What Is an ADE File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert ADE Files

Screenshot of several ADE files in Windows 10
ADE Files.

A file with the ADE file extension is a Microsoft Access Project Extension file.

ADE files are just ADP files that have had their VBA-programmed modules compiled and the editable source code stripped to prevent reading or changing the source code. Although the two file formats behave the same when used, ADE files are also compressed to save disk space and improve performance.

An ADE file may instead be an ADC Audio file, but it's much more likely that one you find will be in this MS Access format.

How to Open an ADE File

Microsoft Access is used to open ADE files.

I'm not aware of the software used to open ADC Audio files, but it's possible that the file is just using the ADE extension only nominally, meaning the audio is actually saved under a more common format but just named .ADE so that it can be easily associated with a specifically installed program.

You can try renaming the ADE file to another audio format, like MP3 (e.g. rename file.ade to file.mp3), and see if opens in your default media player. If it doesn't, another option is to use a program that supports a wide range of file formats, like VLC, and try to play the file that way

Note: This "renaming maneuver" doesn't work with common file formats like DOCX, PDF, MP4, etc. unless they, too, are given different extensions only so that they open in a certain program. You can read more about file extensions and why you can't just rename them in our What Is a File Extension? piece.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the ADE file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open these types of files, see our How to Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for instructions on making those changes in Windows.

How to Convert an ADE File

When an ADP file is saved as an ADE file (which is how they're built), you cannot convert the file back to an ADP file, or any other format for that matter, because the source code no longer exists. Because of this, unfortunately, an ADE file cannot be converted to any other format.

If the ADE file is an ADC Audio file, you could try the renaming advice you read about above. If you manage to get the file to work after you've appended .MP3 (or some other music extension) to the end of the file name, you can use one of these free audio converters to convert the newly-renamed MP3 file to any other audio format.

More Information on ADE Files

Unless you have access to the original ADP file, you're prevented from doing all of the following when you save the ADP file in the ADE format:

  • Since it has been removed, you cannot change the code in the ADE file
  • Under the ADE format, there's no way to create, view, edit, import, or export reports or modules
  • You also can't add, remove, or edit an ADE file's database references

Although you're unable to import/export reports or modules in an ADE file, you can import tables, stored procedures, diagrams, and macros, as well as export them out of the ADE file for use in other Microsoft Access files.

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Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the ADE file and whether you think it's an Access-based ADE file, or a music file ending in ADE.