Solved: Images Disappear on MS Access Reports

After much gnashing of teeth, I solved my problem of Microsoft Access not showing embedded images on reports in print preview / PDF export. There are many flavors of this problem and dozens of solutions. None of them worked for me except this:

Make the image file a manageable size and easily readable format.

I was able to use the images as embedded (not linked), zoom display mode, and left the “Preserve source image format” option selected under Access Options –> Current Database –> Application Options –> Picture Property Storage Format. Nearly every solution available involved sacrificing the portability of embedded images, changing the display mode to stretch or clip (either of those display modes would have required me to reposition every overlaid page element), or forcing the app to convert everything to bitmaps and needlessly fattening the database size. One solution involved patching Access to fix a known image display bug.

The database I was working on was an Access 2002-2003 database (*.mdb file extension) and I was using MS Access 2016. Initially, I tried embedding the images as JPG format. Seemingly at random, the embedded images would just disappear when viewing the report in Print Preview. I tried all of the solutions I mentioned above. When none of them worked, I started changing random things out of desperation. First I tried bitmap format and it seemed to work but the next time I opened the MDB, it stopped working again. I then tried PNG format. Here are the image specs I used:

  • Save as Portable Network Graphic (PNG) format
  • If using Photoshop, save it on “smallest size/slowest save” setting
  • For a 7.5″ x 10″ report size (Letter sized, portrait orientation, minus a 1/2″ margin all around), I found that 1587 x 2143 pixels, 200 dpi, and 24bit color depth looked fine for a black-and-white background, provided suitable print quality and sufficiently small size

…and this one was a winner! The MS Access Report displayed the images correctly in Report View AND Print Preview. And the other nagging problem, disappearing images when exporting using the MS Access built-in PDF maker – solved. Images no longer disappear and my dental work is no longer suffering. Sorry Dr. Bass, no tooth caps required this week.