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Input Masks are a field property that automatically formats phone numbers, social security numbers, zip codes and other data so that all you have to do is enter in the numbers and the punctuation will take care of itself. Let's go over to our SalesReps table, right-click on it and open it in Design View. Go down to the HomePhone field, and in the Field Properties at the bottom, find Input Mask and click on that line. On the right hand side, you will see a Build button, the top option is Phone Number.
We will click Next. Here is what the Input Mask will look like. Right now, the Placeholder character showing you at a type; is an underscore, which works well because it looks like an underline. But if you like it to be in number sign or other symbol, you can change it. I will click Next. Now, it asks me how I want to store the data. I want to store it with the symbols in the mask with the parentheses and the spaces and the dashes. That way, it will be formatted in my reports. I could also save it without the punctuation. I will click Next and Finish and there is my Input Mask.
Let's do the same thing for CellPhone. I go down to the Input Mask row, the Build button. Now it asks if I want to save the table and I do, so I will click Yes. Again, we want a phone number. Next>Next, change it to With the symbols in the mask, Next and Finish. Now, let's try it with our Social Security Number (SSN). The first steps are the same, Input Mask, Build. Save the table and the second line is the Social Security Number.
I will choose Next and Next. Again, I will save the symbols and then Finish. Now, let's see in action. I will go up to my ribbon and change to the data sheet view. I will save the table when it asks. And let's go down and see what happens when we enter in a new record. I am going to jump over here to my phone number. It works best if you Tab into the field so that your cursor is waiting for you in the beginning. That way when you type your numbers, you are exactly where you need to be.
If you click into the field, your cursor is going to wind up where ever you click and if you start typing, you will start typing your numbers somewhere in the middle of the mask. We don't want to do that, so I will go back to the beginning. Now, I will put in my Social Security Number and the symbols pop in automatically. So, to save time, when entering numbers that include punctuation from phone numbers to dates, create an Input Mask so that you will only need to type the digits, and let Access take care of the rest.
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