I have been given an Access 2007 application (mainly VB code) that I need to modify. It has been locked down for production, so the toolbars and so forth are not visible. However, it is a .mdb file, not .mde, so in theory it should be possible to get into design mode by holding Shift while opening it.

But that method has only worked a total of three times out of the (probably) 60 or 70 times I've tried. I realize now that I should have enabled the toolbars while I had it open, but unfortunately hindsight doesn't get me anywhere now. Does anyone know what might be causing the problem? Is it my own fault, or the application's, or Access's?

  • Are you getting some sort of security warning when you open it? The shift key has to be held down when clicking on the security warning.
    – emgee
    Nov 5, 2009 at 23:35
  • No, no security warning. The weird thing is that one day it just started working, and it's worked every day since then except for once. I still have no idea why.
    – mmyers
    Nov 10, 2009 at 17:11

4 Answers 4


F11 may open the design view inside Access, depending on security settings. Give that a bash.

  • No good; apparently the authors thought of that too.
    – mmyers
    Oct 15, 2009 at 13:54

If you have not changed the code, and shift has worked for you before, it should work again. It is important to keep the shift key held down until the application has fully opened.

  • 1
    The key word here being "should"...
    – mmyers
    Dec 2, 2009 at 17:32
  • Well, Access is not randomly deciding to open or not. There's is something going on that you're not accounting for. Some keyboards, for instance, distinguish the right and left shift keys (they do have distinct scan codes), though for Access's purposes, they shouldn't. Try the other shift key. Dec 3, 2009 at 4:44
  • I did, and also Ctrl and Alt and any other combination I could think of. I'm thinking something in the database occasionally corrupts; it seems to fail only after a coding session in which I halted the code at least once instead of allowing it to finish.
    – mmyers
    Dec 3, 2009 at 20:20
  • 1
    "Keep the shift key held down until the application has fully opened" was the trick for me. Jun 10, 2015 at 19:41

There is this special 'AllowBypassKey' Property that can be turned on/off on a mdb file. When on, pressing the 'shift' key allows you to enter design vue when launching the file. Once it has been turned off, you can stil manipulate the value by opening a blank access database and write some vba code that will open the initial database, change the property, and close it.

Another solution would be to create an empty database and make a global import of everything available in the first file. On this new database, 'AllowBypassKey' will be by default set to True


Sticky Keys are enabled by pressing the Shift key five times in a row on Windows XP or newer. This can be disabled by going to Control Panel. I don't know if this could cause a conflict with it or not.

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