Home and Learn: Microsoft Access Course

Create a New Access Database

Click your start menu in Windows and launch your Microsoft Access software. When you first launch Access, you should see a screen like this one:

The opening screen in Microsft Access showing a blank database selected

When you create databases, they will appear as a list, under the Recent heading. You can then quickly open a database simply by clicking its name.

But click the Blank Database item at the top. You should see a screen asking you to give your Access database a name. The default name is Database1.accdb. (The accdb part tells you that it's an Access database file.) Delete the Database1 part and call it Books.accdb. Then click the Create button:

Create a Blank Database screen in Microsoft Access

When you click Create, you'll be taken to the main area in Access, with the Fields ribbon selected:

Main Access screen showing a default database table created

There's a lot to get used to here, and it can seem quite daunting. Let's break this screen down a bit.

The area on the left is where all your database objects will appear: tables, forms, queries, etc. Double-clicking an item here will open it up in the main area. You can expand and contract this area by clicking the two left-pointing arrows highlighted below by a red square:

The All Access Objects panel showing a default table

The down arrow in the circle can be clicked to reveal a menu:

The All Access Objects right-click context menu

The two arrows pointing up will contract all the items under it:

The All Access Objects contract icon is two arrows

Notice that a table has already been created for you. It has the name Table1. Let's rename this.

What we're going to be doing is creating a simple database of books. One table will contain the names of the authors and a second table will contain a list of books. We'll also have a table of book genres. We'll link two of the tables together and use the third one for a dropdown list.

Let's rename Table1 to something more appropriate.

There are a few ways to rename a table. If you have just created a new table, like we have done, then you can click the Save icon in the top left of Access, just above the File ribbon:

The Save File icon on the menu bar at the top of Microsoft Access

(Use the Save icon to save your work on a regular basis.)

You can also right-click the Table1 tab in the main area:

Arrow pointing to a Table tab in Access

When you do, you'll see a menu appear. This one:

The right-click context menu with the Save item highlighted

Click Save.

When using either of these, save icon or right-click, you'll see a dialog box appear. This one:

The Saves As dialog box in Access

Type a name for your table. It's common practice to preface your table names with the letters tbl, all in lowercase. It's also common to use something called Camel Case. This is when each letter of words is capitalised. For example, tblThisIsCamelCase. But call your table tblAuthors:

The Saves As dialog box in Access showing a table renamed

Click OK and your table will have a name. Notice that the new name now appears on the tab and in the All Access Objects area:

Arrows pointing to a renamed table in the Access All Objects area and the table tab

If you've made a mistake, or want to rename it again, right-click the table name in the Access Objects area. Select Rename from the menu:

The right-click context menu showing the rename item highlighted

You should see an error message:

Microsoft Access renaming error message

The message is telling you that can't rename a table while it's open. Click OK on the dialog box. Now click the X on the tab to close the table down:

Arrow pointing to the close tab icon of an Access table

Once the tab is closed, right-click the table name again in the Access Objects area. Select Rename from the menu and the table name will be highlighted:

A table highlighted in the All Access Objects area, ready to be renamed

Simply type a new name for your table and you're good to go.

(Note, because we only have one object, a table, it's safe to rename this way. But if we had more than one object, we could have problems renaming a table, if that table is referred to elsewhere.)

If your table is closed, though, double click its new name in the All Access Objects area. This will reopen it in the main area.

The next thing we'll do is to set up our table so that's it's ready to have information inserted into it. Before doing so, you need to know about fields and records. You'll learn about those in the next lesson.

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