Access 2016: Import Data into Access

Access provides an easy way to import data from external files.

You can easily import data from a variety of different sources, including text, Excel, XML, HTML, ODBC datasources and more.

You can also link to external data sources, so that changes in the source file are reflected in your Access database.

Generally, when importing data, you have these options:

  • Import the data into an existing table;
  • Have Access create a new table based on the data; or
  • Establish a link to the external file, so that future updates are reflected automatically.

Today, we'll import data into an existing table.

Import a CSV File into an Existing Table

We will import the following CSV file into the Artists table.

Source File: artists.csv

1, AC/DC, 1973
2, Louis Armstrong, 1914
3, Iron Maiden, 1975
4, Miles Davis, 1944
5, Pat Benetar, 1972
6, Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1965
7, Avenged Sevenfold, 1999
8, Destiny's Child, 1990
9, Snoop Dogg, 1992

Destination table: Artists

ArtistId ArtistName
   

You can download the CSV file here: artists.csv

Note that this file includes an extra field that's not in our destination table. Not a problem. Access will allow us to remove the extra field.

Also, the CSV file doesn't contain a header row, but that's fine. Access can deal with this too.

  1. Screenshot of the Import option on the Ribbon

    Launch the Import Wizard

    Before starting, ensure that both the source file, and the destination table are closed.

    To launch the wizard for a CSV file, click Text File from the External Data tab on the Ribbon.

    You can also launch the wizard by right-clicking on a table and selecting an option from the Import option.

    Access needs the destination table to be closed before importing data. If you don't close it before starting the import, Access will warn you later in the process, and offer to save and close the table for you.

  2. Screenshot of selecting the source file

    Select the Source File & Destination Table

    Use the Browse... button to navigate to and select the import file (in our case, artists.csv).

    Select Append a copy of the records to the table and then select the Artists table from the drop down list of tables.

    Click OK to continue.

    You can just type the path directly into the File name field if you know the full path to the file (i.e. instead of using the Browse... button).

  3. Screenshot of reviewing the file format

    Review the Format Options

    This part of the Import Wizard will ask you to confirm the file's format. In our case, Access has (correctly) detected that our file is in a delimited format.

    If all looks OK, click Next >.

  4. Screenshot of selecting the delimiter

    Select/Review the Delimiter

    Now Access will ask you to select the file's delimiter. In our case, Access has (correctly) detected that our file uses a comma as its delimiter. If it was wrong, you can click another delimiter and see how the data updates to reflect the new delimiter.

    You can also select whether or not the file contains header rows. If the first row of your file contains headers, click First Row Contains Field Names. Otherwise, leave it unchecked.

    However, before continuing, click the Advanced... button, as we need to tell Access to skip the extra field.

  5. Screenshot of selecting a field to skip

    Skip the Extra Field

    Access won't import the CSV file the way it is because it contains an extra field. The file contains 3 fields but our table only has two. Therefore we can only import two fields. We need to tell Access which field to skip.

    Check the box next to Field3 so that doesn't get imported.

    Then click OK.

  6. Screenshot of delmiter screen

    Continue the Wizard

    After skipping the extra field, you'll be back on the delimiter screen. Click Next >.

  7. Screenshot of final screen before running the import

    Run the Import

    Click Finish to run the import.

  8. Screenshot of confirmation

    Close the Wizard

    Once the import operation has completed, Access will ask you if you want to save the import steps for another time. Check the box if you'd like to, otherwise leave it unchecked, and click Close.

  9. Screenshot of table containing the imported data

    Check that the data has been Imported

    Now that the import has run, you should check the table to make sure that all data is in the correct fields and it looks OK.

    Double click on the Artists table to view its contents.