Connecting to a Microsoft Access database in ArcGIS

You can use tables from a Microsoft Access database in ArcMap through an OLE DB connection. OLE DB is a standard for sharing data between applications, enabling you to view the Access database in ArcMap. To maintain data integrity, you should only modify an Access database in Access.

All Microsoft Access databases (.mdb) are shown and can be browsed to using ArcCatalog or the Catalog window. You should only browse to and add data directly from personal geodatabases (a type of Access database) using OLE DB connections to non-geodatabase Microsoft Access databases.

  1. In ArcCatalog, double-click the Database Connections folder.
  2. Double-click Add OLE DB Connections.
  3. Click the Provider tab.
  4. Click Microsoft Jet 4.0 OLE DB Provider.
  5. Click Next.
  6. On the Connection tab, specify the database or browse to it in section one. If the database has a password, enter that information in section two.
  7. Click Test Connection to verify that you can connect to the database.
  8. Click OK if the connection test was successful.
  9. Type a new name for the connection and press ENTER.
  10. To use the Access table, browse to the table through the OLE DB connection and add it to ArcMap.

    Access tables, like other tables without associated features, are only shown on when the ArcMap Table of Contents window is listed by source.


Linked tables in Access are not viewable through an OLE DB connection, although Access queries are available. 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.


Because OLE DB connections do not have an ObjectID field, which is a field maintained by ArcGIS that guarantees a unique ID for each row in the table, you won't be able to perform certain operations in ArcMap. These include selecting the features in the layer on the map in any way, applying a definition query, creating full relates, or editing the attributes. See About ObjectID fields for more information about working with tables that lack Object IDs.

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