MS Access

Using Menus

This lesson explains one of the best ways to give commands to Accessby using the . Menus for all Windows programs can be found at the top of a window, just beneath the program's title bar. In figure, notice the words File, Edit, View, Insert, and Tools. The next steps will show you why they're there.

The File menu.

The Customize dialog box.

  1. Click the word File on the menu bar.

    A menu drops down from the word File, as shown in figure. The File menu contains a list of file-related commands, such as New, which creates a new file; Open, which opens or loads a saved file; Save, which saves the currently opened file; and Close, which closes the currently opened file. Move on to the next step to try selecting a command from the File menu.

  2. Click the word Open in the File menu.

    The Open dialog box appears. You don't need to open a database quite yet, so...

  3. Click the Cancel button to close the Open dialog box.

    Notice that each of the words in the menu has an underlined letter somewhere in it. For example, the "F" in the File menu is underlined. Holding down the Alt key and pressing the underlined letter in a menu does the same thing as clicking it. For example, pressing the Alt key and then the F key would open the File menu. Move on to the next step and try it for yourself.

  4. Press the Alt key and then press the F key.

    The File menu appears. Once you open a menu, you can navigate to a different menu by using either the mouse or the Alt key and the letter that is underlined in the menu name.

    If you open a menu and then change your mind, it is easy to close it without selecting any commands. Click anywhere outside the menu or press the Esc key.

  5. Click anywhere outside the menu to close the menu without issuing any commands.

    The menus in Access 2003 work quite a bit differently than in other Windows programs even previous versions of Access! Microsoft Access 2003 displays its menu commands on the screen in three different ways:

    • By displaying every command possible, just like most Windows programs, including earlier versions of Access.

    • By hiding from view the commands you don't use as frequently (the more advanced commands).

    • By displaying the hidden commands if you click the downward-pointing arrows at the bottom of the menu or keep the menu open for a few seconds.

  6. Click the word Tools in the menu.

    The most common menu commands appear in the . Some people feel intimidated when confronted with so many menu options, so the menus in Office XP don't display the more advanced commands at first. To display a menu's advanced commands, either click the downward-pointing arrow at the bottom of the menu or keep the menu open for a few seconds.

  7. Click the downward-pointing arrow at the bottom of the .

    The more advanced commands appear shaded on the Tools menu.

    If there isn't a downward-pointing arrow at the bottom of the Tools menu, skip this step and move on to Step 8.

    If you're accustomed to working with earlier versions of Microsoft Office, you may find that hiding the more advanced commands is disconcerting. If so, you can easily change how the work. Here's how:

  8. Select View » Toolbars » Customize from the menu and click the Options tab.

    The appears, as shown in figure. This is where you can change how Access's menus work. There are two check boxes here that are important:

    • Always show full menus: Clear this check box if you want to hide the advanced commands.

    • Show full menus after a short delay: If this option is checked, Access waits a few seconds before displaying the more advanced commands on a menu.

  9. Click Close.

See table below for the menus in Access and their descriptions.

Menus Found in Microsoft Access


File-related commands to open, close, print, and create new files.


Commands to copy, cut, paste, find, and replace text.


Commands to change how the screen is displayed.


Items that you can insert into a database, such as graphics and charts.


Commands to format fonts, cell alignment, and borders.


Commands to add, delete, sort, and filter information.


Tools such as the spell checker and macros. You can also change the default options for Microsoft Access here.


Commands to display and arrange multiple windows (if you have more than one file open).


Provides help with using Microsoft Access.

To open a menu:

  • click the menu name with the mouse.


  • press alt and then the underlined letter in the menu.

to display a menu's hidden commands:

  • click the downward-pointing arrow at the bottom of the menu.


  • open the menu and wait a few seconds.

to change how menus work:

  1. select view » toolbars » customize from the menu and click the options tab.

  2. check or clear either the always show full menus and/or show full menus after a short delay options, then click close.

  3. check always show full menus to show more advanced menu commands.