How to disable "Sandbox Mode" (startup warning messages) in Microsoft Access 2003

Provided by the FMS Development Team

After first installation of Microsoft Access 2003, whenever you open a database, Sandbox Mode is enabled letting you know two things:

  1. Microsoft Jet 4.0 Service Pack 8 or later must be installed to block unsafe expressions without affecting common functionality.

  2. How to block unsafe expressions.

When sandbox mode is enabled, Access evaluates only those expressions in field properties and controls that are safe. An expression is considered safe if it does not use functions or properties that could be exploited by malicious users to access drives, files, or other resources for which they do not have authorization. Examples of this are the Kill or Shell commands.

While this is a nice feature to have, it can be an annoyance for the following reasons:

  1. Even after installing Jet service pack 8 or later, you still receive a warning message.

  2. There is no way to leave Access 2003 in this mode and turn off the message. In other words, there is no "do not show me this message again" check box or anything else that keeps you from having to click one of the Yes, No, or Help buttons every time Access 2003 is used to launch a database.

  3. While major functions that could cause damage are prevented, so are other things that are often necessary like the functions InStrRev, WeekDayName, MonthName, or use of the DBEngine property.


To turn this feature off, you must go into a mode that is less safe according to Microsoft standards and recommendations. Here's how:

  1. Open MS Access 2003.
  2. Prior to opening any database, go to Tools, Macro, Security.
  3. Select the "Low" setting and click OK.

While Microsoft does not recommend this setting to be used, if you have good AntiVirus software on your machine (which everyone should have at this point!), you will probably not encounter security issues.

Another thing you can do to get rid of this message is to digitally sign your Access database project. Any properly digitally signed project will not encounter this message provided you tell MS Access to trust the Certificate created. More information for this can be found in the FAQ listed below

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