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A Comprehensive Guide to Using Microsoft Access on Your Mac Pro

written by: Daniel Kolobaric•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 6/7/2011

Your powerful Mac Pro is capable of doing many tasks but a solution has to be found when you want to run Windows apps, such as Microsoft Access. Read on for all the options on getting Microsoft Access to run either integrated or through boot camp.

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    Using Microsoft Access on Your Mac Pro

    Apple’s Mac Pro is the top of the line in terms of OS X bearing products and is capable of doing almost anything. However, one thing it is not capable of doing is running Microsoft Access native. Are you in a possession of a Mac Pro and you want know how to use Microsoft Access, look no further as we explain the best practice for going about this.

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    Microsoft Access on the Mac Pro Through a Virtual Machine

    Microsoft Access on Mac Pro The questions whether your Mac Pro is able to run Microsoft Access is rooted in the software rather then the hardware. Access is a database management application that is part of the Windows version of Microsoft Office. The Mac version, which the latest version we have reviewed in detail, only comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook included. Not all hope is lost however as for ages Outlook was also not part of the package and Microsoft seems to have extended its focus of Office products on Mac. For Microsoft Access, however, this has not yet been the case.

    There are multiple solutions to circumvent this seemingly ‘mission impossible’, as an Intel-based Mac Pro is perfectly capable of running Windows. Since you probably want to achieve some integrated ‘feel’ to running Microsoft Access, especially when it is the sole reason for installing Windows, you might want to go down the virtual machine path. The current options for Mac are:

    • Parallels 6 is perhaps the most popular non-free options for running Windows virtually on your Mac Pro (or any other Mac for that matter). We have previously explained the proper method of installing Windows 7 on your Mac through Parallels 6, which will eventually let you run Windows apps in ‘coherence’ mode, meaning as if they were Mac apps.
    • VMware Fusion 3 is the latest installment of the other popular paid virtual machine for OS X. The application is fairly similarly equipped as compared to Parallels and whichever one is your favorite is mostly a matter of taste. In any case, you can run Windows application integrated in OS X, here dubbed as ‘Unity View’, pretty much just like Parallels, which is really what we are after here.
    • VirtualBox is the last but only free options amongst virtual machines. Naturally, you will not get as many features and the integration may not be as deep as with the previously mentioned two, but you cannot beat the price. When you are on a budget but want to try out Microsoft Access on your Mac Pro through a virtual machine, VirtualBox will be your first choice.

    Running virtual machines parallel to your OS X installation does require your Mac to be in good shape, hardware-wise. Mac Pro’s should not encounter any problems and Microsoft Access should therefore run smoothly through any of the above-mentioned candidates. In conclusion, this is probably the best (although in some case the most costly) method of using Microsoft Access on your Mac Pro.

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    Microsoft Access Through Boot Camp

    Naturally, as most recent Mac users be well aware of it is also possible to install Windows through the already built-in Boot Camp. It comes on your Mac OS X install disc upon purchasing the operating system, no extra costs besides the Windows OS are required. Although this might be an obvious advantage, you will find the disadvantages of running Access through this method outweigh this gain, as they are plentiful.

    First of all, you will have to close down OS X to reboot into Windows, which can be a tedious process. Especially when you have to read a single Access document or make only a small adjustment, this process can greatly impact your work-flow. Furthermore, you will not be able to interact with Mac applications, and copying or comparing between software is not done. Although it may be the native and free option available, it does not outweigh the integration you can achieve with a virtual machine.

    Using Microsoft Access can most certainly be a realistic option on a Mac Pro when you know where to find the right software. Although nothing can beat using Access on a Windows system natively, for Mac users this is the next best thing and a method that has been and still is constantly improving. With these things in mind there is only one conclusion to the question whether you can use Access on a Mac Pro? The answer is yes and even comfortably!