Set a color property to a system color

In a database created using Microsoft Office Access 2003, most views, controls, and dialog boxes automatically inherit the Windows theme, if you are using Microsoft Windows XP SP 1, and the chosen theme is not Windows Classic. Exceptions are data access pages, reports, diagrams, SQL view of a query, and modules.

In addition to inheriting the Windows theme, Access also allows you to set the BackColor, BorderColor, and ForeColor properties in a form or report, or the BackgroundColor, BorderColor, and Color properties in a data access page to a system color. Setting color properties to match Windows system colors enables you to specify a single setting that can display different colors on different users' computers, depending on the colors they've chosen in Windows Control Panel.

  1. Open a form, report, or data access page in Design view (Design view: A view that shows the design of these database objects: tables, queries, forms, reports, and macros. In Design view, you can create new database objects and modify the design of existing objects.).
  2. Open the property sheet for the section (section: A part of a form, report, or data access page such as a header, footer, or detail section.) or control (control: A graphical user interface object, such as a text box, check box, scroll bar, or command button, that lets users control the program. You use controls to display data or choices, perform an action, or make the user interface easier to read.).
  3. In the property sheet, do one of the following:
    • In a form or report, click the BackColor, BorderColor, or ForeColor property.
    • In a data access page, click the BackgroundColor, BorderColor, or Color property.
  4. In the property box, type one of the numbers that are listed in the following table. For example, if you want the background of your form to display the same color that you or another user uses for the Windows background color, set the BackColor property to -2147483643, the value for Window.
Screen element Form or report Data access page
Scroll bar -2147483648 scrollbar
Desktop -2147483647 background
Active window title bar -2147483646 activecaption
Inactive window title bar -2147483645 inactivecaption
Menu bar -2147483644 menu
Window -2147483643 window
Window frame -2147483642 windowframe
Menu text -2147483641 menutext
Window text -2147483640 windowtext
Title bar text -2147483639 captiontext
Active window border -2147483638 activeborder
Inactive window border -2147483637 inactiveborder
Application background -2147483636 appworkspace
Highlight -2147483635 highlight
Highlight text -2147483634 highlighttext
3-D face -2147483633 buttonface
3-D shadow -2147483632 buttonshadow
Dimmed (disabled) text -2147483631 graytext
Button text -2147483630 buttontext
Inactive window title bar text -2147483629 inactivecaptiontext
3-D highlight -2147483628 buttonhighlight
3-D dark shadow -2147483627 threeddarkshadow
3-D light -2147483626 threedlightshadow
ToolTip text -2147483625 infotext
ToolTip background -2147483624 infobackground


  • The Windows system color value refers only to the color of the screen element listed, not to the type of object it can be assigned to. For example, you could set the BackColor property for a text box to the Windows system color for scroll bars, the desktop, or any other screen element.
  • The values for the Windows screen elements are always the same, regardless of the user's color settings.
Applies to:
Access 2003