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Technical Article   HowTo:  Use Microsoft Access tables in ArcGIS

Article ID: 30770
Software:  ArcGIS - ArcEditor 9.3, 9.3.1, 10 ArcGIS - ArcInfo 9.3, 9.3.1, 10 ArcGIS - ArcView 9.3, 9.3.1, 10 ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced 10.1, 10.2, 10.2.1, 10.2.2, 10.3 ArcGIS for Desktop Standard 10.1, 10.2, 10.2.1, 10.2.2, 10.3 ArcGIS for Desktop Basic 10.1, 10.2, 10.2.1, 10.2.2, 10.3
Platforms: N/A


Neither adding a Microsoft Access table directly into ArcMap nor opening and modifying a Personal Geodatabase in Microsoft Access is supported by Esri because this can damage the Access database. Instructions provided describe how to use Microsoft Access tables in ArcGIS by way of an OLE DB connection.

 Even though Microsoft Access Databases and Esri's Personal Geodatabases are both built on the MDB file format, they should not be opened through their non-native software.


Use the following procedure to create an OLE DB connection to the Access Database.

  1. In ArcCatalog, open the Database Connections folder, and double-click 'Add OLE DB Connections' to open the Data Link Properties dialog box. -show me-

    [O-Image] Database Connections

     To add OLE DB Connections for ArcGIS 10.1 and above, please refer to the following KB Article: FAQ: Where is the 'Add OLE DB Connection' command in ArcGIS Desktop 10.1?

  2. Select the Microsoft Jet 4.0 OLE DB Provider, and click Next. -show me-

    [O-Image] Data Link Properties dialog box

     The Microsoft Office 12.0 Access Database Engine OLE DB Provider can also be selected.

  3. In section one, specify the database by navigating to it. If the database has a password, enter that information in section 2. Click the Test Connection button to verify the database can be connected. -show me-

    [O-Image] Data Link Properties dialog box Password
  4. To use the Access table through ArcMap, add the table through the OLE DB connection. -show me-

    [O-Image] Add Data OLE DB

     Some users use Linked Tables in Access. These are not viewable through an OLE DB connection, although Access Queries are viewable. To use the Linked Table, create a Query in Access that references the Linked Table, and connect to the linked table through the query in the OLE DB connection.

     There are a few limitations to be aware of when working with OLE DB connections. See the link in the Related Information section below.

     For users that experience bug NIM009080, work around the issue by using the Microsoft Access ODBC Driver instead of an OLE DB connection.

Related Information

Created: 5/4/2006
Last Modified: 4/1/2015

Article Rating: (3)


By triath3 - 01/05/2015 10:21 AM

The article needs to be updated.

ArcGIS 10.2.2 doesn't seem to have an Add OLE DB Connection option in the Database Connections of ArcCatalog.

By Anonymous - 12/11/2009 6:12 AM

I have suggested related resources/links that can enhance this article. See below.

With Office 2007, there is now the "Microsoft Office 12.0 Access Database Engine OLE DB Provider". I have used this successfully instead of Jet 4.0.


By Anonymous - 05/19/2008 10:09 PM

Great article! It helped a lot!



By Anonymous - 01/28/2008 12:59 PM

I followed the article’s instructions, but experienced another problem. I’ve provided details below.

My database didn't show up in the Data Link Properties dialog until I used Data Source ODBC in MS Windows to create a User Data Source