Microsoft Access Shortcut Keys for Data Entry and Navigation
Provided by: Molly Pell, Technical Project Manager
If you’ve ever used Microsoft Access forms to enter any quantity
of data, you know how tedious and time consuming it
can be. If you enter data regularly, becoming
familiar with data entry and navigation shortcuts
can save you significant time and effort.
You’re probably aware of some of the basic shortcut
keys, and hopefully use them regularly:
- [Tab] sets focus to the next field.
- [Ctrl]+[Enter] inserts a new line in multi-line controls.
- [Ctrl]+[C] copies the selected text onto the clipboard.
- [Ctrl]+[X] cuts the selected text, and put it on the clipboard.
- [Ctrl]+[V] pastes the clipboard contents.
- [Ctrl]+[F] opens the Find dialog.
- [Ctrl]+[Z] undoes the last action.
- [Ctrl]+[A] selects all text in the current field.
- [Shift]+[F2] opens zoom box to edit the current field in its own,
larger, dialog box.
- [Spacebar] toggles the value of a check box or option button.
- [F7] checks spelling.
- [Esc] undoes changes to the current field or the current record (press [Esc] twice to undo both).
But there are several lesser-known accelerator shortcut keys
that can simplify your typing and keep you working mouse-free. The lists
below include some of the shortcuts that I find most useful, but Access
offers many more shortcuts for you to take advantage of. For a list, refer
“Keyboard Shortcuts” topic (online or in the Microsoft Access help
Don’t Type When Access Does it For You
- [Ctrl]+[;] inserts the current date.
This is invaluable if you keep historical records, or include the date in
any notes or other fields in your database. It not only saves time, but
ensures data accuracy and keeps you from having to remember the date.
- [Ctrl]+[:] inserts the current time.
Like the Insert Date shortcut, this feature can save more time than you
realize, and it also helps to keep your data accurate.
- [Ctrl]+['] inserts the value from the same field in the
When you need to enter several records consecutively, you probably find that
many of the fields are the same from record to record. Using the clipboard
to copy data can help, but you may need to enter several fields of duplicate
information (your name in one field, the date in another field, and some
generic comments in a third). Use this shortcut to insert the same field’s
value from the previous record.
- [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Spacebar] inserts the default value for the
This comes in handy when you start typing, and then realize that you
should have kept the default.
Don’t Use the Mouse When You Can Use the Keyboard
- [Ctrl]+Arrow key combinations speed up navigation
[Ctrl]+[Left/Right Arrow] moves you to the beginning of the last/next word.
[Ctrl]+[Up/Down Arrow] moves you to the beginning of the last/next paragraph.
- [Shift] +Arrow key combinations select text
[Shift]+[Left/Right Arrow] selects one letter.
[Shift]+[Up/Down Arrow] selects one line.
[Ctrl]+ [Shift]+[Left/Right Arrow] selects a word.
[Ctrl]+ [Shift]+[Up/Down Arrow] selects a paragraph.
- [F2] switches between Edit mode and Navigation mode
Edit mode displays the insertion point. Navigation mode hides the
insertion point, and selects the entire field. When in Navigation mode, use
the arrow keys to move between fields.
- [F4] opens a combo box or list box
Use this keyboard shortcut to drop down the list, and then use the arrow
keys to select a value from the list.
- [Ctrl]+[+] adds a new record
- [Ctrl]+[-] deletes the current record
- [Shift]+[Enter] saves the current record
Switching records also saves the data, but it’s a good idea to save
frequently, especially if you’re entering a lot of data.
- [Ctrl]+[PgUp] goes to the previous record
- [Ctrl]+[PgDn] goes to the next record
Database Window and Searching
From anywhere in MS Access:
- [Alt]+[Ctrl]+[F] go to the Search box of the Navigation Pane
- [F11] to toggle (open or hide) the database window
- [Alt]+[F11] switch between VBA module editor and database
- [Ctrl]+[F4] close the currently open object (tabs)
- [Ctrl]+[F6] cycle between open objects (tabs)
From the database window:
- [F2] to rename the current object
- [F12] to save the current object as a new
Create your Own Shortcuts for Commonly Used Tasks
If you frequently find yourself using a
particular menu item that doesn’t have a shortcut key, it’s a good idea to
create one by customizing the toolbar. For details, refer to the following
topics online or in the Microsoft Access help file:Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Access
Remembering these shortcuts may seem like a
pain, and they may even slow you down at first. If you make a conscious
effort to use them, however, they will become second nature. Once you get
into the practice of using these shortcuts, you’ll wonder how you ever
worked productively without them.