Where Help Searches
Access 2002 searches the offline Help files that are on
your own computer. In the Answer Wizard results, you may find links that start with WEB:,
which lead to online articles. Access will apparently know only about those articles
that were available when your software was written.
Search task pane returns no results or files instead of Help articles:
You cannot use this pane to look for Help articles. The Basic Search
task pane does not search Help files. You should open the Help dialog or
Office Assistant instead. |
In Access 2003, the default location for all Search methods is Microsoft Office
At the bottom of the Search Results task pane, you can change to search Offline Help,
which are the Help files on your own computer, or you can restrict your
search to one of the
special sections of Microsoft Office Online.
Clip Art and Media opens a page at Microsoft Office Online in a separate
There you can search the web site for free,
downloadable clip art, photos, animations, and sounds.
Choosing to search only offline can be much faster. But,
online articles are revised to include new information, so your
offline copies may be out-of-date.
How to tell when online results are included:
Appears in the Search pane when Access is connecting to
Microsoft Office Online.
Results number line:
At the top of the pane, the line that
shows the number of results will say "from Office Online".
- Online article icon
In the Search Results, articles that are found only online have the icon
of a page with a circled question mark.
Point of Confusion: The online version of an article that
is also available offline uses the offline icon
just like the offline articles do. There may be differences between the
- Feedback Buttons:
Online articles have at the bottom a set of feedback buttons and links to
Contact Us and the Privacy
How to tell that only offline results are included:
to online: At the top of the Search Results pane, you will see
a pale yellow bar offering a link to Microsoft Office Online.
Results number line:
Just the number with no location mentioned.
Office Assistant first appeared in Office 97. It is supposed to be an
entertaining way to get help for Microsoft Office programs. Some people
love it; some people hate it.
Office Assistant is an animated figure with a balloon for messages and
searches. The default character is Clippit, an animated paper clip. There
are a number of other animations available, called actors.
In Office 2003 the Office Assistant is off
by default. In previous versions it was on by default. There is one
advantage to having the Office Assistant turned on. As you work, a light
bulb appears over the assistant when there is a tip about what you are
doing. This can be quite helpful when you are first learning the
Step-by-Step: Using Help
What you will learn:
|to use the Type a question for help box|
to use Help's table of contents
to open a Help topic
to manage the Office Assistant
to use the Office Assistant
Access open but no database
Access comes with many Help topics.
Access 2003 allows you to choose where you search for help information - offline only or
including online materials from Microsoft Online. Microsoft Online has
updated versions of the offline topics, plus more articles, including
your Help question brings up a list from the general Microsoft Office
Help instead of Access Help. You may have to close Access and reopen it
to get to the correct Help files.
Help: Type a question for help
While you can write a full question in the Type a
question for help box, you may not need to do so. Typing only the main words may work
just fine. 2 to 7 words should work best. If you do not see a topic that
seems to fit, then try a more complete sentence.
keyboard shortcuts in the Type a question
for help box at the top right of your Access window.
- Press the ENTER key.
There is no button to click.
A drop list of Help topics appears.
The Search Results task pane shows a list of Help topics.
Open a Help Topic
on Keyboard Shortcuts in the list.
The topic opens in a new window. The items with a right pointing
are collapsed lists themselves. When a list is open, the arrow points
.The lists are somewhat different in different versions.
A Help window in two panes.
A Help window with one pane.
Note: Access 2003 results include a link for
Office keyboard shortcuts. This leads to a web page where you can
choose which program you want shortcuts for.
on Global Access shortcut keys
The list expands and the arrow at the left of the link now points down
indicates an expanded list.
- From the new list, click on
There are three shortcut key combinations listed, which work from inside Access.
Oddly, one is for quitting Access instead of for opening a database.
Would you think to look here for that key combo??
- Click on
Opening databases again. The list collapses and the arrow points
to the right.
- Click on Global Access shortcut keys
to collapse that list.
Experiment with collapsing and expanding the various lists. Look for
shortcuts similar to ones you already know from other Office programs.
As you work with Access, you will find it helpful to learn the shortcut key
combos for actions that you perform often.
There are far too many key combos to expect to learn them all!
Help: Browse the Table of Contents
When you want to learn about a general topic, browsing through the
Table of Contents can be educational. Access 2002 and 2003 have slightly
different lists of topics.
- To find a the table of contents list:
the Help dialog open, if
necessary, click on the Contents tab to show the Table of Contents of
A set of collapsed lists of topics shows.
