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Quick Tour of Access 2002In this, the Information Age, we're all surrounded by mountains of data. To use this data effectively, the information must be stored so it can be retrieved and interpreted with flexibility and efficiency. Microsoft Access 2002 is the ideal database management system that you can use for all your information management needs, from a simple address list to a complex inventory management system. It provides tools not only for storing and retrieving data but also for creating useful forms, reports, and interactive Web data pages. All you need is a basic acquaintance with Microsoft Windows and a sense of exploration to build the database you need. This chapter shows you how to start Access 2002 and gives you a tour of the Access workplace. If you're already an experienced user, you may want to scan the material in this chapter quickly and move on to Chapter 2 for insight into the power of the tool called a relational database.
Starting Access and Opening a DatabaseYou can start most software built for the Windows 95/98 environment in the same way: by clicking the Start button and pointing to Programs in the Start menu. Depending on how you installed Access 2002, the name may appear as a separate item in the Programs list or as one of the programs in the Microsoft Office XP menu. If you don't see Microsoft Access in the Programs list, choose Microsoft Office XP and then click Microsoft Access. When first opened, the Access main window displays a floating New File side pane offering you a choice of creating a new database or opening one of the existing database files, as shown in Figure 1-1. The upper panel contains the names of databases that were recently opened (your list will be different). The Access opening window is where your session with Access begins. The side pane in Figure 1-1 appears only when Access first starts or when you choose File I New. For now, click the Close button (the x in the upper-right corner) to close the side pane and leave the Access window empty for a tour of the window.
Launch Access and Start a Database at the Same TimeIf you usually work with the same database in Access, you can quickly launch Access and open the database with one mouse click. To start Access and open the database:
- 1. Click the Start button and point to Documents.
2. Choose your database file from the list (see Figure 1-2). The icon preceding the document name identifies the type of document. If your system displays file extensions, an Access database file shows the .mdb extension.
Touring the Access WindowThe Access window (see Figure 1-3) shows a title bar, a menu bar, and a toolbar common to Windows 95/98 programs. In addition to displaying the program name, Microsoft Access, the title bar contains buttons you can use to manipulate the window:
- The Close button closes the program.
- The Maximize button appears only when the window is less than maximum size and enlarges the window to fill the screen.
- The Restore button replaces the Maximize button when the window is maximized and returns the window to its previous reduced size.
- The Minimize button reduces the window to an icon on the Windows taskbar.
- The Control Menu icon at the far-left end of the title bar opens a menu with the commands that accomplish the same things as the other buttons. Click the Control Menu icon to open the menu.
Most of the menu commands are dimmed and unavailable in the empty Database window. The File menu offers options to create a new database or to open an existing one. Other options, such as the Toolbars option in the View menu, let you tailor the database workplace. All the Help menu options are available.
The buttons on the toolbar offer shortcuts to many of the commonly used menu commands. Most of the toolbar buttons are dimmed, which indicates they're also unavailable when no database is active. Even if a button is dimmed, you can still rest the mouse pointer on the button and see its name displayed below the button in a ScreenTip (called a ToolTip in earlier versions of Access). The toolbar, as well as the menu bar, presents different options, depending on the current activity.
The status bar, located at the bottom of the Access window, provides a running commentary about the ongoing task and the Access working environment. The right side of the status bar also shows boxes that indicate the presence of a filter and the status of various toggle keys such as INSERT, CAPS LOCK, SCROLL LOCK, and NUM LOCK.
If you're already familiar with Windows 95, you know the taskbar at the bottom of the screen shows a button for each program currently running. New with Windows 98, the taskbar shows a button for each open document, even if they are from the same program. These buttons make switching from one program or document to another quick and easy. Just click the name of the one you want to use and it becomes the active program or document. Notice the Microsoft Access button appears pressed in on the Windows taskbar, indicating it's the active application. If other programs are open, their buttons also appear in the taskbar, but only the currently active one appears pressed in.
Note: As more and more programs are started, the Windows taskbar buttons are narrowed so all can be seen in the taskbar. With many programs running at once, only the programs' icons and the first few letters of their names may be visible on the taskbar buttons.
Opening a DatabaseIf the database you want to open is listed in the side pane that appears when Access starts, you can open it by simply double-clicking the filename or by selecting it and choosing OK. If the one you want isn't on the list, click More Files. The Open dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-4. (Your list of folders and files will be different.) The same dialog box appears if Access is already running when you choose File I Open or click the Open toolbar button.
The Groups bar at the left contains five buttons, which you can click to open other folders or to return to the Windows desktop.
- The top button, History, opens the new Recent folder that contains the name, size, type, and date of the last modification for each recently accessed database. When you click the History button, the Recent folder name appears in the Look in box.
- The second button, My Documents (or the name of your personal default folder) shows the contents of that folder. This is the default display in the Open dialog box.
- The Desktop button displays a list of the desktop components on your computer you can move to, including such items as My Computer, My Documents, Network Neighborhood, and Online Services.
- The Favorites button displays the names of any folders and objects you've added to the Favorites folder.
- The Web Folders button displays the folders and objects you saved in Web folders.
The Open dialog box contains several buttons that help you find the file you want to open. You can see the name of each button by resting the mouse pointer on the button in the command bar. Table 1-1 describes the purpose of each of the buttons in the Open dialog box....