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Providing switchboards in your application can help users to locate the necessary tasks. This article describes how to create and delete switchboards in Access, and shows how to add and modify the items in a switchboard.

Note: Access also provides a feature known as the Navigation Pane which you can use instead of switchboards to provide a way for users of your application to navigate around your application.

What do you want to do?

Create a switchboard

Before you create a switchboard, consider how you want users to locate the various forms and reports in the database and plan your navigation design accordingly. Should your needs change after you create a switchboard, you will be able to modify the design of your switchboard at any time.

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.

Since the Switchboard Manager only allows a maximum of eight command buttons on a switchboard, you might need additional switchboards that the user can navigate to from the Main Switchboard.

Starting in Access 2010, the Switchboard Manager isn't available on the Ribbon so you first need to add the command to the Quick Access Toolbar. The first few steps here show you how to add this command to the Quick Access Toolbar.

  1. Click the down arrow on the Quick Access Toolbar and then click More Commands. Access opens the Access Options dialog box with the Quick Access Toolbar section selected.

  2. In the Choose commands from combo box, select All Commands.

  3. Select Switchboard Manager and then click Add. Click OK to save your changes and to close the Access Options dialog box.

  4. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click Switchboard Manager to open the tool.

    Microsoft Access asks if you'd like to create a switchboard, click Yes. This creates a Main Switchboard. You can either add all your switchboard commands to the Main Switchboard or create secondary switchboards.

  5. To create secondary switchboards, click New.

    Note: If you create secondary switchboards, make sure that each switchboard has a command to go back to the Main Switchboard.

    The Create New dialog box appears.

  6. Type the name of the new switchboard and click OK.

    Microsoft Access adds the switchboard to the list in the Switchboard Pages box.

    You can add secondary switchboard names at this point.

  7. Repeat steps 5 through 6 for each secondary switchboard you want to create, and then click Close.

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Add items to a switchboard

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.

  1. From the Switchboard Manager dialog box, select the switchboard, and then click Edit.

    The Edit Switchboard Page dialog box appears.

  2. Click New.

    The Edit Switchboard Item dialog box appears.

  3. Type the name of your command item in the Text box, and select a suitable command from the Command list.

    For example, if the item is Customer Data, select Open Form In Add Mode.

    Note: To create a switchboard that branches to other switchboards, click the Go To Switchboard command in the Command box, and then either select a switchboard from the list or enter the name of the other switchboard.

  4. Click OK.

  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 until you have added all the required commands to the switchboard.


Action performed

Go to Switchboard

Opens a secondary switchboard.

Open Form in Add Mode

Opens a form in a mode that only allows new records to be added.

Open form in Edit Mode

Opens a form in a mode that allows any record to be added or edited.

Open Report

Opens a report in Print Preview.

Design Application

Opens the Switchboard Manager.

Exit Application

Closes the current database.

Run Macro

Runs a macro.

Run Code

Runs a Visual Basic function.

You can add buttons and embedded macros to start your database components, and then set the form to appear at startup. For information about how to build embedded macros, see the article Introduction to Macros. For information about how to create a form, see the article Introduction to forms.

Access your switchboard

Here is how you can access your newly created switchboard to test the accuracy of the commands, and the design elements.

  • In the Navigation Pane, double-click the form named Switchboard.

    If you don't like the title that Access has given to your switchboard, you can change the title.

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Edit items in a switchboard

You might have to edit items in a switchboard for several reasons such as, to change a command label or change how a command performs.

  1. Click Switchboard Manager on the Quick Access Toolbar.

  2. In the Switchboard Manager dialog box, select the switchboard you want to edit, and then click Edit.

  3. Click the item on the switchboard you want to change, and then do one of the following:

    • To change the text of the item, the command performed by the item, or the object that is opened or run when you click the item, click Edit.

    • To delete an item, click Delete.

    • To move the order in which an item appears, click Move Up or Move Down.

  4. When you finish editing your switchboard items, click Close.

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Delete a switchboard or switchboard item

You can delete an unwanted switchboard or a switchboard item with the Switchboard Manager. However, when you delete a switchboard, you will also be deleting all the items assigned to that switchboard.

  1. Click Switchboard Manager on the Quick Access Toolbar.

  2. In the Switchboard Manager dialog box, select the switchboard you want to delete, or that contains the item you want to delete.

  3. To delete the switchboard, go to step 6.

  4. To delete an item click Edit.

    The Edit Switchboard Page dialog box appears

  5. Select the items you want to delete.

  6. Click Delete.

  7. Click Close.

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Display the main switchboard on startup

You can change the Access settings to make the main switchboard appear automatically when someone opens your database.

  1. Click File > Options to open the Access Options dialog box.

  2. Click Current Database.

  3. Select Switchboard from the Display Form drop-down list.

  4. Click OK.

  5. Close the database and reopen it.

    The switchboard opens automatically.

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