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AccessOpener 1.20

The dreaded Access Version Conversion question Don't you hate it when you have installed Microsoft Access 2000 and you double-click on an Access97 file, expecting it to be opened in Access97 and it gets opened in Access2000, and Access2000 promptly asks you if you want to convert the file? Even when Access 2000 is told not to convert the file, it makes changes to it anyway. Such arrogance! So annoying!

I was frustrated by this so much I wrote AccessOpener to fix the problem. You can also "train" the program to recognise other signatures. It is not unusual for there to be several signatures for each version. I have no idea why, except that passwords and language versions seem to play a part.

The setup screen shown here shows how you set it up. When you the program for the first time, click on the "Registry Configuration" button. Then check the location of Access 97, 2000, XP/2002, Access 2003 or Access 2007. Click on the check box for each program you want to use.

Access Opener Setup Screen

Finally, "Save and Exit". This sets up the registry values and associates AccessOpener.exe with .mdb files, as well as adding in some extra options when you right-click on an mdb file, as shown here. When you "Open" a file, AccessOpener opens it first, looks at the first 90 bytes of the file, works out which Microsoft Access program to use, and launches it, along with the file name provided. If it can't figure out the version, it launches the most recent version you have installed.

In addition, if you right-click and select "Repair and Compact", AccessOpener does the same thing, except that it passes the "/REPAIR /COMPACT" command line parameters as well, allowing the correct version of Access to Repair/Compact the file. Please note that AccessOpener does not modify your Access files in any way. Only Access does that.

Sometimes a Repair and Compact isn't enough to get the Access file to behave. Now you can use the "undocumented" Decompile option as well. Remember that you can hold down the "Shift" key to prevent Access from running the code when you open the file.

I have also added a right-click menu option where you can select which installed version of Access you'd like to open the file in. This is useful when the wrong version opens a particular file. Detecting the file format is not an exact science, hence this option.

Version 1.05 introduced two new options. The first is a command line switch called /SET which will re-setup the registry entries, and nothing else. This can be placed in your Windows startup menu to make sure that previous usage of Access hasn't undone the required registry settings. The second option is to use AccessOpener to launch any application (presumably Access), usually in a shortcut. Again, the idea is to ensure that the AccessOpener registry settings are correctly set up on your machine. Please note that if you try to open an Access file in a folder where the file name contains the string ".EXE " in either the file name or path, you will get weird results. But then it would be a weird file or folder name in the first place.

To get the /SET option to work, create a shortut to the AccessOpener Application. You can do this by right-clicking on AccessOpener.exe and selecting "Create Shortcut". Right-click on the shortcut and choose "Properties".
Change the "Setting" part by adding " /SET" (The space is important) at the end of the line. My copy now reads:
"C:\Program Files\Access Opener\AccessOpener.exe" /SET
Then Click on "Apply" and "OK".
To move it to the startup menu, right-click on the "Start" button in Windows, and select "Open all Users". Double-click on the "Programs" Folder and the the "Startup" folder. On my system this has taken me to
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
Copy or move the shortcut to this folder.
Note: The new ZIP format compressed filesetup program does this for you.

Version 1.10 fixes a bug with the /ACC97 switch, and also caters for Access97 files that contain passwords.

Version 1.10 also handles the "/RUNTIME" switch correctly. Only use this switch for MDE files if you have the runtime libraries installed.

Version 1.11 adds a /LOAD option. Use this in conjunction with the /SET option in your startup menu, and AccessOpener with read the MACCESS.EXE and related files from your hard drive, placing them into the Windows File Cache in the process. This should make Access load a little faster when you select a file.

Version 1.20 adds support for Access 2007 and also makes "training" a bit easier. The installation program adds a shortcut in the Windows Startup menu to do the /LOAD and /SET options on startup.

You can Installation programdownload the Setup Program for AccessOpener Version 1.20 build 92 (1480k), which works on Win98 and WinXP. I have not tested it on Windows 2000 or Windows Vista. If you are willing to sign a Adobe Acrobat Portable Documentnon-disclosure agreement you can have the Encrypted Filefull source code as well.

Please note: AccessOpener is not to be sold, and will remain freeware in the future. If you install it on someone else's computer, you may charge your normal consultation rates for the actual time taken to do the installation, but not for the software itself. You can't make it available for download anywhere else either. All downloads should be made from this page only. You may not list this software elsewhere without written permission. All links should point to this page, not directly to the download file.

Icon by Benno Meyer with thanks.



FMS Total Access Startup This is not a new idea. The bright folks at FMS Inc makes a product called Total Access Startup that does much the same thing and a whole lot more. Unfortunately for me it costs at least US$499. Theirs is a network-based, administrator-enabled, enterprise version. Mine runs on a single PC. That's why theirs costs and mine doesn't. There is also ACCVER for US$15 per user. I haven't tried either.


See also KB 290291 for another bizarre take on the conversion issue. Quote from the article: "For more information about multiple file formats in Access 2002, click Microsoft Access Help on the Help menu, type about using an access file with multiple versions of access in the Office Assistant or the Answer Wizard, and then click Search to view the topics returned." I love "Clippy", but sometimes he can be a total idiot. Why doesn't he understand that not everyone wants to use a different version of Access to the one they actually paid for?

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All information copyright © 2005-2013 Black and White Inc. All rights reserved. First published 17th January 2005. Last Updated: 08-Apr-2013 17:10