Shortcuts – How to get from Point A to
Point B with the Least Amount of Effort
I recently took up a new hobby - Geocaching. For those of you who
have not heard of this pastime, it's been best described as a
high-tech treasure hunt. It uses a Ground Positioning System (GPS)
Receiver to locate treasure, typically hidden in the woods. You
basically go online (http:
//www.geocaching.com is a popular site) to find treasures near
you. First, you use your GPS unit to get to the general location of
the cache and then you use the internet for specific clues that
(hopefully) lead you to the treasure.
I'm enjoying this hobby so much that I've started recruiting my
friends to do it too, and recently moved up to a new GPS unit that
also does street navigation. In my car I'm discovering all sorts of
shortcuts for getting from one place to another. I've saved hours
using the shortcuts that the GPS unit has shown me.
Inspired by my new hobby, this month's issue examines shortcuts
in Access that can save you lots of time.
The best news about shortcuts is that many of the shortcuts
you've learned from Microsoft Office programs (e.g. Word,
Excel) will work in Access. I won't list those here since you
probably already know them, nor will I try to be comprehensive
in my coverage of shortcuts. My aim this month is to review my
favorite Access shortcuts that you may not discover on your
Copy a field from the prior Record
users spend much of their time looking at or manipulating data
in forms. There are a couple of shortcuts that can be real
time savers here. The one I use most often is Control-"
(holding down the control key while pressing the double quotes
key at the same time). This shortcut will copy the field from
the prior record into the same field in the current record.
This actually works the same way for both list forms (forms
that show a few details for many records aka continuous forms
in Access) and single record forms (forms that show more
detail for a single record). Using this shortcut in a list
form will copy the value directly above the field the cursor
is currently in. However, the exact same thing holds true for
single record forms. What's neat about this is even though you
can't see the prior record, the data will still be copied.
Turn a Table into a Form
Under the Forms Tab
- Choose New
- This will bring up a form with several choices. Choose
Autoform (any of the choices for Autoform will work)
- In the bottom part of the form choose the table or query
section that you want to turn into a form
- Click OK
Voila, you've created a form with almost no effort. I think
you'll agree that you'll need to do some work to make it
pretty, but the bang for the buck here is huge.
To Explicitly Save a Record
A record is saved in
Access when you close a form or move to another record. You
can tell that a record has not been saved by looking on the
right hand side of the form or table. If the record has not
yet been saved you'll see a small pencil icon.
Sometimes when you're dealing with a complex form and want
to make sure that things are saved before you're completely
finished, you can force a save by hitting Control-Enter. When
you do this the pencil will turn into a black triangle and
you'll know the record was saved.
Copy a Record
This can be a real time-saver.
Let's say that you're working in a table and you need to add a
new record that's almost identical to an existing record. The
easiest way to do this is to:
- Select a record (left click in the grey box on left hand
side of the table)
- Choose Edit Copy (Ctrl-C) from the menu at the top of
- Choose Paste Append from the Edit Menu
You'll get an exact copy of your record, with the exception
that any autonumber key will appropriately tick up to the next
number. All you have to do at this point is change the fields
that are different in the new record.
Close a Table View
To close a table view, use
Control-F4. As a matter of fact, this shortcut will also work
in forms, reports and queries.
These are just a few of my favorite Access shortcuts. I
hope that they will save you time and effort as you create and
use your Access databases. Let me know if you have favorite
shortcuts that are especially useful that I may have
overlooked or not yet discovered.
One of my readers recently confirmed my feelings about
redundant data - see February
2005. He says:
I strongly recommend that your readers listen very
carefully to your recommendation to avoid storing redundant
data. It is a pit that I fell into. As the number of tables,
queries, forms, reports and modules increase within your
Access program, problems associated with redundant data seems
to grow exponentially, especially if you're joining queries on
the redundant data. It takes a long time to go back and remove
redundant data, but over the long term it is better to do
L. Guilmartin -- H20 Software Groton MA firstname.lastname@example.org
As I've mentioned numerous times in this newsletter, the
best approach is to avoid storing redundant data at the onset,
when you're designing your Access database. If you eliminate
the redundant data from the start, you can avoid the arduous
task of removing redundant data in an active database sometime
down the road.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or suggestions feel
free to send them along.
Tip of the month - forgoing the mouse for keyboard
Back when I worked in Corporate America, I had a colleague
who was very good with computers. This was just around the
time when Windows 95 was coming out and mice were becoming
common (oh-oh, I think I'm showing my age).
When he first got a mouse, he told me that he'd never use
it; as a matter of fact he said, "I'd just as soon carry a
pink purse as to go mousing around my computer." His method
was to use every keyboard shortcut available. He was a whiz at
speeding through menus and seemed to know an incredibly long
list of shortcuts. He gained much of his knowledge by keeping
his eye on the menus at the top of the screen.
If you look closely, you'll notice that some of the letters
of the words in the menus are underlined. These underlined
letters indicate "hot-keys," or actions that can be selected
by holding down the Alt Key and typing the underlined letter.
It's the equivalent of choosing the same menu item with the
Try this and pretty soon you'll find yourself using your
mouse less and less.
Bonus Tip: To see every keyboard shortcut in
Access, open up Help and do a search on the term "Keyboard
Shortcuts." You'll find more ways to speed around your
application than you ever thought possible.
By the way, after six months my friend conceded that there
were some things a mouse was really better for then the
keyboard; however I could never get him to parade around the
office with a pink purse.