Guides To Design & Customize A Functional Switchboard For Ms Access Database

The switchboard manager is one of the features of a form object in MS Access that is used to control the records in a database. It creates a form or user interface that will used to access other objects of the database. You can always customize the switchboard to your own taste. Switchboard manager is used create buttons which will be used to open forms, and pages and exit the objects in a database. It makes your database behave like a software application of its own. In this tutorial part, I will give you a step by step guide on how to design a powerful and functional switchboard and show you how to customize tabs, Quick Access toolbar, groups and even create new ones in Microsoft Access.
how to design and customize a professional switchboard through the access switchboard manager
As a database manager, after designing a database for an organization, you should make it behave as if it is a software by doing the following in the database:

1. Design a user interface for the database.
2. Password-protect the database’
3. Assign a group or user protection for the entire MS Access application (that is in an organization where they use the computer for database administration).

All these make your database standard and dynamic.
This is part 3 and last part of chapter 8 of the Free Online Access Tutorial Series at Microsoft Tutorial website. In this part, I will explicitly explain how to build professional switchboard user interface for your MS Office Access database through the switchboard manager. I will also show you how to add hidden commands icons to any existing or custom tab.

In the previous part (Part 2), I explained how to password protect or remove a password from a database in any version of MS Access in detail. Also see the full tutorial course content of this Microsoft Access Tutorial Series.


The switchboard manager includes built-in commands for common tasks, such as opening a table, form, query, report and macros.  Macros can be created to initiate additional actions. It creates macro codes which are then tied to buttons on the switchboard.
You can create a switchboard from the scratch using an unbound form.  However, MS Access provides a Switchboard Manager which automatically builds the code to make buttons work.  I advise you to use the Switchboard Manager because also makes it easy to add new buttons, rearrange buttons, and delete buttons.

When you create a switchboard using the Switchboard Manager tool, Access creates a Switchboard Items table that describes what the buttons on the form display and what actions they perform. If you change your switchboard manually, the application may no longer work.

To Create a Switchboard in MS Access:

1. Click Switchboard Manager located in the Database Tools group under the Database Tools tab. A warning pops up if you have not previously created a switchboard for that particular database asking if you want to create a new switchboard. Just click the Yes button. Then the Switchboard Manager dialogue box pops up as shown below. This creates a Main Switchboard. You can either add all your switchboard commands to the Main Switchboard or create secondary switchboards.
The switchboard manager dialogue box


If you cannot find the Switchboard Manager icon under the Database Tools tab in the Database Tools group, it means it is still hidden, so you need to add it under the Database Tools tab. Check the next subheading to see how to customize your tabs and add hidden command icons.

2. Click Edit to make changes to the Main Switchboard.  Click New to create a secondary switchboard. This prompts the Create New dialog box appears. If you create secondary switchboards, make sure that each switchboard has a command to go back to the Main Switchboard.

3. Type the name of the new switchboard and click OK. Microsoft Access adds the switchboard to the list in the Switchboard Pages box.


To create additional secondary switchboards, repeat steps 2 through 3 and then click the Close button.

4. After you create your switchboard, you will have to add items or menu commands that perform various tasks such as opening forms and reports in the database. The items that you add to the switchboard appear as command buttons. To add new items or menu commands to the main switchboard, highlight it, click the Edit and then click the New button to add items to the switchboard. This prompts the Edit Switchboard Item dialogue box as shown below.
Click edit and click new to add new items or commands
5. Customize the item by entering the name of the button, selecting the appropriate command, and then selecting the desired outcome of the command.  Click OK when finished. Note that there are several built-in commands for common tasks.


To add other item or commands to the main switchboard, repeat steps 4 and 5. Click the Close button when you have finished adding items. Also note that you can re-arrange buttons on this screen by using the Move Up and Move Down buttons.

6. Click the Close button to close the Switchboard Manager dialogue box.

7. The Switchboard Manager automatically creates a Switchboard Items table. Display the Switchboard upon Start.

Below is the list of some available switchboard commands and the actions they perform.

1. Go to Switchboard: Opens a secondary switchboard.

2. Open Form in Add Mode: Opens a form in a mode that only allows new records to be added.

3. Open form in Edit Mode: Opens a form in a mode that allows any record to be added or edited.

4. Open Report: Opens a report in Print Preview.

5. Design Application: Opens the Switchboard Manager.

6. Exit Application: Closes the current database.

7. Run Macro: Runs a macro.

8. Run Code: Runs a Visual Basic function.

Note that you can add buttons and embedded macros to start your database components, and then set the form to appear at startup. I will show you how to achieve that in the next two sub titles below. For now let me show you how to customize tabs and add new command in them.


By default, not all the necessary commands are displayed under the tabs and Quick Access toolbar. For example, the Switchboard Manager command is not found in the Database Tools group under the Database Tools tab by default. But you can add it to that tab or any other tab of your choice in MS Access. You can even create new custom tabs and groups under the tabs and then add your desired commands in them.

To Customize the Database Tools Tabs and Add the Switchboard Manager Command in it:

1. Click the File tab and click Options to prompt the Access Options dialogue box.

2. Click the Customize Ribbons option from the left section of the dialogue box. Click the Choose commands from: drop down arrow and select Commands Not in the Ribbon in the middle section of the dialogue box.

3. Next, from the resulting sub options, select Switchboard Manager. Commands can only be added to new groups. So you will need to create a new group under any tab that you want to add a command.

4. To create a group under the Database Tools tab, select the desired tab by clicking it once. Then click the New Group button. Access creates a new group under the tab you highlighted with a default name New Group (Custom) as shown below.
Click the new group button under the desired tab
5. You can also rename the custom group and choose an icon for it. To rename the custom group: Highlight the custom group and click the Rename button and choose an icon for it. Type in a new name for the custom group and click OK to close the Rename dialogue box. So rename the new group for the switchboard to Database Tools as shown below.
The rename group dialogue box
Now the next step is to add the desired command (Switchboard Manager) under the newly created custom tab. So with the desired command still selected in the middle section of the dialogue box, highlight the new custom group in the third section of the dialogue box and click the Add >> button. MS Access adds the desired command under the new custom group as shown below. Click Ok to close the Access Options dialogue box.
Click the add button to transfer the command to the new custom group

To make the Switchboard Automatically Appear whenever the Database is Opened:

1. Click the File tab and choose Options. This prompts the Access Options dialogue box.

2. From the Current Database tab on the left, select Switchboard from the Display Form: drop
down list and click OK to close the dialogue box as shown below. You can also add a custom Application title and icon to your database to customize it further and make it look more professional.
Select Switchboard from the drop down list and click ok
3. When you or any other user opens the database, MS Access will display the switchboard as shown below.
Final look of the switchboard


When you have successfully created an active and functional switchboard, you can now customize it and give some professional touches to the design. Actually, switchboards are forms and s you can use form design tools to customize the look.

To Further Customize your Switchboard:

1. Open the switchboard from the Navigation Pane.

2. Switch over to Design View.

3. Now format and customize the switchboard to your own taste.


Use the features in the Controls group on the Design tab to add images, text boxes, draw lines, etc.
The tools available on the Arrange tab are especially helpful for arranging controls to give them a professional look.

This is the end of chapter 8 of this FREE online MS Access tutorial training series. Congratulation! you have come to the end of this online Microsoft Access Tutorial.

Now click Here to get the full MS Access textbook in kindle and paperback format at amazon to study at your own convenience.

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