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File association errors opening databases by double-clicking in Access

Original KB number:   2212418


When opening databases by double-clicking on them in Windows Explorer, one of the following error messages appears. The same database can be opened by opening Access first and then opening the file from the File > Open menu option.

"'<Database name>' is not a valid Win32 application"


"This file does not have a program associated with if for performing this action. Create an association in the Set Association control panel."

The file extensions used by Access have lost their association to the Access application. The most common extensions are (.accdb, .accde, .mdb, .mde).


This issue is corrected by changing the file association back to Access.

Method 1

  1. Right-click on the problem (.accdb, .accde, .mdb, .mde) file.

  2. Point to Open With, and then click on Choose Default Program.

  3. Under Recommended Programs, look for Access and select it if found.

  4. If Access wasn't listed in the Recommended Programs section, click the Browse button, browse to and select msaccess.exe, and then click Open.

    Common install paths:

    (32-bit Windows / 32-bit Access) or (64-bit Windows / 64-bit Access):

    • Access 2007: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\MSACCESS.EXE
    • Access 2010: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\MSACCESS.EXE
    • Access 2013: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\MSACCESS.EXE (MSI)
    • Access 2013: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 15\root\Office15\MSACCESS.EXE (C2R)
    • Access 2016: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\MSACCESS.EXE (MSI)
    • Access 2016: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\MSACCESS.EXE (C2R)

    (64-bit Windows / 32-bit Access):

    • Access 2007: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\MSACCESS.EXE
    • Access 2010: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\MSACCESS.EXE
    • Access 2013: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\MSACCESS.EXE (MSI)
    • Access 2013: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 15\root\Office15\MSACCESS.EXE (C2R)
    • Access 2016: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\MSACCESS.EXE (MSI)
    • Access 2016: C:\Program Files(x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\MSACCESS.EXE (C2R)
  5. Make sure that the "Always use the selected program..." box is checked, and then click OK.

Method 2

If your operating system is Windows Vista or newer, you can delete the following registry keys to remove the current user choice for the default application used with the file extension. The key is rebuilt with the default association the next time Access is opened.


Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall the operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.

  1. Open the Registry Editor by clicking on Start, typing Regedit in the search box, and then pressing enter.

  2. Locate the following key:


  3. Locate the file extension that you want to delete. such as .accdb. Before deleting it, create a backup of the key by right-clicking on the file extension (.accdb), choosing Export, and then providing a filename.


  4. Right-click on the file extension (.accdb) key again and this time choose Delete.

  5. Close the Registry Editor and double-click on your database file.


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