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10 things that are [still] broken in Access 2007... and maybe in 2010

In Access 2007, some things just don't work -- and a few problems appear to be persisting in the 2010 Technical Preview.

In Access 2007, some things just don't work — and a few problems appear to be persisting in the 2010 Technical Preview.


If you've made the switch to Access 2007, you know that a number of things don't work as you expect. In fact, a few things don't work at all. Although there are too many issues to list here, we'll look at some of the problems that might be troublesome to most users at some time or another — and we'll note where things may remain problematic in Access 2010.

Note: This is an update to an article that originally appeared in June 2008. It's also available as a PDF download.

1: Access 2007 loses printer specification

Access associates reports with the default printer when you create it. However, you can save a non-default printer to a report via the Page Setup dialog box. Unfortunately, Access 2007 loses that setting and sends the report to the default printer. Interestingly, if the non-default printer was set using a previous version, it still works. Download and install the hotfix.

2: Where oh where has my Spell Check gone?

The decision to make Spell Check invisible probably annoys me more than any other change. Spell Check isn't exactly broken — it's just hard to find. If you want to go to the trouble of working through the Ribbon, click the Home tab and choose Spelling from the Records group. (What a pain!) It's still there in Access 2010's most recent Technical Preview. But even after you do find it, it isn't always available. At least you can still press F7 to check spelling. Or you might want to add Spell Check to the Quick Access toolbar to keep it handy:

  1. Click the Office button, click Access Options (at the bottom right), and choose Customize. In Office 2010, click the Office tab, click Options under the Access item in the left pane, and then select Quick Access Toolbar in the left pane.
  2. Select popular Commands from the Choose Commands from list.
  3. Scroll down and select Spelling, as shown in Figure A.
  4. Click Add and click OK.

Now the Spell Check feature is readily available via the Quick Access Toolbar, shown in Figure B.

Figure A

Figure B

Even with the feature accessible, it won't work all the time. If you save and close an object, Spell Check is often available when you reopen the object. That shouldn't be necessary, but I've run into it several times.

3: Some shortcut menus are broken

Subform shortcut menus, also known as context menus, don't work in Access 2007. In earlier versions, a right-click displays a context-sensitive menu. Download and install the hotfix to get subform shortcut menus back. Shortcut menus seem to be working fine in Access 2010 subforms.

4: There's no more single-click browsing

Now here's one that's sure to confuse most users. In earlier versions, you could hold down the Previous and Next navigation buttons in a form's Navigation toolbar to quickly cycle through all the records. This behavior is similar to clicking the First or Last button, but you can actually see Access cycling through the records. This behavior is totally gone in Access 2007 and there's no fix for it. It's just gone — and for good it seems. It hasn't reappeared with any updates.

5: Date Picker enabled, despite setting

Access 2007 automatically adds the Date Picker to Date/Time controls, making it easier for users to enter and change date values. In Design view, you can set the Date/Time field's Show Date Picker property to No to inhibit this enhancement. In other words, if you set this property to No, none of the inheriting objects will display the Date Picker — except it doesn't work consistently. Specifically, queries still show the Date Picker. There's no fix for it, and my guess is that it will stay broken, since the problem is still with us after more than a year of updates and fixes. .It persists in Access 2010 Technical Preview as well.

6: When is old new?

When you edit a value, that control's OldValue property equals the control's previous value until you save the record. In other words, OldValue equals the value that Access restores if you undo a change (by pressing Ctrl + Z or choosing Undo from the Edit menu).

Access 2007's combo box control has a bug in this area: A bound combo's OldValue property will return the current value and not the old value when the combo is bound to 2007's new multivalue field.

This bug is going to be a serious problem if you need this functionality. As far as I know, there's no fix. My best advice is to capture the current value as a static variable instead of using OldValue.

7: Rich text is unavailable in subforms

Microsoft has added rich text capability to 2007 text controls — sometimes. Okay, the truth is, the capability is there, but you might not know how to put it to work because the Format tab is unavailable in Form View. However, you can use the tools in the Font group — sometimes. This group is disabled for subforms. What all that means is you can't assign formats to a rich text control in a subform using a tool or menu. You can, however, highlight the text and use keyboard shortcuts, such as Ctrl + B for bold and Ctrl + U for underscore. Since this is more a result of tool placement and not an actual bug, I doubt Microsoft will fix it.

8: Memo fields are flaky

Memo fields have always been a bit buggy if you did anything besides enter lots of characters. 2007 memo fields have two problems:

  • If you change the Append Only property to No, Access 2007 wipes out the column's history. Don't expect a fix for this because this is by design and not a bug, according to Microsoft.
  • Running a query that contains a GROUP BY clause on a Memo field against a list in Windows SharePoint Services may corrupt the data in the Memo field. For now, Microsoft suggests you use a Text field instead of a Memo field, which doesn't really help if you actually need a Memo field. And if you don't need a Memo field, why would you be using one?

9: It just doesn't add up!

For several versions, you've been able to add fields in Datasheet view. In Access 2007 (and Access 2010 Technical Preview), a new table created in this manner comes complete with an ID field, and as you add fields to the new table, Access increments the first ID value by 1. Surprise! For instance, if you add three fields before you save the table, the ID value is 3, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

There are three simple workarounds:

  • Add a second row before you add fields to the table.
  • Save the table before you add a field to the table.
  • Avoid creating tables in Datasheet view (the best solution).

10: Layout view crashes Access 2007

If you change a control's Control Source property in Layout view, Access 2007 may close unexpectedly (crash!). You may or may not get one of the following error messages, and neither really helps:

  • Microsoft Office Access has stopped working.
  • Microsoft Office Access has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

For now, the simplest workaround is to change the Control Source property in Design view.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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