a database. The Expression Builder can help you format the rule precisely. Microsoft Access offers two types of validation rules:

Field validation rule

If you set a validation rule for a field, Access prevents you from leaving that field unless you enter a valid value. Suppose you add > = # 12/01/2021 # in the property of Validation rule of the date field. In this case, you need to enter dates only from December 1, 2021.

Record validation rule

You can use it to control when you can save a recording. This rule takes into account the other fields of the same table and compares their values.

Microsoft Access for relational database management

When it comes to managing a relational database, Microsoft Access offers a seamless solution for business users. This article has covered the basic functionality of Microsoft Access, reading which will give you a basic idea of ​​the tool.

If you want to learn how to create a simple database using Microsoft Access, see the following article.

A workstation with a desktop on which the Access application is open

How to Create a Database in Microsoft Access: A Step-by-Step Guide

Want to build a simple database on Microsoft Access to hone your database skills? Here is a step by step guide on how to do it.

Read more

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