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To create a desktop database quickly, use one of the many templates provided with Access. Or, if you don’t find a template that meets your needs, create a database from scratch.

Note: If you want to create an Access web app, see Create an Access web app.

Create a database from a template

The easiest and fastest way to create your database is to use an Access template, which creates a ready-to-use database, complete with the tables, forms, reports, queries, macros, and relationships that you need to start working right away. If it doesn’t meet your needs exactly, customize it.

When you open Access, you see a set of templates. More are available online.

Tip: If a database is open, select File > Close to close it.

  1. 1. Open Access (or select File > New), and select a desktop database template. (Desktop database templates have a picture of a datasheet in the background.)

    Icon for database template options

    Tip: If you don’t see the template you want, look for a template on Beneath the Search for online templates box, select Databases. Then, in the Search box, enter one or more keywords.

  2. Enter a name for your new database, and select its location. Then, select Create.

    Screenshot of Contact list interface

Messages you might see

If you see any of the following messages, here’s what to do:

If you see this

Do this

Login dialog box with an empty list of users

  1. Select New User, and then fill in the User Details form.

  2. Select Save & Close.

  3. Select the user name you just entered, and then sign in.

Getting Started page

To learn more about the database, use the links on the page, or, to explore the database, select other buttons and tabs.

Create a database from scratch

If you don’t find the template you need, create your own.

  1. Open Access (or select File > New), and select Blank desktop database.

    Icon of a blank database

  2. Enter a file name, and then click Create. To save to file in a specific location, select Browse. Access creates the database with an empty table named Table1 and then opens Table1 in Datasheet view. It automatically adds a column, called ID, for the primary key.

  3. Table1 isn’t saved automatically, so be sure to save it, even if you haven’t changed it.

You’re almost ready to enter data. But first, you need to define fields for the table, use Access to add other tables with fields, and then create relationships between them. For instructions, start with the Build tables and set data types module in this course.

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Database design basics

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The fastest way to create a new database in Access is to use one of the many built-in templates.

Start Access and select a template, or, if you already have Access running, select File, and then New.

From here, you select the template that seems closest to the kind of data you need to store. For example, if you need to manage asset data, select the asset tracking template.

Give the database a name, … choose a location if you want to, … and select Create.

When the template opens, select Enable content, here.

This allows the database to run all of its features and you only have to do this once. Some of the templates help you get started.

You can watch some videos, … or select one of the links for more help.

From there, you just enter data, and press Tab, … the arrow keys, … or use your mouse to move to the next field.

That's it. You don't need to know database design or change anything, although you may want to.

For example, this list probably isn't what you need. The text is just a placeholder. To change it, select a cell—not the header, but an actual cell—right-click, and then select Edit list items.

Enter the text you want, … select OK, … and now your categories make sense.

With just a few changes and your own data, a template has you up and running in a lot less time than building a database from scratch.

This type of database is called a DESKTOP DATABASE, and it only runs on YOUR computer.

If you need a database that runs on the web, create an Access WEB APP instead.

Now you know how to create an Access desktop database from a built-in template. You’re on your way.

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