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Access Controls (Definitions)

Access includes several controls that a new user may have trouble identifying. When asking a question on UtterAccess, it's extremely helpful if you describe things with terms that we all agree on. To that end, the following list of controls should help you learn the names, and differences between the various controls that Access offers.




The simplest control is the Label control. It can easily be confused with the Textbox control, but a label has much less functionality. To get text to display in a label, you must assign a value to the label's Caption property. A label cannot be bound to a field in the form's/report's recordsource.



Strikingly similar to labels, Textboxes have far more functionality. A Textbox is often bound to a field in the form's/report's recordsource. It can also display the results of a hard-coded formula that includes both values and functions.

NOTE: A Textbox is NOT a field. A Field is a part of a recordset that can contain a value. A Textbox is a form/report CONTROL that displays a value from a data source or an expression. A Textbox stores nothing - it merely displays things. The difference is subtle - think of it this way: A television shows you a picture of a flower. The flower is the contents of a field. The soil around the flower is the recordset containing the field. The television is the textbox displaying the contents of a specific part of the soil.

Command Button


A command button is primarily used to trigger either a macro or VBA code, and cannot be bound to a field. Access handles all of the subtle stuff, like making it look like it's being pressed into the screen while you click on it. You can give a command button a text caption, or assign an image instead. In the example here, an image only was used in the demonstration. A Command Button Control is different from a Toggle Button Control in that a Command Button Control will pop up after you click it, while a Toggle Button Control will STAY depressed after you click it (until you click it a second time, when it pops back up.)

Hyperlink Control (label)


This appears as a separate item on the Design->Controls ribbon, but it is not truly a separate control type. This is merely a label control that has the .HyperlinkAddress property filled in with a value. By default, the label is set to blue text with an underline, because that is what simple hyperlinks look like. However, these properties are editable.

Option Group Control


The Option Group Control allows the user to select one (never more than one) choice. Editing an Option Group Control can be tricky. If you have three options, and want to add a fourth, copy one of the options, then select the Option Group Control and paste your new option.

Page Break Control


The Page Break Control is only visible in Design View. It appears as a horizontal line of dots on the left side of the report at whichever vertical position you insert/move it. If the Page Break Control's Visible property is set to False (via a VBA subroutine, for example), it will have no effect.

Combobox Control


The Combobox Control is a versatile and powerful tool for data entry. It can be used to select a value to be stored in a field, and can also be used as a record navigation aid. A Combobox can be easily identified by the small "down arrow" button on it's right side. The list of options becomes visible when you click this button. If you start typing the value you want, the combobox will attempt to "autofill" the rest, as long as what you type appears at the beginning of at least one choice. For clarity's sake, in the image above, the rectangular box on the left is just the optional, associated label control for the combobox itself. The Combobox control should not be confused with a Listbox Control. For more detailed information, see the Combo Box and Cascading Combo Box articles.

Toggle Button Control


The Toggle Button Control is usually bound to a Boolean field. It looks similar to a Command Button Control, but can be either in the "un-pressed button" state, or the "pressed button" state. A Toggle Button can optionally be set to a "Triple State" format, where it can appear either pressed, unpressed, or greyed-out, to indicate a Null (neither True nor False) value.

List Box Control


A List Box Control resembles a Combobox Control, but the list of options (or at least a few of the choices) are always visible, where a Combobox's list of choices will vanish after data entry is complete. A ListBox can be bound to a single field. Alternatively, it can set up to allow the user to make multiple selections, necessitating some VBA code to handle the selected values properly. For clarity's sake, in the image above, the rectangular box on the left is just the optional, associated label control for the listbox itself. The Listbox control should not be confused with a Combobox control.

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This page has been accessed 17,305 times.  This page was last modified 10:40, 3 April 2012 by Mark Davis. Contributions by BananaRepublic, Jack Leach and doctor9  Disclaimers