Check Out This New Way to Navigate in Microsoft Access

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated October 10, 2016

Applies to: Microsoft® Access® 2010, 2013 and 2016

Starting in Microsoft Access 2010, you can create a new type of form called a navigation form which includes one or more navigation controls.  Navigation forms can be used to quickly display forms and reports within a form.  This type of form can be created for desktop Access databases but not Access web apps. To use the navigation form, ensure that you are viewing the form in Form View.

Recommended article 10 Techniques for Designing Forms in Microsoft Access

Create a navigation form

To create a navigation form:

  1. Open the desktop database to which you want to add a navigation form.
  2. Click the Create tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Forms group, click Navigation and then select the style of navigation form that you want from the drop-down menu. A form is created with one or more navigation controls and is displayed in Layout View.

Micrososft Access Ribbon with Navigation Form button selected.

Add form or report buttons to a navigation form

To add a form or report button to a navigation form:

  1. If the Navigation Pane is not displayed, press F11 to display it.
  2. Ensure that the navigation form appears in Layout View by right-clicking the form in the Navigation Pane and selecting Layout View.
  3. Drag a form or report from the Navigation Pane onto the [Add New] button on the form. Access creates the new navigation button and displays the form or report in the object pane.
  4. Continue adding more forms or reports in the same way.

Micrososft Access navigation form with buttons.

You will need to close and save the form before it will appear in the Navigation Pane.

Change the title on the form

When you create a navigation form, the label “Navigation Form” is added to the form header by default.

To change the title (label) on the form:

  1. Open the navigation form in Layout View by right-clicking the form in the Navigation Pane and selecting Layout View. You can also edit the label in Design View.
  2. Click the label in the form header once to select it.
  3. Click the label again to place the cursor in the label.
  4. Enter a new title.
  5. Press Enter.

Edit the tab or window caption of the form

The form caption is the text that appears in the document tab of the form or in the window title bar if you have set the database to display objects as overlapping windows.

To edit the form caption:

  1. Open the navigation form in Layout View by right-clicking the form in the Navigation Pane and selecting Layout View. You can also edit the form caption in Design View.
  2. Right-click in the form header and select Form Properties. If you are in Design View, right-click and select Properties. A Property Sheet appears.
  3. In the Property Sheet, click the All tab.
  4. Enter the caption title you’d like in the Caption property and press Enter.

Micrososft Access Properties to change caption.

Quickly format forms using themes

You can quickly format the form using themes. With themes, you can quickly change all of the colors and fonts that are used in a database. Themes apply to all objects in the database not just the current object.

To change the theme:

  1. Open any form or report in Layout or Design View by right-clicking on the form or report in the Navigation Pane and then selecting Layout View or Design View.
  2. Click the Form Design Tools Design tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Themes group, select a theme in the Themes Gallery to apply different color and font themes to the database. You can hover over each item to see a live preview of the theme and then click on one to apply it.
  4. To change colors only, choose a color theme from the Colors gallery.
  5. To change fonts only, choose a font theme from the Fonts gallery.

Microsoft Access themes on the Ribbon.

Quickly format navigation buttons

To quickly change the format of navigation buttons, you can use Quick Styles. You can apply unique styles to each button or apply the same style to all buttons.

To format buttons on a navigation form using Quick Styles:

  1. Open the navigation form in Layout View by right-clicking the form in the Navigation Pane and selecting Layout View. You can also edit the form in Design View.
  2. Select the navigation button that you want to change. You can Shift-click on multiple buttons.
  3. Click the Form Layout Tools Format tab in the Ribbon in Layout View or Form Design Tools Format tab in the Ribbon in Design View.
  4. In the Control Formatting group, select the styles you want to apply from the Quick Styles drop-down menu.

Micrososft Access Quick Styles for buttons.

Set a navigation form as the startup form

It’s common to display this type of form whenever the desktop database is opened.

To display a navigation form as the startup form:

  1. Ensure that you have saved the form. To save a form, right-click the tab or title bar of the form and select Save. Enter a name if necessary and click OK.
  2. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Select Options. A dialog box appears.
  4. In the categories on the left, select Current Database.
  5. Under Application Options, select the navigation form from the Display Form list.
  6. Click OK.

Microsoft Access set a form as a startup form in the Options dialog box.

If you are working with SharePoint, to set the default form that is displayed when you open the database on a SharePoint server, under Application Options, select the form from the Web Display Form list.

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