So, you’re here because you’re trying to open a .MDB file, but you don’t have a copy of Microsoft Access to uncover its secrets. What is this file format and what is Microsoft Access?
The first question is related to the second, but let’s start with the MDB file itself. The extension is short for Microsoft DataBase and is the format that Microsoft Access used until 2003. The new format that has long replaced MDB is called ACCDB. If you have an MDB file, it’s probably from an outdated source.
Access is the database component of the Microsoft Productivity Suite, which also includes applications such as Word and Excel Let’s see how you can open MDB file without Access.
Consider buying access
Yes, this article is meant to tell you how to open a MDB file without Access. However, the reason many people still ask this question is due to the time when Access was a premium product not included in the standard Microsoft Office suite.
Since then, everything has changed dramatically. People no longer buy standalone versions of Office, but rather subscribe to Office 365 Even the cheapest tier of service includes the desktop version of Access.
One month of maintenance costs less than ten dollars, and you can get a month’s free trial with a new Microsoft account. So before you start your journey down the path of opening MDB files without access, try this obvious shortcut.
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Import it using Excel
If you have access to a computer with Microsoft Excel but no Access, you can open the MDB file and view its contents in a spreadsheet.
This doesn’t give you access to the file in its native database format, but at least you can see all the data it contains, and even export it as a spreadsheet or comma delimited text file. If that’s all you want, this is a quick and easy way to find out what’s inside that MDB file.
Use an open source alternative for access
Microsoft Office isn’t the only game in town when it comes to productivity kits. There are many free and open source alternatives to the standard Microsoft suite.
LibreOffice is a good place to start. It comes with an application called “Base” that can connect to Microsoft database files. It is limited in many ways. In particular, forms and requests don’t work. However, you can still view tables with their data using Base
Use MDB Open Online Service
If you don’t want to install anything to open the MDB file, you can use an online viewer running in a browser. This is especially useful if you want to use a public computer or a computer on which you do not have administrator rights and therefore cannot install anything.
One such viewer that we have successfully tested is MDB Opener As the name suggests, you can download or link to the MDB file and then open it on a web page. You cannot edit the file in any way, but you can export it to CSV or Excel format and download it to your local drive.
If your MDB file contains sensitive information such as medical records, think twice before uploading it to an online service. You may disclose this information to an unsafe service, which may even be illegal, depending on the type of information.
Use a third-party MDB viewer
Since there are many people who need to open MDB files without a copy of Access, there are also quite a few third party MDB viewer apps to choose from. MDB Viewer Plus stands out from the rest for a number of reasons.
First, it’s completely free. Second, you can edit MDB and ACCDB files. What’s more, the app is portable, which means you don’t need to install it. However, this is a Windows-only application that relies on several database-specific components built into the Microsoft operating system.
Use a text editor
A humble text editor like Windows Notepad can also be used to open MDB files under certain circumstances. While we’re out of luck ourselves, some MDB files only have text content. This means that the text editor will show you something
In the MDB files that we opened with Notepad, most of the content was a jumbled mess. However, the pieces of plain text it contained did provide clues as to which database the file contained. This is not the recommended method, but if all else fails, it shouldn’t hurt.
Transfer it using (someone else’s) access
Sassy, ??we’re going to suggest using Access again in the article on how not to use Access. In particular, it’s worth asking someone with access to convert the file to a different format.
For example, if someone has emailed you an MDB file, you can ask them to resend it as a spreadsheet after converting with their copy of the application. Given how popular Office 365 is these days, there is bound to be someone close by with Access installed on their computer, so it’s worth a try.
Database is all about it (data)
Access is no longer hidden behind premium paid access like it used to be, but there are still many people who don’t have access (no pun intended) to the software. Hopefully one of the above alternative solutions will work for you and transport you to an ancient database of wonders that was previously out of sight.