First Published 6 Apr 2023                 Last Updated 13 Jun 2023

This short article describes a long term issue affecting all versions of Access (prior to Access 365 version 2305).
It has now been fixed for version 2305. See UPDATE section below

The issue has been mentioned periodically in Access forums for many years. For example: VBA Breakpoints don't work anymore (from 2011)

One of the standard Access current database options is the use of 'special keys'. By default, these are enabled:

When the Use Access Special Keys option is selected, users can apply the following keyboard shortcuts in the current database:

Keys Result
F11 Shows / hides the Navigation Pane.
CTRL+G Shows the Immediate window in the Visual Basic Editor.
ALT+F11 Starts the Visual Basic Editor.
CTRL+BREAK Stops running code by preventing Access from retrieving records from the server.

For details of all Access options available for the current database, see the Microsoft article: Set user options for the current database

All of these keys perform an important role for Access developers and are usually left enabled.
However, before deploying databases for production, the special keys option is often unticked by developers to reduce the potential for problems caused by end users

Problems can occur if special keys are disabled during development work
For example, unticking Allow special keys prevents the use of Ctrl+Break to stop code. This is intentional.

However it has the unintended side effect of preventing breakpoints and the use of Stop from pausing execution.
This means you cannot debug code for problems with the special keys option unticked

To test this, add one or more breakpoints in your code and/or add the line Stop e.g. as below

Run the code with special keys enabled. It will pause at each breakpoint and the Stop line

Now untick Allow special keys and run the code again. It will run without any of the breakpoints being actioned.

The issue was reported to the Access team in February 2023 and was fixed for Access 365 in May 2023.

NOTE: This issue is one of the items included in the Access Bugs – The Long List 2023/1 article at the Access Forever blog site

As stated above, all Access versions were affected.

UPDATE 13 June 2023
The issue with breakpoints and special keys was fixed in version 2305 (build 16501.20196) released on 1 June 2023.
For more details, see Access Releases 14 Issue Fixes in Version 2305 (Released June 1st, 2023)

NOTE: Older versions are still affected by the bug. Unfortunately, there is no workaround


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Colin Riddington           Mendip Data Systems                 Last Updated 13 Jun 2023

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