Link to or import from dBASE

Applies to: Access for Microsoft 365, Access 2019, Access 2016, Access 2013, Access 2010, Access 2007.

dBASE was one of the pioneering database management systems and the dBASE file format (.dbf) has existed for many years. Microsoft Access facilitates importing from and linking to the following dBASE file formats: dBASE III, dBASE IV, dBASE 5, and dBASE 7.

Newer versions

Note – dBASE support has the following requirements:

  • Microsoft 365 subscription –   If you are an Microsoft 365 subscriber, ensure you have the most recent version of Office. If you are an IT professional managing the Microsoft 365 update process, go to the channel releases page to get informed on which updates are offered in each channel.
  • Office 2016 Click-to-Run editions – Updates are autonomously applied.

Import data from a dBASE file

  1. Click External Data, in the Import & Link group, choose More, and then pick dBASE file.
  1. In the Get External Data – dBASE File dialogue box, click Browse.
  1. In the File Open dialogue box, find the dBASE file, and then press Open. The standard file format is dBASE III. To edit to dBASE IV or dBASE 5, choose a file format from the drop-down list beside the File name box. Although dBASE 7 is unlisted, dBASE 5 and DBASE 7 are virtually the same file format. In Access for Microsoft 365 and Access 2019, file names of up to 64 characters are supported.
  1. In the Get External Data – dBASE File dialogue box, choose Import the source data into a new table in the current database., and then click OK.
  1. If you prefer (this step is entirely optional), save the import steps. For more details, see Run a saved import or export operation.

Consequently, a table is designed with the dBASE data. If there are no column headers in the dBASE file, Access generates basic column headers.

Link to data in a dBASE file

  1. Pick External Data, in the Import & Link group, click More, and then choose dBASE file.
  1. In the Get External Data – dBASE File dialogue box, press Browse. The preset file format is dBASE III. To alter to dBASE IV or dBASE 5, choose a file format from the drop-down list adjacent to the File name box. Despite dBASE 7 being absent from the list, dBASE 5 and DBASE 7 are practically the same file format. In Access for Microsoft 365 and Access 2019, file names of up to 64 characters are supported.
  1. In the File Open dialogue box, track down the dBASE file, and then pick Open. In Access for Microsoft 365 and Access 2019, file names of up to 64 characters are facilitated.
  1. In the Get External Data – dBASE file dialogue box, click Link to the data source by creating a linked table., and then pick OK.

From this, a linked table is formed with the dBASE data. If there are no column headers in the dBASE file, Access produces default column headers in the linked table.

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