4 ways to create business apps with Access 2013

There are many ways to build useful apps to run your business with Access 2013. You can download an app via the Office Store, build an app using a Web App Template, or create a Custom Web App. You also have the ability to make a desktop database, just like you always have in Access. Each method offers a fast and easy way to get started. Several members of the Access team explain more in the video below:

1 – Use the Office Store

Getting an app from the Office Store is a quick way to start using a database that’s been professionally designed for a specific purpose. To use the store, you’ll need to sign up for the Office 365 preview. (Be sure to choose one of the plans for business: Small Business Premium or Enterprise). After you’ve logged into your account, click the elipsis (…) in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen, then click “Office Store.” You can easily search for apps related to your specific business. You’ll find a wide array of SharePoint apps available—the ones that include the Access 2013 logo are Access 2013 web apps.  After you find the app you want, you can click the Add button to install it directly to your SharePoint site and start using it right away. 

 Pick an app from the Office Store.

If you want, you can customize the app with Access 2013. For example, you could easily add a field to a table to track some information that’s specific to your business. You could even add new tables and new relationships to track additional types of things. When you install an Access app from the Office store, you can get up and running fast, but there’s still plenty of room to grow.

 Customize your app in Access.

2 – Use Web App Templates

You can also make web apps directly from Access 2013. The easiest way to do this is by clicking on one of the web app template tiles that you see right after opening Access. You can search for additional templates if you don’t see what you’re looking for. These templates are fully-functional web databases, but instead of immediately seeing them in action, you’re taken straight to the customization step. In our case, you can select “Task management” (outlined in blue).

Create a new web app from a template.

Once you’ve selected your template, give it a name and pick a location. If you’re logged into your Office 365 preview account (see above), you will see two available locations by default. The first is for personal apps that you don’t want to share with others. The second is for your company’s default SharePoint team site. This is a great place to put an app that you want other people in your organization to be able to use.

Select a location for your app.

When you click Create, Access makes an app in the location you selected. The template you selected will include tables, relationships, and views that make it useful from the start. You can start adding data immediately by clicking Launch App in the ribbon. Or, you can customize the app in Access to your heart’s content.

  Launch your app in the browser.

3 – Build a Custom Web App

You can also build an app by starting from scratch. You can create custom tables and fields for your precise needs or search and add tables from our library of Table Templates. To build a custom web app, open Access 2013 and click on “Custom web app” (highlighted in blue). Just like with Web App Templates, you’ll need to give your app a name and a location.

Create a custom web app.

You’ll be initially given a blank database with no tables or schema. The easiest way to start building your app from here is to use table templates. To search for a table template related to what you’d like to do, simply type something in the search box and hit enter. You’ll see a list of search results from the library. For example, if you type “Orders,” then click on the Orders table template from the results, you’ll find that a bunch of useful stuff related to tracking Orders has been added to your blank database.

 Add tables using table templates.

Each template includes all the tables, fields and views you’ll need to create a working app. Some templates come along with other, related tables. For example, the Orders template also gives you a place to track related Customers, Employees, Products, Suppliers, and Categories.

Access includes a large searchable library of these templates. Whether you want to manage products, employees, customers, projects, tasks, or ideas, it’s likely you’ll find a template that’s tailored to your needs.

4 – Build a Desktop Database

If you don’t have Office 365 or SharePoint, you won’t be able to create web apps (options 1-3 above). You can, however, create desktop databases that run on your machine. If you’ve used previous versions of Access, these are the databases you’re already familiar with, and you’ll find it easy to work with files you’ve created in the past. Desktop databases have all the powerful features, such as VBA, that has made Access such a popular way to run a business.

To create a new desktop database, open up Access and click on any tile that uses the word “Desktop” such as the “Blank desktop database” or “Desktop asset tracking” (highlighted in blue). Just like with web databases, you can start from scratch or choose from a large library of templates. Once you’ve selected the template you want, give it a name and click create to start editing.

When Access is finished downloading your template, you’ll be presented with the familiar, rich database building experience you’ve come to expect from Access, complete with reporting, advanced forms, and VBA.

A traditional desktop database.


No matter which method you choose—the Office store, Web App Templates, custom Web Apps, or Desktop Databases—Access 2013 will help you get started quickly. Try it out today by signing up for the Office 365 Preview. If you’d like to take advantage of Access 2013 Web Apps, be sure to choose one of the plans for business: Small Business Premium or Enterprise.