Set the tab order for controls

When you use a form, you can switch between controls by pressing the TAB key. You can specify the order in which the controls on a form respond to the TAB key. On a well-designed form, the controls respond to the TAB key in a logical order — for example, from top to bottom and from left to right — so that the form is easier to use.

This article describes how to change the tab order, how to remove a control from the tab order, and how to change the tab behavior for the last field in a form.

 Notes 

  • This article does not apply to Access Web applications. In Web applications, the tab order is set automatically and cannot be changed. For more information about Web applications, see the article Build a database to share on the Web.
  • This article focuses on forms, but you can use these procedures to set the tab order for controls on reports as well. When you open a report in Report view, you can use the TAB key to move the focus from control to control.
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Change the tab order for controls

When you use tools such as wizards or layouts to create a form, Access sets the tab order to the same order that the controls appear on the form: top to bottom and left to right. However, if you create or modify a form without using a wizard or a layout, you might create a tab order that does not correspond to the location of the controls on the form. Use the following procedure to change the tab order of the controls.

  1. In the Navigation Pane, right-click the form and then click Design View.
  2. On the Design tab, in the Tools group, click Tab Order.
  3. In the Tab Order dialog box, under Section, click the section you want to change.
  4. Do one of the following:
    • If you want Access to create a top-to-bottom and left-to-right tab order, click Auto Order.
    • If you want to create your own custom tab order, click the selector for the control you want to move. (Click and drag to select more than one control at a time.) Click the selector again and drag the control to the desired location in the list.
  5. Click OK.

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Remove a control from the tab order

  1. In the Navigation Pane, right-click the form and then click Design View.
  2. If the Property Sheet task pane is not displayed, press F4 to display it.
  3. Select the control that you want to remove from the tab order.
  4. On the Other tab of the Property Sheet, in the Tab Stop property box, click No.

 Note   If you remove a control from the tab order, you can still click the control to select it as long as its Enabled property is set to Yes.

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Change the tab behavior for the last field in the tab order

By default, when you press the TAB key while the cursor is in the last field in the tab order, Access displays the next record in the data source, and moves the cursor to the first field of the tab order. You can change this behavior so that Access stays on the current record. If the form contains page breaks, you can also change the behavior so that Access does not move the cursor to the next page. This is helpful if you want to restrict the user from editing more than one record (or page) at a time.

  1. In the Navigation Pane, right-click the form and then click Design View.
  2. If the Property Sheet task pane is not displayed, press F4 to display it.
  3. Select Form from the drop-down list at the top of the Property Sheet.
  4. On the Other tab of the Property Sheet, in the Cycle property box, select one of the following options.
Setting Description
All Records When you press TAB in the last field in the record, the focus moves to the first field in the next record.
Current Record When you press TAB in the last field in the record, the focus moves back to the first field in the current record.
Current Page

When you press TAB in the last field in the form page, the focus moves back to the first field in the current page.

 Note   You can divide a form into pages by using the Page Break control. This control is available in Design View, in the Controls group of the Design tab. If the form does not contain any page breaks, the Current Page option behaves in the same way as the Current Record option.

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Applies to:
Access 2010