Microsoft Access 2002 – Emulate Vista Dimming / Attention Focus

UPDATE 29 June 2007: You must extract the MDB from the zip for it to work (!). It will not work on a read-only database.


While I have no intention of upgrading to Vista at this time I did note an interesting user interface paradigm that helps call undivided attention to a message box by fading every other element of the screen.


Having recently developed an application with an extensive help system that none of the users ever read, I wondered whether I could use this to force users to give at least a tiny bit more attention to short “Did you know?”-esque tips.

To that end, I wrote a form called “frmDimmer” that fades the entire working area of your Microsoft Access application and allows a PopUp form to appear above it. You can download a zip containing an MDB example.

Continue reading “Microsoft Access 2002 – Emulate Vista Dimming / Attention Focus”

Microsoft Access 2002 – Emulate hyperlink cursor change

I’m still using Microsoft Access 2002 and thought I’d share this little tip. You know how in web browsers hyperlinks are underlined in blue and your cursor changes to a little hand when you move over them?

Using a slightly bizarre but agreeable undocumented feature you can emulate the cursor change in Microsoft Access 2002.

Now you’d think that you would be able to use the Screen.MousePointer function. However, that doesn’t provide access to the hyperlink hand. Also, brilliantly, if you attempt to replicate this using the built-in Screen.MousePointer function (using “=Screen.MousePointer(11)” in the MouseMove event), you can corrupt your database and crash Microsoft Access! WOW! Now that’s what I call an undocumented feature. You would also think that you could instead place the Screen.MousePointer command in an Event Procedure on the MouseMove event but that simply changes the cursor to a hand until you change it back in code somewhere else.

Example of how to use

This is really simple and works beautifully.

  • Create a module called “Cursor” and paste the code below into it.
  • Create a form and place a label in the middle.
  • Type any caption for the label. Set the label ForeColor to blue and turn FontUnderline on.
  • Set the MouseMove event to “=UseHand()”
  • Save and switch to form view. Move your cursor around the form.

Notice how when you move over the label the cursor changes to a hand and, here’s the undocumented feature aspect, when you move away from the label, it changes back to the normal cursor without any VBA assistance!

In real life

I’ve been using this technique instead of command buttons for buttons that would open a new page or a new form. It really makes your screen feel much less cluttered and provides a user interface that is now much more familiar (web browsers) to users than buttons.

Brilliantly, this also works in continuous forms without any adjustments.

Microsoft Access 2002 - Cursor.UseHand() screenshot

This is a screenshot showing a continuous form on the upper right with a single form on the lower right (that is linked to the continuous)hosted in a single form. There are hyperlink controls on the host form (Products, People, etc), a hyperlink control on the single linked form and on the continuous form. The cursor changes to a hand over all the blue underlined labels and back again everywhere else. Imagine how cluttered this would appear with command buttons. Click the screenshot for the full view.

Cursor Module

Option Compare Database
Option Explicit
' Control the look of the cursor
' Replacement for Screen.MousePointer function
' _____________________________________________________________________________
' Standard cursor IDs
Public Enum SystemCursorID
  IDC_arrow = 32512&
  IDC_IBEAM = 32513&
  IDC_WAIT = 32514&
  IDC_CROSS = 32515&
  IDC_UPARROW = 32516&
  IDC_SIZENWSE = 32642&
  IDC_SIZENESW = 32643&
  IDC_SIZEWE = 32644&
  IDC_SIZENS = 32645&
  IDC_SIZEALL = 32646&
  IDC_NO = 32648& ' not in win3.1
  IDC_HAND = 32649&
  IDC_APPSTARTING = 32650& ' not in win3.1
  IDC_HELP = 32651&
End Enum
' _____________________________________________________________________________
Private Type POINT ' declared here because a point is a rectangle of 1 unit width and eight
  X As Long
  Y As Long
End Type
Private Type RECT
  Left As Long
  Top As Long
  Right As Long
  Bottom As Long
End Type
' _____________________________________________________________________________
Private Declare Function LoadCursor Lib "user32" Alias "LoadCursorA" ( _
                         ByVal hInstance As Long, _
                         ByVal pCursorName As Long) As Long
Private Declare Function ShowCursor Lib "user32" ( _
                         ByVal bShow As Long) As Long
Private Declare Function SetCursorPos Lib "user32" ( _
                         ByVal X As Long, _
                         ByVal Y As Long) As Long
Private Declare Function SetCursor Lib "user32" ( _
                         ByVal hCursor As Long) As Long
Private Declare Function GetCursorPos Lib "user32" ( _
                         lpPoint As POINT) As Long
Private Declare Function ClipCursor Lib "user32" ( _
                         lpRect As Any) As Long
Private Declare Function GetCursor Lib "user32" () As Long
Private Declare Function GetClipCursor Lib "user32" ( _
                         lprc As RECT) As Long

' _____________________________________________________________________________
Dim hLastCursor As Long

''' Changes cursors to a hand, normally used to indicate the item below the cursor
''' is a link that can be followed.
''' Example
''' Call in the OnMouseMove Event (instead of calling an [Event Procedure]) of a label
''' to change the cursor to a hand. Doing it this way seems to reset the cursor back to
''' default when you move out of the control's area. Miraculous!
Public Function UseHand()
  Cursor.UseSystemCursor IDC_HAND
  End Function

' Sets the cursor to a system shape
' _____________________________________________________________________________
Public Function UseSystemCursor(CursorID As SystemCursorID)

  ' Load new cursor and, if successful, set
  hLastCursor = LoadCursor(0, CLng(CursorID))
  If (hLastCursor > 0) Then
    hLastCursor = SetCursor(hLastCursor)
  End If

  End Function

' Undoes the last cursor change
' _____________________________________________________________________________
Public Sub RestoreCursor()

  If hLastCursor > 0 Then
    SetCursor hLastCursor
    hLastCursor = 0
  End If
  End Sub

In later versions of Access and if you are using a control with the Hyperlink Address property, you no longer need this workaround. Simply put a single space in the HyperlinkAddress property. Oddly, it uses a different hand to the system-wide hand cursor. Everywhere you go with Access, you keep running into undocumented features!