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How To Open Microsoft Access Database Appear Outside Of Access

How To Open Microsoft Access Database Appear Outside Of Access

If you have ever browsed the Access options and design properties of your database then you will know some of the neat tricks that help to blend your database application into your Windows environment But how to open Microsoft Access database (file) and make it appear to be outside of the application is an illusion that maybe useful.

In this quick tutorial, I’m going to create a blank canvas form as the background and maximize it so it covers the whole application which will require some combined form property changes too.

how to open microsoft access database

On top of that, I will call another opening form (your starting form) to sit in front as the loading screen to your application and finally tweak the application options to tie it altogether.

How To Open Microsoft Access Database Appear Outside Of Access – The Steps

This tutorial will require two lines of VBA code to be included in order to complete this task on how to open Microsoft Access database outside the application and is a standard keyword that can be easily understood.

I’m using Access 2010…

1. Start your application and open the database file you wish to make appear outside the application having the Navigation pane in full view.

2. Decide which form you want to start and open automatically when the database loads. I have chosen a form called frm_SearchTool which on its own looks like:

how to open microsoft access database

3. Make sure the form properties (in design view) for your starting form has at least the following set:

Auto Center = Yes
Border Style = None
Pop Up = Yes
Modal = Yes

4. Create a new blank form and call it frm_Background and make sure at least the following properties are set:

Border Style  = None
Record Selectors = No
Navigation Buttons = No
Scroll Bars = Neither
Pop Up = Yes

5. In this new form, we are going to add the two lines of VBA code to the On Load event which triggers itself when the form loads.

Locate the On Load event by clicking the Event tab from the Properties Sheet and choose [Event Procedure] followed by the button (three dots) to it immediate right.

6. In the code window add the following two lines of VBA code so it looks like the following:

how to open microsoft access database vba

7. Close and save the changes.

8. The final part is to tell Access which form to load when the application starts by going to its options and setting the Current Database section and choose the form frm_Background from the Display Form: drop down box.

9. Test it out! By restarting the MS Access and the database file.

So if anyone asks you how to open Microsoft Access database appear outside of Access, show them this article.

If you would like to know more about how to build and code an Access database, my eBooks maybe a good place to start.

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11 Responses so far.

  1. Leonard Butler says:

    I have followed your instructions exactly. My frm_Background appears maximized, but the frm_Startup does not appear. Here is the code:

    Private Sub Form_Load()
    DoCmd.OpenForm “frm_Startup”
    End Sub

  2. Leonard Butler says:

    After double-checking my work, it works. I must have not followed your instructions as carefully as I thought, the first time. Thanks.

  3. Alex says:


    I tried to follow your instructions, but I must have made a mistake somewhere, because the link to the form that was supposed to open is not working. However, now I seem to be locked out of my database as nothing is working. Please help!!! How do I undo what I did to recover my database???

    Thank you for all your help

    • Ben says:

      It may not actually be locked but you will probably need to right mouse click on the middle form to switch back to design view mode (may even try on the background form as well).
      You can always have a hidden control to act as a close of reveal navigation pane view (using some basic VBA) to prevent the ‘locking’ feel.

  4. Suzanne says:

    I followed the instructions on How to open Access database appear outside of Access and it opens the form but everything is locked. I click on different buttons and nothing happens.

    • Ben says:

      The trick is to right mouse click just inside the frame area (close to the edge of the form itself) and choose either close or design view.
      Ultimately, you may wish to add a shortcut or escape action to close form or provide a visible button or hidden secret area you only know to click and close.

  5. Ivan says:

    Hey, awesome suggestion. If anyone is bummed about “exiting” the background form, just put a close button on it. Title it “Exit Application” or whatever and it works! Super simple. Thanks so much for your help in this!

  6. Linda says:

    I used this and it works quite well. Just wondered, is there a way ou can do the same with a Query?
    I would like to be able to open queries this way also?

    • Ben says:

      Hi Linda,
      The best approach will be to create a form setting it to the datasheet view and then show the record source file which can be a query of your choice.

  7. Peter says:

    I just tried this using Access 2007 and it appears to work. It’s a very clever illusion of sorts that I would never have thought of. The only issue I see with it is that underneath the frm_Background the Access Application window still lives. I modified your properties directions for the frm_Background to show the control box, just to prove to myself that the Access Application window is in fact there (which it is). I have seen some examples of how to actually hide the Access Application window so that the Access DB running appears as an executable rather than show the full-blow Access Application. Of course, one can create a Run-Time version which would dispense with the full-blown Access Application window so that end-users could not alter the underlying code, etc. Thanks for this interesting demonstration!