Microsoft Access: Lesson 1 - Introduction to Miscrosoft Access

Microsoft Access Interface



To get better acquainted with the user interface of Microsoft Access, we will use this section as a Practical Learning exercise.

The Title Bar

  1. As a regular Windows application, Microsoft Access shares some characteristics that are common to other programs. The top section of the interface is made of a wide bar called the title bar:

    Microsoft Access Title Bar

    The left section of the title bar displays a small picture known as the system icon. This icon is used to identify the application. The icon holds a list of actions you can perform to close, minimize, maximize, move or restore the application. To perform any of these actions, you would click the system icon. This would display its list:

    The System Menu

    This list can also be referred to as the system menu. To use one of its items, you can click it.

    To experiment with the system menu, click the system icon. If the Restore item is available, click it first
  2. Click the system icon again and click Move. Notice that the mouse pointer changes its shape into a cross
  3. Press and hold Shift (with your left hand). Then press the right arrow key (with your right hand) three times and press the down arrow key twice. Notice that the Microsoft Access window moves by units
  4. To move the window slowly, press and hold Ctrl(with your left hand). Then press and hold the left arrow key (with your right hand) while you are still holding Ctrl. Notice that these last two times, the window moves slowly
  5. To keep the window in its new position, press Enter
  6. The main area of a title bar is a long bar actually referred to as the title bar. This section is also used to perform the same operations available on the system menu. There are other operations you can perform different than the system menu depending on the way you click the main area of the title bar.
    To see an example, double-click the title bar. Notice that this maximizes Microsoft Access.
    The right section of the title bar displays three small squares referred to as the system buttons. They are used to minimize, maximize, restore or close Microsoft Access. These items are
Button Role
Minimizes the window
Maximizes the window
Restores the window
Close - Windows XP Closes the window

The Main Menu

  1. Under the title bar, there is a horizontal list of words. This list is made of items such as File, Edit, View, etc. Since there are various kinds of menus on this application, the menu on top will be referred to as the Main Menu and sometimes the Menu Bar.
    To use a menu item, you click one of its words and the menu expands. If an item is missing from the main menu, you can customize it.
    To experiment with the main menu, click File. There are four main types of menus you will encounter.
    When clicked, the behavior of a menu that stands alone depends on the actions prior to clicking it. Under the File menu, examples are Close or Exit
  2. A menu that is disabled is not accessible at the moment. This kind of menu depends on another action or the availability of something else.
    To see an example, on the main menu, double-click Window:
  3. A menu with three dots (known as an ellipsis) means that an intermediary action is required in order to apply its assignment. Usually, this menu would call a dialog box where the user would have to make a decision.
    As an example, on the main menu, position the mouse on File and click Open...
  4. On the dialog box, click Cancel
  5. A menu with an arrow holds a list of menu items under it. A menu under another menu is called a submenu. To use such a menu, you would position the mouse on it to display its submenu.
    For example, on the main menu, click Tools and position the mouse on Database Utilities
  6. To dismiss the menu, click Tools
  7. Notice that, on the main menu (and any menu), there is one letter underlined on each word. Examples are F in File, E in Edit, V in View, etc. The underlined letter is called an access key (the word access has nothing to do with Microsoft Access, it is used in this sense throughout Microsoft Windows and other operating systems). The access key allows you to access the same menu item using the keyboard. In order to use an access key, the menu should have focus first. The menu is given focus by pressing either the Alt or the F10 keys.
    To see an example, press Alt
  8. Notice that one of the items on the menu, namely File, has its borders raised. This means that the File menu item has focus
  9. Press t and notice that the Tools menu is expanded
  10. When the menu has focus and you want to dismiss it, you can press Esc.
    For example, press Esc
  11. Notice that the Tools menu has collapsed but the main menu still has focus
  12. Press f then press o. Notice that the Open dialog box displays.
  13. To dismiss the Open dialog box, click Cancel
  14. On some menu items, there is a key or a combination of keys we call a shortcut. This key or this combination allows you to perform the same action on that menu using the keyboard.
    If the shortcut is made of one key only, you can just press it. If the shortcut is made of two keys, press and hold the first one, while you are holding the first, press the second key once and release the first key. Some shortcuts are a combination of three keys.
    To apply an example, press and hold Ctrl, then press o, and release Ctrl
  15. Notice that the Open dialog box opens. To dismiss it, Click Cancel
From now on, in this book,
Press Means
T Press the T key
Alt, G Press and release Alt. Then press G
Ctrl + H Press and hold Ctrl. While you are still holding Ctrl, press H once. Then release Ctrl
Ctrl + Shift + E Press and hold Ctrl. Then press and hold Shift. Then press E once. Release Ctrl and Shift

The Toolbars

Under the menu bar, there is another bar made of various buttons. This is called a toolbar. The toolbars change a lot in Microsoft Access. As you spend more time with this application you will learn how to recognize these toolbars. Each toolbar has a proper name and we will learn how to recognize them.

At times, there will be many toolbars that come and go while you are using Microsoft Access. For this reason, we will refer to each toolbar by its name. To know the name of a toolbar, you can right-click any word on the menu bar or any button on the toolbar. If you have only one toolbar on your screen, its name will have a check box. The other name(s) on the context menu is (are) the one (those) you can add to the screen if you wish:

You could also create your own toolbar.

The Status Bar

The status bar is a long horizontal bar that spans the whole button section of Microsoft Access. It will be used to provide some assistance or information about an item that is displaying or being accessed in Microsoft Access. At this time, it may be displaying Ready (and it means it)


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