We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

How to keep an Access form visible but in the background

Ben Tolsky
Ben Tolsky asked
So I’m upgrading my company’s software from Access 2003 to 2016. Programmatically everything is working fine. The only issue is that we will go blind staring at the bright white background that can not be changed in 2016.

So I created a new form with a dark gray background that fills the screen, does nothing, and will solve all our problems. Only problem, if you click on this form in the background it comes to the foreground and covers up the functional forms or reports that we need to use.  I don't want to make other forms pop ups because I want to be able to have multiple forms open at the same time and go back an forth between them,

Is there some way of always keeping this form in the background, or making the entire form locked so that it can’t be clicked on? Or does anyone have any other solution to the bright white background that doesn’t require wearing sunglasses all day long? I don’t mind if the screen flickers for a second if it has to cycle thru all the open forms, I just need a solution.
Watch Question

Most Valuable Expert 2015
Distinguished Expert 2018
You could maximize a form as the background, and then use popup forms throughout.

Or switch to the tabbed form view in general.

Thank you Gustav.  Pop up forms aren't really an option for me as I need to be able to switch between forms.  The tabbed view is interesting, I didn't know that option existed.  While it does solve the problem, it doesn't allow me to view to forms side by side which isn't critical but is something that we often like to do.

I actually discovered this solution, http://access.mvps.org/access/api/api0035.htm

I really have no idea what an API is or how this works, but it does work.  I'm just not sure if code like this could potentially lead to problems, but my application seems to be running just fine with this code, and I just created a solid gray bmp file to use as the background.
Most Valuable Expert 2015
Distinguished Expert 2018

Great! I believe that code to work as advertised.

Jim Dettman (EE MVE)President / Owner
Fellow 2019
Most Valuable Expert 2017

This worked in A2016?   I was under the impression that it died starting with A2007.

  This is when Microsoft introduced the Office Themes and changed all the Access classes.

 I played around with it for a bit trying to port it, but I could not get it to work and and never got back to it.



It is working.  It has a few quirks such as when you close a form you wind up with a white box where the form used to be.  That box then goes away when you drag another form.  In fact, it seems like dragging forms is what makes the background refresh but occasionally you may see a little white next to a form in the direction it was dragged (perhaps it only refreshes at certain intervals).  It may not be perfect, but certainly it is something we could live with, and so far it is our best option for moving forward.

I don't know if you can change backgrounds, I didn't use that part of the code with the button.  I actually embedded the code into a different form that I load on startup and runs in the background.

The only serious issue I had was when I went to edit that form as it was already open when I went to design view.  Upon saving the changes I closed it in design view, then I reopened it again which appeared to send it into an infinite loop that was so bad I couldn't even get ctrl-alt-delete to work!  I wound up having to do a hard reset of the computer.