Managing Databases and Objects

When working with an Access database you're working with many Access objects simultaneously. Learn to manage them here.


Video: Working with Databases

Launch "Working with Databases" video!Watch the video (2:41). Need help?

Each Access database consists of multiple objects that let you interact with data. Databases can include forms for entering data, queries for searching within it, reports for analyzing it, and tables for storing it. Whenever you work with your database, you are working with many of these objects at once. Fortunately, Access makes managing these objects pretty easy.

In this lesson, you will learn how to to open and close databases, as well as how to open, close, and save objects.

Throughout this tutorial, we will be using a sample database. If you would like to follow along, you'll need to download our Access 2013 sample database. You will need to have Access 2013 installed on your computer in order to open the example.

To open an existing database:

Before you enter data or modify your objects, you will need to open your database.

  1. Select the File tab to go to Backstage view.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Clicking the File tab
  2. Click Open.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Clicking Open
  3. Select Computer, then click Browse.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Clicking Browse
  4. The Open dialog box will appear. Locate and select the database, then click Open.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Opening an Access database
  5. One or more warning messages may appear when you open your database. If the database contains customized functions, a yellow bar with a security warning may appear below the Ribbon. If you trust the source of your database, click Enable Content for your database to display correctly.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Enabling database content
  6. After enabling all content in the database, you may see a message asking if you want to make the database a Trusted Document. Click Yes if you would like all content to be automatically enabled each time you open the database.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Making the database a trusted document

You may also be prompted to sign in to the database. Select your name from the login list. If your name does not appear, click Add User to enter your information.

To close a database:

  1. Select the File tab to go to Backstage view.
  2. Select Close.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Clicking Close
  3. If you have any unsaved objects, a dialog box will appear for each one asking if you would like to save it. Select Yes to save the object, No to close it without saving, or Cancel to leave your database open.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Saving unsaved objects

Working with objects

It's helpful to think of your database as a large binder or folder in which you store your data. The data itself is contained in database objects. Access treats each of these objects as separate documents, which means you will have to open and save them individually in order to work with them.

You may have noticed that this lesson contains no instructions for saving a database. This is because you cannot save an entire database at once. Rather, you must individually save the objects contained within the database.

To open an object:

  1. In the Navigation pane, locate and double-click the desired object.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Opening an object
  2. The object will appear as a tab in the Document Tabs bar.
    Screenshot of Access 2013The object opened in Access

By default, the most recently opened object will appear in the main window as the current object. To view another open object, click its tab in the Document Tabs bar.

Screenshot of Access 2013Clicking a tab to open a different object

Saving objects

You'll need to save any changes you make to each object before closing your database. Remember, saving early and often can prevent your work from being lost. However, you will also be prompted to save any unsaved work when you attempt to close your database.

To save a new object:

  1. Select the object you want to save by clicking its tab in the Document Tabs bar.
  2. Click the Save command on the Quick Access toolbar, or press Ctrl+S on your keyboard.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Clicking the Save command
  3. The first time you save an object, you will be prompted to name it. Enter the desired object name, then click OK.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Saving an object
  4. The object will be saved. Click the Save command again to save any changes to the object.

To close an object:

  1. Select the object you want to close, then click the X on the right of the Document Tabs bar.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Closing an object
  2. If there are any unsaved changes to the object, you will be prompted to save it. Select Yes to save, No to close it without saving your changes, and Cancel to leave the object open.

You can also close an object by right-clicking its tab on the Document Tabs bar and selecting Close. Select Close All to close all open objects.

Screenshot of Access 2013Right-clicking to close an object

To rename an object:

  1. If the object you want to rename is open, close it.
  2. In the Navigation pane, right-click the desired object, then select Rename.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Clicking Rename
  3. Type the new object name, then press Enter on your keyboard.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Renaming an object


  1. Open an existing Access database. If you want, you can use our Access 2013 sample database.
  2. Open an object.
  3. Close the object.
  4. Rename the object.
  5. Close the database without saving your changes.