Click on the arrow at the right at the top of the Search Results
pane that is still open. Select . Then
click on the
Table of Contents link. The list of topics opens in the
- Click on a topic and then on a subtopic to expand the list until you get to
Access 2002 Icons:
Access 2003 Icons:
- Click on an article and read it.
2002: The article open in the right-hand pane.
Access 2003: The article opens in a new window.
Access 2003 Help: Search Online
Access 2003, at the bottom of the Search Results pane is a Search
section. You can select customize your search by selecting where to
search and what kind of item to look for, as well as entering the words
to search for.
on the arrow to open the drop list in the Search section at the
bottom of the Search Results task pane. A list of locations and types of
- If necessary, select the location Microsoft Office Online.
Change the search words to table fields
and click the green button
to search again.
At the top of the pane you see the number of articles in the results and
what location was searched.
Scroll the list. Notice what
articles are listed and their icons.
Cannot access Microsoft
Office Online: You must be connected to the Internet to search
Click on the
About tables. A new window opens with 2 links.
- Click on the
link About tables (MDB). MDB stands for
window changes to show a definition of a table and some links that open
collapsed sections of the page.
- Click on the links and read the articles.
Collapsing the links keeps the page tidy, but it is a bit confusing when some links
open a new page and some open a hidden part of the same page.
Blue words inside the text are a link that opens a definition in green right on the
page. Everything else moves out of the way. Surprising the first time it
happens! You can click the blue words again to hide the definition.
Expand and collapse the different sections of this
page. Notice that the last link, Table Datasheet
view, opens yet another set of links, bordered in red in
the illustration, but NOT in real life.
you seen it all?
When you are expanding and collapsing the parts of the page, it is
easy to lose track of which sections you have read and which you have
The down arrow
shows which lists are currently expanded.
the Show All link at the top of the page
will expand all sections of the page, including the definitions. The
link changes to
Hide All. Clicking on
Hide All collapses all sections of the page.
- Close the window and return to the Access window, which
still shows the Search Results pane.
Click on the gray link Help > Similarities
between Access Databases and Projects below
The Table of Contents opens to a section that contains the link
About tables. This particular section would probably not jump out at you as
the place to look for basic information on tables! But now that you have
found it, there are many useful topics in view.
Happily, the table of contents is not like that of a book. A link can
appear in many different places in the list. You can use logic to find
most information and Search to find the rest.
- Compare: Change your search words to and do a search of
Offline Help and then, with the same search words, search Microsoft Office Online. Did you get
different results? Did the online search take more time? A noticeable
amount? Were the extra results worth the wait?
Help: Manage the Office Assistant
From the menu choose .
- Click on , the second item in the menu. The animated Office
Assistant appears on your screen.
If the second item is , then the Assistant is already showing on your
screen somewhere. It may not be the default paper clip.
If the second item is grayed out, open the Help dialog
or task pane by
clicking on the first item in the menu, close it, and then
look at the menu again.
Click on the Office Assistant actor. A dialog bubble
- Click on Options at the bottom left of the bubble. A
dialog for managing the Office Assistant appears.
necessary, click on the Gallery tab. If the Next
button is in black text, you have other actors to choose from. If you
click on the OK button, the Office Assistant will change to use the
actor currently showing.
on the Options tab.
On this tab you can change how the Office Assistant behaves and what
kind of tips you want it to show you.
To turn off the Office Assistant completely, you would
uncheck the box for
Use the Office Assistant. Leave it on for right now.
As long as the box is checked, even when you choose Hide the Office
Assistant from the Help menu, the Office Assistant will reappear when
you try to access Help again. You must turn it off in this dialog when
you do not want to see it at all.
- Click on OK to close the dialog.
Help: Use the Office Assistant
Sometimes you need to find how exactly how many characters Access will
allow for an object's name, or exactly how many fields a table can have
or some other limitation about Access. The keyword to use for your search
the Office Assistant text box, type
A list of topics appears.
2002: List is in the bubble. At the bottom there is a link to more
topics than can be displayed in the bubble.
Access 2003: List is in the Search Results task pane.
- Click on the topic Access specifications
at the top of the list.
2002: The Help dialog appears with page of collapsed sections in the
Access 2003: A Help window opens with a page of collapsed sections.
Search Results task pane
- Find the answers to the following from the specifications in
this Help article:
- How many characters in a table name?
- How many characters in a field name?
- How many fields in a table?
If you wish, you can turn off the Office Assistant now. (Display the
Office Assistant, Options, uncheck
Use the Office Assistant)