WD: Can't Use Microsoft Access Files (.mdb or DDE) with Word

This article was previously published under Q137076
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When you use the Mail Merge or the Insert Database command to obtain datafrom a Microsoft Access data file, the option for "MS Access Databases(*.mdb)" does not appear in the "Files Of Type" list, and the DDE method ofobtaining the data is not available.

In addition, you may receive the following error message:
Word could not re-establish a DDE connection to Microsoft Access to complete the current task
For Word to show *.mdb files or to use DDE with Microsoft Access, theMicrosoft Access program folder must be listed correctly in the WindowsRegistry Extensions key. A Typical installation of Microsoft Access updatesthe Win.ini file with extension information, but information in the Win.inifile is not added to the appropriate Registry key in Windows 95.


Method 1: Add Microsoft Access to the Environment path

  1. Start WordPad.
  2. On the File menu, click Open.
  3. In the File Name box, type c:\autoexec.bat. Click OK.
    1. If the file is not found, click Cancel and type the following
      PATH=<path to Access folder>
      where <path to Access folder> is the location of your Microsoft Access folder. For example:
    2. On the File menu, click Exit. When asked if you want to save changes, click Yes.
    3. In the File Name box, type c:\autoexec.bat.
    4. In the Save As Type box, choose "Text Document--MS-DOS Format."
    5. Click OK. Exit WordPad. Skip to step 7.
  4. Find the line that begins with PATH.
  5. Place the insertion point at the end of this line. Type a semicolon (;) and the path to the Microsoft Access program folder.
  6. Save the file and exit WordPad.
  7. Restart the computer.
Word should now be able to show *.mdb files and to use DDE.

NOTE: If these steps do not correct the problem, make sure that thedatabase you are trying to connect to in the mail merge main document is inthe Access directory or in a directory in the path statement of theAutoexec.bat file.

Method 2: Correct the Registry

For information about how to edit the registry, view the Changing Keys AndValues online Help topic in Registry Editor (Regedit.exe). Note that youshould make a backup copy of the registry files (System.dat and User.dat)before you edit the registry.

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems thatmay require you to reinstall Windows 95. Microsoft cannot guarantee thatproblems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved.Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

  1. Click the Windows Start button and click Run. In the Open box, type Regedit. Click OK.
  2. Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER and open the following key:
    Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion \Extensions					
  3. On the Edit menu, point to New, and click String Value.
  4. In place of "New Value #1," type MDB and press ENTER. Double-click the word "MDB".

    A dialog box appears.

    NOTE: This path should reflect the location of Microsoft Access on your computer.
  6. On the Edit Menu, click New, and click String Value.
  7. In place of "New Value #1," type MDA and press ENTER.
  8. Double-click the word "MDA."
  9. Type C:\ACCESS\MSACCESS.EXE ^.MDA and press ENTER

    NOTE: This path should reflect the location of Microsoft Access on your computer.
The new MDA entry is not required in order for Word to use DDE, but itduplicates information that was in the Win.ini file.

For additional information, please see the following article in theMicrosoft Knowledge Base:
136393 How to Modify the Windows Registry
word95 winword word7 kbmerge dynamic data exchange b_waccess Established dde access establish re-establish reestablish mail merge print error word97 unavailable

Article ID: 137076 - Last Review: 10/26/2013 04:02:00 - Revision: 2.0

  • Microsoft Word 95a
  • Microsoft Word 97 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Access 2.0 Standard Edition
  • kbnosurvey kbarchive kbenv kbinterop kbualink97 KB137076