Microsoft Access is a relational database that provides a database backend, as well as front end tools and user interface.

MS Access is a member of the Microsoft Office Suite but (for some goofy reason) is not available for Macs.

MS Access uses tables, queries, forms, reports, and macros to define, sort, manage, and view data. MS Access supports normalization rules, validation rules, DDE, OLE, ActiveX, ODBC, SQL, data security, data integrity, transactions, and VBA.

Typical Steps in Building a Access Database Application

When developing the tables, it may help to think in term of entities, tangible, real-world objects, people, things, and transactions.

  1. Identify tasks that will ultimately be represented by a form or report.
  2. Group and flow chart the tasks.
  3. Identify the needed input data and calculations performed on data.
  4. Organize the data into tables and queries using normalization rules.
  5. Design mock up forms, reports, and event procedures to follow task flow.
  6. Construct the application.
  7. Test, review, and refine the application.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Data Entry
    • CTRL+; Enters the current date.
    • CTRL+: Enters the current time.
    • CTRL+ALT+SPACEBAR Enters the default value.
    • CTRL+' Enters the value from the same field of the previous record.
    • CTRL+ENTER Enters return in a memo or text field.
    • CTRL++ Enters a new record.
    • CTRL+- Deletes the current record.
    • F5 Goes to Record Number Box.
    • CTRL+SPACEBAR Select the current column.
    • SHIFT+SPACEBAR Select the current row.
  • Other
    • CTRL+ENTER Opens the selected table, query, form, report, macro, or module in Design View.
    • ALT+DOWN ARROW Opens a combo box or a drop-down list.
    • TAB Exits a combo or drop-down list.
    • F6 Switches from the field list to the field property settings portion of the Table Design View.
    • F11 Opens or brings forward the Database Window.
    • SHIFT+During opening. Opens the database without going through the startup.


  • Database <= 1 GB
  • Table <= 255 fields
  • Table <= 32 indexes
  • Table <= unlimited records
  • Index <= 10 columns
  • Row (excluding memo fields and OLE objects) <= 2 kB
  • Memo Field <= 1 GB
  • Memo Field displayed on form or datasheet <= 64 kB
  • OLE object <= 1 GB


  • 1992. Microsoft Access 1.0 was released for $99. The innovation was that Access was an affordable real database, that worked on the Windows 3 OS. 128 MB size limitation.
  • Access 1.1. 1 GB limitation.
  • 1994 May. Access 2.0. DAO introduced.
  • 1995 Nov. Access 7.0, aka Access 95. Conversion from 16 bit to 32 bit. VBA introduced.
  • 1997 Jan. Access 8.0, aka Access 97. Hyperlink datatype introduced.
  • 2000. Access 9.0, aka Access 2000.

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