Access 2013 Tour: The User Interface

Learn more about the 2013 Access ribbon

Man working on laptop

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When you switch to Microsoft Access 2013 from an earlier version, you're bound to notice some changes. If you've been using Access 2007 or Access 2010, the ribbon-based user interface looks similar, but it has received a facelift. If you're switching from an earlier version, you'll discover that the way you work with Access is now entirely different.

This product tour looks at the Access 2013 interface, including the ribbon, the navigation pane, and other features. Access 2013 is still in widespread use despite the release of Access 2016.

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Getting Started Page

Access 2013 screenshot

The Getting Started page provides a quick shortcut to the features of Access 2013.

The most notable feature on this page is the prominent set of dynamic links to Microsoft's Access database templates. These are updated automatically through Office Online and offer the ability to begin your database design with a predefined template rather than starting from a blank database.

Examples include databases for asset tracking, project management, sales, tasks, contacts, issues, events, and students. Selecting any of these templates initiates an automatic download process that concludes by opening the database for you.

You'll find other resources on the Getting Started page as well. From this page, you can create a new blank database, open recent databases or read content from Microsoft Office Online.

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The Ribbon

Screenshot showing the Ribbon in Access 2013

The ribbon, which was introduced in Office 2007, is the biggest change for users of earlier versions of Access. It replaces the familiar drop-down menus and toolbars with a context-sensitive interface that provides quick access to relevant commands.

If you're a keyboard jockey who memorized command sequences, rest easy. Access 2013 supports the shortcuts from earlier versions of Access.

Access 2010 users find that the ribbon received a facelift in Access 2013 with a smoother, cleaner look that uses space more efficiently.

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The File Tab

Screenshot of File tab in Access 2013

Fans of the old File menu have something to celebrate in Access 2013 because it's back. The Microsoft Office button is gone and has been replaced with a File tab on the ribbon. When you select this tab, a window appears down the left side of the screen with many of the functions previously found on the File menu.

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Command Tabs

Screenshot of the Create tab in Access 2013

The command tabs help you navigate through the ribbon by choosing the high-level task that you want to perform. For example, the ribbon shown here has the Create command tab selected. The Home, External Data, and Database Tools command tabs always appear at the top of the ribbon. You'll also see context-sensitive tabs.

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Quick Access Toolbar

Screenshot showing Quick Access Toolbar in Access 2013

The Quick Access Toolbar appears at the top of the Access window and provides one-click shortcuts to commonly used functions. You can customize the contents of the toolbar by clicking the arrow icon immediately to the right of the toolbar.

By default, the Quick Access Toolbar contains buttons for Save, Undo, and Redo. You can customize the toolbar by adding icons for New, Open, E-mail, Print, Print Preview, Spelling, Mode, Refresh All and other functions.

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Navigation Pane

Screenshot showing navigation pane in Access 2013

The Navigation Pane provides access to all the objects in your database. You can customize the contents of the Navigation Pane using the expandable/collapsible sub-panes.

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Tabbed Documents

Screenshot of tabs in Access 2013

Access 2013 incorporates the tabbed document browsing feature found in Web browsers. Access provides tabs that represent each of the open database objects. You can quickly switch between open objects by clicking on the corresponding tab.