My Favorite Things

Here is a list of my favorite utilities, add-ins, OCX controls, and applications that I use when developing Microsoft Access applications.

My Favorite Things

Here is a list of my favorite utilities, add-ins, OCX controls, and applications. Most of these are free, but several are paid. Many of these are ones you already know about and use.  You may have alternatives that you prefer.  I always like reading through lists like these, though, because there's usually at least one thing on there that I wasn't yet aware of.  Hopefully, one or more of the items below will spark your interest.

I use the chocolatey Windows package manager to install many of these tools.  Where appropriate, I will include the chocolatey install command for the tool below.

Access Add-ins

Seriously, black magic.
  • MZ Tools: there are lots of features here; these are the ones I use most often:
    • Advanced Find: shows all results by procedure, module, project, etc.
    • Automatic Indenting: not as much configuration as the old SmartIndenter add-in, but alas, that doesn't work in newer versions of Access
    • Code Explorer
    • Method Callers
    • Favorite Code Elements


  • Autohotkey: Windows scripting language that supports custom hotkey macros and low-level window management: choco install autohotkey
  • WindowPad: a compiled Autohotkey script that uses the numpad to resize and reposition windows; highly configurable
  • ProcMon: part of the sysinternals suite of tools: choco install sysinternals; used for advanced debugging
  • Greenshot: for quickly taking and annotating screenshots: choco install greenshot
  • 7-zip: compress and decompress files in and out of just about every format: choco install 7zip
  • Keepass: encrypted password storage: choco install keepass
  • Irfanview: lightweight image viewer with a decent set of command line tools, too: choco install irfanview
  • PDFCreator: free PDF converter that installs as a virtual printer; also has a COM object that can be called from VBA: choco install pdfcreator
  • Inno Setup: free installer for Windows programs; installs are created via text-based configuration files, so changes to your installers can be tracked in version control; as Joe Biden might say, that's "a big f***ing deal"
  • Everything: locate files and folders by name instantly (seriously, instantly):  choco install everything


  • TortoiseHg: Windows GUI for Mercurial DVCS: choco install tortoisehg
  • FreeMind: mind mapping software; used for brainstorming at the design stages of a new project: choco install freemind
  • Notepad++: before VSCode, this was my goto text editor; I still use it for its powerful "Find in Files" feature: choco install notepadplusplus
  • VSCode: my new goto text editor; amazing extension library; "Rainbow CSV" might be my favorite extension of all: choco install vscode
  • PDF-XChange Editor: the free version is so much better than Adobe Reader; and the paid version is even sweeter: choco install pdfxchangeeditor
  • Pencil: open-source GUI prototyping tool choco install pencil

Web Applications

  • FogBugz: online bug tracking database. This was free for up to 3 users when I first started with it in 2009. I'm now paying about $220 per year for it.  I hope I've been grandfathered in to that pricing, because it looks like the current pricing starts at over $800 per year for 1 to 5 users.  With its current pricing model, I don't think I would recommend it to a solo Access developer just starting out.  I do think a bug database is still important.  Having an online bug database is even better.  But I would encourage looking into open-source alternatives like BugZilla or Trac.

OCX/ActiveX controls and COM libraries

  • csXImage: affordable TWAIN scanning and image viewing/editing control that can be embedded on Access forms
  • ImageMagick: advanced image manipulation tool; available as a standalone executable or COM object


  • 2/12/2021: added "Everything" to the Utilities section

Image by hudsoncrafted from Pixabay

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