Access Keys: Design Guidelines 

Access keys are a comprehensive means of navigating the entire UI.

  • Assign access keys to all interactive controls that have text labels. Such controls include:
    • Read-only text boxes from which users might want to copy text.
    • Static text fields for which the size of the value might exceed the size of the field (so that keyboard users can view the entire value).
    The following controls take no label and therefore no access key: toolbar buttons, spin box buttons, split bars, and tree view controls.
    Exceptions: Do not assign access keys to the OK, Finish, Cancel, or Help command buttons. OK and Finish are assigned to the ENTER key, Cancel is assigned to ESC, and Help is assigned to F1.
    The command buttons OK and Cancel do not take access keys.
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  • Do not make access keys case-sensitive.
  • When an access key is pressed, move the input focus to the associated control, not to the label that contains the access key.
  • When assigning access keys, combine the ALT key and an alphanumeric key. Do not use CTRL or SHIFT combinations, as those are reserved for shortcut keys.
  • On any surface for which a default action is defined for the ENTER key, there must be a corresponding command button shown with focus.

See Also