Get the look you want every time by replacing the default Access form with your own template


by Christine Spencer

Application: Microsoft Access 2000/2002/2003/2016

Operating System: Microsoft Windows

Sometimes, you’ll design an attractive form in Access that you’ll want to use over and over again, but re-creating that form from scratch every time would be a tedious chore. You can save yourself time and effort by setting your custom form as a default.

To help spare you the boredom of re-designing a custom form whenever you want to use it, we’ll:

  • Create a form template with unique properties.
  • Change the default properties for a tool in the Toolbox.
  • Set a custom form as the default form.

Once you've put in time and effort designing an attractive form, you don’t want to have to repeat all of that work just to create a similar form. For instance, suppose you’re creating several forms for a certain department and they want their forms to have the same look and feel to distinguish them from other company forms. To save yourself some work, you can create one general form and specify that as your default form. In a form template, you can save form properties, such as size or background color, so all of your forms start out with the same settings.

Store common form properties in your own template

The Access default form template determines a new form's characteristics, but it isn’t always the most effective starting point for your work. To make your form design process move along faster, create your own template. Creating a new form template involves two steps – you create a form with the basic settings and then tell Access to use this form as the default template. Using a blank database, we’ll create a new form and walk you through some modifications.

To create the new form template:

  1. Launch Access and create a new blank database.
  2. When prompted for a database name, enter My Forms in the File Name text box and click Create.
  3. When the Database window opens, display the form objects by clicking Forms in the Objects pane.
  4. Double-click on Create Form In Design View in the Database window. (In 2016, click on the Create tab, and in the Forms area, click on Form Design.) When you do, a blank form opens. We’ll use this form to create our template.


When creating the form template, keep in mind that only overall form properties are carried over, such as the form background color or the width. Controls or shapes that you add to the form, such as a title box or a graphic, won’t be saved with the template. However, the default properties for controls are carried over. Also, note that changing the default form template doesn't have any effect on existing forms in the database.

Changing the form color

The first thing we’ll do is change the form’s overall color. By default, it’s a plain gray.

To create a custom color for your form:

  1. Right-click in the center of the form and then choose Properties from the shortcut menu. The Property sheets display the properties for the Detail section of the form.
  2. Click on the Format tab and then click in the Back Color property text box.
  3. Click the Build button build to the right of this text box to open the Color dialog box (in 2016, you must click More Colors to open this dialog box). In this dialog box, select a color swatch and then click Define Custom Colors (click on the Custom tab in 2016). When you do, the Color dialog box expands.
  4. Drag the slider at the far right of the dialog box to change the lightness or darkness of the selected color, as shown in Figure A. The Color/Solid box shows you the color that you’ve selected.
  5. To change the shade of the color, drag the pointer in the Color Matrix box (to the left of the slider) and then use the slider to further adjust the color.
  6. To make this color available later for other form items, add it to the Custom Colors list by clicking Add To Custom Colors. (In 2016, you can add the color to a Theme by clicking Colors in the Themes area of the Form Design Tools Design contextual tab.)
  7. Now, click OK to close the Color dialog box. Press [Tab] to move the insertion point out of the Back Color text box. When you do, the form changes to the color you selected. Leave the Property Sheets open.




The slider enables you to lighten or darken the selected color.

Note: When defining a custom color in the Color dialog box, you can also manually enter the Hue, Sat, or Lum or the Red, Green, and Blue values. This comes in handy when you want to match a color exactly.

Adjusting other form properties

There are other properties you might want to change that affect the entire form, such as whether the scroll bars appear when the form is resized.

To display the form’s overall properties:

  1. To do this with the Property sheets still displayed, click on the Form selector in the form (the square between the horizontal and vertical rulers). When you do, the title bar of the Property sheets displays the text Form and all of the properties r[...]
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