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The Access Wizard Newsletter Tips, Tricks, and Traps for Access Users and Developers
March 2010

Hidden Info: How to Get to Access's Path

When my sons were considerably younger than they are now (just out of college, and a sophomore in college), we used to play an early videogame called Mario Brothers. The idea of the game was to rescue a princess trapped in a castle. Of course, the real action took place along the way where there were many obstacles. The game usually took quite a bit of time to complete, and my kids were always much better at it than I was. One secret to the game involved a shortcut that avoided most of the obstacles and led to a much faster solution.

While playing the game, a casual inspection would in no way indicate that there was a secret door that led to a shortcut and a series of interesting places. The only way to know of this obscure path to hidden lands was through knowledge of the game or by information picked up from others.

In a like way, there are hidden doors in Access that lead to all sorts of information. That's what we'll be talking about this month: A door that can lead you to information that you might not otherwise be able to easily learn - SYSCMD.

In this Issue
  • Tip of the Month: Redock the Immediate Window
  • The Path to Access
  • SYSCMD Commands

  • The Path to Access

    Last month, I told you about a way of recovering from corruption, a process called decompiling and recompiling. To decompile, you have to know where the Access program lives in your system. If you installed Access yourself on your local C drive, this is a relatively straightforward process. However, if someone else installed the program and put it in an unusual spot, or if the program lives on a network, it may not be easy to figure out where the program is located.

    If you start Access from an icon, you can right-click on the icon, choose properties, and then choose find target. However, if your icon is pointing to a specific database file rather than to the Access program, you'll get the path to the file rather than to the master Access program.

    Getting to the Access path is relatively simple if you know the SYSCMD trick. Luckily, the process is straightforward.

    Open up any database file using Access. Press and hold the control key, then press release the G Key. This will bring you to a code window and land you in the immediate pane. From here, you can give commands to Access and get information. To do this, you type a question mark followed by a command.

    In this case, type

    ? syscmd(acSysCmdAccessDir)

    and then hit return. If all goes well, you'll get the path to Access. You can then use this to build the command to decompile your application as I reviewed in last month's issue.


    SYSCMD Commands

    Once you are in the window, I would urge you to explore a little bit by typing syscmd followed by an open parenthesis. When you do this, you will see a variety of commands that you can give, each of which will provide you with information. After you've explored a bit, you will want to store this feature for future reference. It will be another handy tool in your toolbox.


    Tip of the Month: Redock the Immediate Window

    If you have done any work at all in the code window and have used the immediate pane, you may find from time to time that the immediate window becomes undocked. It usually lives in the lower right-hand corner of the screen when you're in code. However, periodically, you might find that you've dragged it away from its home, and the window floats around getting in the way.

    This is really annoying behavior, and getting it back to its home spot is a really persnickety process that requires a very precise placement and a specific sequence of keystrokes. Luckily, there is a much easier way to redock the window. All you have to do is grab the title bar of the immediate window, then drag it the very bottom of the screen so that is just about out of sight.

    At that point, you will see that the immediate window jumps back into its normal spot, at which point you can release the mouse.

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