Whenever you're learning a new program, it's important to familiarize yourself with the program window and the tools within it. Working with Access is no different. Knowing your way around the Access environment will make learning and using Access much easier.
In this lesson, you will familiarize yourself with the Access environment, including the Ribbon, Backstage view, Navigation pane, and Document Tabs bar. You will also learn how to navigate with a navigation form if your database includes one.
Throughout this tutorial, we will be using a sample database. If you would like to follow along, you'll need to download our Access sample database. You will need to have Access installed on your computer in order to open the example.
Watch the video below to learn more about getting started in Access.
Access uses the Ribbon to organize commands. If you're new to Access or have more experience with older versions, you should first take some time to become familiar with the Access interface.
Click the buttons in the interactive below to become familiar with the Access interface.
The Quick Access Toolbar lets you access common commands no matter which tab is selected. You can customize the commands depending on your preference.
The Ribbon contains all of the commands you will need to perform common tasks in Access. It has multiple tabs, each with several groups of commands.
The Tell me box works like a search bar to help you quickly find tools or commands you want to use.
From here, you can access your Microsoft account information, view your profile, and switch accounts.
The Navigation pane displays all of the objects contained in your database. The objects are grouped by type. Double-click an object to open it.
All open objects are displayed in tabs on the Document Tabs bar. To view an object, click its tab.
The Record Navigation bar allows you to navigate records one at a time. Click the arrows to navigate through the records. You can jump to a specific record by typing its ID number into the box.
You can use the Record Search box to search for any term in the current object. The first result will be selected automatically. To navigate through additional results, press the Enter key on your keyboard.
Access uses features like the Ribbon and the Quick Access Toolbar—where you will find commands to perform common tasks in Access—as well as Backstage view.
Access uses a tabbed Ribbon system instead of traditional menus. The Ribbon contains multiple tabs, each with several groups of commands. For example, the Clipboard group on the Home tab contains the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands.
Some groups also have a small arrow in the bottom-right corner that you can click for even more options.
The Ribbon is designed to respond to your current task; however, you can choose to minimize the Ribbon if you find that it takes up too much screen space.
If you're having trouble finding a command you want, the Tell me feature can help. It works just like a regular search bar: Type what you're looking for, and a list of options will appear. You can then use the command directly from the menu without having to find it on the Ribbon.
The Quick Access Toolbar, located above the Ribbon, lets you access common commands no matter which tab you are on. By default, it shows the Save, Undo, and Redo commands. If you want, you can customize it by adding additional commands.
Note that the Save command only saves the current open object. In addition, the Undo command will not undo certain actions, like adding a record. Pay close attention to your information when using the Undo command to make sure it has the desired effect.
Backstage view gives you various options for saving, opening, and printing your database.
Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about using Backstage view.
You can use the arrow to close Backstage view and return to Access.
The Info pane will appear whenever you access Backstage view. It contains information on the current database and tools to help you compact, repair, and encrypt the database.
Click here to create a new database from scratch, or choose from a selection of templates.
From here, you can open databases from your computer, including those you've recently edited.
Use Save to save the current object. Use Save As to save a new version of the current object or even the entire database.
The Print pane contains options for printing the current object in your database.
Click here to close the current database.
From the Account pane, you can access your Microsoft account information, modify your theme and background, and sign out of your account.
Here, you can change various Access options. For example, you can choose a form to automatically display when your database is opened or modify the default cell and font style.
The Navigation pane is a list containing every object in your database. For easier viewing, the objects are organized into groups by type. You can open, rename, and delete objects using the Navigation pane.
The Navigation pane is designed to help you manage all of your objects; however, if you feel that it takes up too much of your screen space, you can minimize it.
If you want to make the Navigation pane smaller without fully minimizing it, you can resize it. Simply click and drag the right border of the Navigation pane. When it is the desired size, release your mouse.
By default, objects are sorted by type, with tables in one group, forms in another, and so on. However, if you want you can sort the objects in the Navigation pane into groups of your choosing. There are four sort options:
To further customize the appearance of the Navigation pane, you can minimize groups of objects you don't want to see. Simply click the upward double arrow next to the group name. To show a group, click the downward double arrow.
Some databases include a navigation form that opens automatically when the database is opened. Navigation forms are designed to be a user-friendly replacement of the Navigation pane. They contain tabs that allow you to view and work with common forms, queries, and reports. Having your frequently used objects available to you in one place lets you access them quickly and easily.
To open an object from a navigation form, click its tab. The object will be displayed within the navigation form. Once an object is open, you can work with it as you normally would. In the example below, the navigation form has tabs near the top-left for orders, customers, and menu items, and each one will open a corresponding object.
Generally, navigation forms include only the objects a typical user will need to work with fairly regularly, which is why your navigation form may not include every single form, query, or report. This makes it easier to navigate the database. By hiding tables and rarely used forms, queries, and reports, it also reduces the chance of the database being damaged by users accidentally editing or deleting necessary data.
For this reason, it's important to ask your database designer or administrator before working with objects that are not available in your navigation form. Once you have approval, you can simply maximize the Navigation pane and open the objects from there.