Ways to use Access data in Excel

When you need to use Excel to analyze data in an Access database, you have several options: you can copy and paste the data, create a data connection from Excel, or export the data to an Excel file. Your best choice depends on what you want to do. 

  • Copy/Paste  If you just need some values from Access one time — and you don’t care whether the data changes in Access later on — copy/paste is a quick and dirty way to get the job done.
  • Export  If you don’t care whether the data changes but expect to get values again later, exporting to Excel is a good way to go — you can save the export steps and run them again.
  • Data Connection  If you need the data to stay fresh, your best bet is to use commands in Excel to create a data connection to the database.

Copy/paste values from Access to Excel

Use copy/paste for simple, one-off tasks. The basic steps are pretty straightforward:

  1. Open the table or query from which you will select the values.
  2. Select the rows or columns by dragging the cursor on the datasheet.
  3. Press Ctrl + C to copy the values.
  4. Switch to the workbook where you want to put the data.
  5. Click the cell you want to be in the first row and first column of your data.
  6. Press Ctrl + V to paste the values.

TIP After you paste into Excel, you might want to format the data as a table. This makes it easier to sort the data while preserving the records, and has other benefits. For more information, see the article Create or delete an Excel table (previously a list) in an Excel workbook.

Export data to Excel

Access provides a wizard to help you export your data. You can export data from any table, query, form or report. You can also export a selection of data from a datasheet. You can choose to retain the formatting and layout of the data.

NOTE If you want to export to an existing Excel workbook, you must close it first.

To begin the export process in Access, click External Data, and in the Export group, click Excel. For more information, see the article Export data to Excel.

Create a data connection

To use a data connection, the database file must be in a location that you can open. You must use a regular database — a web database won’t work for this kind of connection.

To begin the process in Excel, click Data, and then in the External Data group, click Access (if you’ve never connected to the database before) or Existing Connections (if you have connected before). For more information, see the article Connect to (import) external data.

Your experience

What about you? Have you tried any of these methods? Do you prefer one over the others? Please share your experience with us by leaving a comment. Thanks!

–Steven Thomas