3 Free Options for Managing Linked Tables in Access

The original linked table manager was a terrible tool. Let's look at three better options for today's Microsoft Access developers.

3 Free Options for Managing Linked Tables in Access

The original linked table manager in Microsoft Access was atrocious:

  • Not resizable
  • All tables sorted alphabetically (not grouped by data source)
  • No simple way to create DSN-less connections
  • Tedious to relink many tables at once

Luckily, today's Access developers have some better options.

Official Linked Table Manager: Updated for MS 365

If you are willing/able to upgrade to Microsoft 365, you can benefit from the newly redesigned Linked Table Manager (LTM).

Here's the official Microsoft article documenting the redesigned feature.  And here is a review of the redesigned LTM from fellow Access MVP, Maria Barnes, from when it was released back in 2018:

[MVP Blog] Improved Linked Table Manager – Love It!
[This post is authored by Maria Barnes, a Microsoft Access MVP] I have spent some time with the new and improved Linked Table Manager (LTM) in Access over the past couple of months, and I have to say: I love it! Here are some of its best features from my point of view: Resizable Dialog Window –…

Dale Fye's Linked Table Manager

Are you ready for a Linked Table Manager (LTM):
– with a sizable form
– which identifies which connections are valid and how many tables are associated with each connection
– which doesn’t ask you to select the BE multiple times when you’ve identified tables from multiple sources to refresh?

Former Access MVP Dale Fye's custom linked table manager provides the above features and then some.  The tool is available for free from his website at: http://dev-soln.com/linked-table-manager/

Dale presented the tool to the Denver Area Access User Group.  The video recording of the session is available on YouTube:

Here's a screen grab of the installation instructions from the above video:

UPDATE [2022-05-19]: Dale Fye provided the following additional information about his add-in over on LinkedIn:

Thanks for the shout out, Mike.
My "Access LTM" has similar DSN-less connection feature, and pass-through query refresh/relink as well.

Kevin Bell's Data Source Manager

I personally use Kevin Bell's Data Source Manager (to be fair, I've not tried Dale Fye's tool).

The Data Source Manager ribbon interface.

One of my favorite features is the two-click table refresh:

  1. Right-click on a linked table
  2. Choose "Refresh Selected Linked Table"
You don't even need to open a dialog box to refresh linked tables with Kevin Bell's Data Source Manager.

I also really like how easy it is to add DSN-less SQL Server linked tables:

Some notable features of Kevin's free tool:

  • Right-click on linked tables to refresh or relink
  • Easily create DSN-less SQL Server/Azure links
  • Excellent integration with Azure SQL backends
  • Installs into the ribbon
  • Updates automatically

Many of these notable features require the ClickOnce installer (which only works with front-end .accdb files).  There is also an .exe based installer that is compatible with front-end .mdb files.  The ClickOnce and .exe installers CAN be installed side-by-side.

Visit the installation page to get Kevin's free tool.

UPDATE [2022-05-19]: In the comments below, Jack Stockton pointed out that I forgot to mention Kevin's tool includes support for pass-through queries, too.

External references

Manage linked tables
A central location to manage external data sources and to refresh, relink, edit, or delete linked tables due to changes to the data source location and table name or schema.
The official Microsoft article documenting the features of the improved built-in Linked Table Manager.
Linked Table Manager – Developing Solutions
Dale Fye's custom Linked Table Manager Access add-in
AccessUI - Data Source Manager
Kevin Bell's custom Data Source Manager

All original code samples by Mike Wolfe are licensed under CC BY 4.0