Microsoft Access Runtime Distribution and Free Downloads
Microsoft offers runtime versions of Microsoft
Access so you can create database applications in MS Access and distribute them
to non-Access owners. The runtime version allows your users to use your
databases without purchasing their own license of Access/Office.
Runtime Version Differences
The Microsoft Access Runtime version differs from the
retail version in several ways:
- All design-related user interfaces are either
removed or disabled
- Database and macro windows are hidden
- Filter By Form, Filter By Selection, and
Advanced Filter windows are hidden
- This means your users only use the forms and
reports you create and do not work directly with the
tables, queries, etc.
- Users cannot create their own Microsoft Access
databases or modify the object designs in the
database(s) you give them
- There is no Design View. Your users cannot
modify your objects including queries and reports.
- The VBA editor is not included. Your users
cannot view or modify module code.
- They can view, add, edit, and delete the data in
- Special Keys such as Ctrl+Break, Ctrl+G, Shift key
when opening the database, and other keys to modify
objects or code are not available
- Microsoft Office features such as spell checking
are not included. Note that spell checking is
available if the user has that version of Office
- No Access help file
Microsoft Access Runtime Versions and Download Links
In earlier versions of Microsoft Access, you needed
to purchase a special developer version of Access to
receive the runtime version and other related resources.
Since MS Access 2007, Microsoft has distributed the
runtime versions for free. You can download them from
Given the deprecation of many features in Microsoft
Access 2013, we recommend distributing the Microsoft
Access 2010 runtime rather than 2013 in most cases.
Make Sure You Have Error Handling for Runtime
Because users of the runtime version do not have the
design surfaces, it's important that any MS Access
application you distribute with the runtime has a robust
global error handler in place for all procedures. Otherwise, unexpected
errors will cause your application without recourse. The
Debug dialog is not available with a runtime deployment.
details on error handling read our papers on:
Simulating Runtime During Development
As the developer, you have the full version of
Microsoft Access to create your database application.
Rather than have a different machine to test how your
application behaves with the runtime version, Microsoft
offers a way to run MS Access in runtime mode. Read our
paper for more details:
Running Your Application with the Runtime
Launching Microsoft Access with your database is
similar to the way you would do so with the regular
version of Access. Simply launch the msaccess.exe
followed by the name of your database. Your database
should launch with an Autoexec macro or have a startup
form defined. Without it, nothing will appear as the
runtime version does not expose the database container
Microsoft Access Version History
Here's a history of all the
Microsoft Access major
version releases, service packs, and recent updates
with a summary of enhancements, deprecated features and
Need Additional Help with the Runtime or Deployment?
Our custom software development team has extensive
experience creating Microsoft Access solutions that are
deployed to users around the world using the Access
runtime version. In conjunction with our
Total Access Startup
program, application deployment can be managed and
We also have experience using
Services and RemoteApp to support users over the
Internet to run Access applications without having to
install Access on their local machines. By hosting the
Access application in a secure data center, Mac users
and other non-traditional Access users can run your
Microsoft Access application from their device.
Solutions Group for details.