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FileMaker's Menus

This section provides a quick run-through of FileMaker's contextual menus, which change to reflect the mode you're in ( Figure 3.8 ). Many of the menu commands and options are no different than those in any application: Open File, for example, is a fairly universal action. Some of the commands specific to FileMaker are highlighted on the following pages. Follow the page references for details on the various menu commands and options.

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Figure 3.8 FileMaker's contextual menu bar changes depending on which mode you're in.

The File menu

As the name implies, all the commands within the File menu control actions related directly to file management ( Figure 3.9 ). The File menu appears in all four FileMaker modes, with all its functions available.

  • New Database, Open, Open Remote, Open Recent, Close: With the exception of Open Remote, these commands operate much as they do in most programs. The Open Remote command lets you open a FileMaker database shared over a network. See Sharing on page 243.
  • Define: Use the Define drop-down menu to create fields, set options for entering data in them, and establish references to other files, tables, or value lists. See Defining Fields on page 93 and Creating Relational Databases on page 125. By defining accounts and privileges you can control which files can be seen on a network, who can see them, and which files can be shared; see Sharing on page 243.
  • File Options, Change Password: The File Options drop-down menu sets default layouts and scripts for a file. It also turns on FileMaker's new feature where potentially misspelled words are underlined as you type. See Using Spell Check and Dictionaries on page 73 and Sharing on page 243.
  • Print Setup/Page Setup, Print: These commands operate much as they do in all programs. See Printing on page 81.
  • Import/Export Records, Save/Send Records As, Send Mail, Save a Copy As, Recover: These commands help you convert other database files to the current FileMaker format and send your FileMaker information to others as email, Excel, or PDF files. For more on importing and exporting, see Changing Formats on page 225.
  • Exit/Quit: Use this command to quit FileMaker. If you are running Mac OS X, you'll find the Quit command under the separate FileMaker Pro menu ( Figure 3.42 ).
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Figure 3.9 The File menu's commands are available in all four modes.

The Edit menu

Most of this menu's commands operate just as they do in other programs—except for a few explained below ( Figure 3.10 ). The Edit menu appears in all four FileMaker modes, though not all its functions are available in every mode. (Dimmed items indicate functions not available within that mode.)

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Figure 3.10 The Edit menu appears in all four modes, though not all functions are available in every mode.

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Paste Special: This command can be a tremendous time saver. Essentially, it lets you paste the contents of the clipboard into any FileMaker document.

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Object: This command takes advantage of a standard Windows feature, OLE (Object Linking and Embedding), which allows you to cut and paste data from other applications. The great advantage of OLE is that the data is updated automatically within the FileMaker record whenever it's changed in the original application. See Creating Layouts on page 143.

  • Spelling lets you set what dictionary checks the spelling of words. It does not control FileMaker's new check-as-you-type feature, which is set in the File menu. See Using Spell Check and Dictionaries on page 73.
  • Export Field Contents , a new option in FileMaker 8, lets you export a single field's contents, which becomes very useful when combined with a related script step.
  • Preferences: Setting FileMaker's preferences now will save you time later. To set preferences on the Mac, use the separate FileMaker Pro menu.

The View menu

FileMaker operates in one of four modes: Browse, Find, Layout, or Preview. Each mode is used for a different set of tasks and, so, the options offered under the View menu change depending on which mode you're in ( Figure 3.11 ). In each of the four contextual mode menus, however, the top section remains the same, allowing you to quickly switch to another mode.

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Figure 3.11 Depending on which mode you're in (Browse on the left, Layout on the right), the View menu's commands and functions change.

The rest of the menu changes based on which mode you're in. For example, the Layout mode (right, Figure 3.11 ) includes Show and an extensive submenu.

The Insert menu

The Insert menu, available only in Find and Layout modes, offers a fast way to paste a field, part, object, button, portal, picture, sound, or video into a layout ( Figure 3.12 ). It also enables you to paste in the date, time, a user name, an indexed item, or selected content of the previous record. For more information on inserts, see Finding and Sorting Records on page 49 and Using Variable Fields on page 164. For more on indexing, see Storage options on page 104.

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Figure 3.12 Available only in Find and Layout modes, the Insert menu lets you quickly paste in a field, part, picture, sound, video, date, or user name.

The Format menu

The Format menu appears in all modes except Preview, but offers the most functions in Layout mode ( Figure 3.13 ). The availability of the functions also varies depending on what you've selected within the current record. In general, the functions within the Format menu start at the character level and move toward the field level. See Layout Formatting and Graphics, on page 197.

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Figure 3.13 The Format menu appears in all modes except Preview, but offers the most functions in Layout mode.

  • Font through Text Color: The top six functions control attributes at the character level within a selected field.
  • Text through Graphic: The second group of functions controls attributes at the field level, that is, what type of content the field contains: text, numbers, a date, a time, or a graphic.
  • Field/Control through Button Setup, Format Painter, Set Sliding/Printing: The Field/Control drop-down menu controls the style and behavior of the field container, that is, whether it's a standard field or one that offers a pop-up list or repeats itself. Button Setup links buttons to specific scripts. Portal Setup controls the appearance of related records and associated actions such as sorting. Use the new Tab Control Setup to create and organize a series of single-screen tabs displaying multiple fields. Use the Format Painter to quickly apply attributes from one layout object to another (see page 203).

The Records menu

The Records menu ( Figure 3.14 ), available only in Browse and Preview modes, lets you create, duplicate, and delete records. It also contains commands for changing previous find requests for records and working with sorts of the records. In practice, you'll find yourself using the Records menu in tandem with the Requests menu, explained below. See Finding and Sorting Records, on page 49.

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Figure 3.14 Available only in Browse and Preview modes, the Records menu lets you create, duplicate, and delete records.

The Requests menu

The Requests menu ( Figure 3.15 ), available only in Find mode, contains commands used for finding records. See Finding and Sorting Records, on page 49.

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Figure 3.15 Available only in the Find mode, the Requests menu replaces FileMaker 4 functions found under the now-defunct Select menu.

The Layouts menu

The Layouts menu ( Figure 3.16 ), which naturally enough appears only in Layout mode, lets you create, duplicate, and delete layouts. It also lets you control which layouts will be visible in which modes. See Creating Layouts on page 143.

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Figure 3.16 The Layouts menu, available only in Layout mode, lets you create, duplicate, and delete layouts.

The Arrange menu

The Arrange menu ( Figure 3.17 ), which appears only in Layout mode, lets you control the layering and grouping of objects as you design a layout. See Creating Layouts, on page 143.

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Figure 3.17 Use the Arrange menu, which appears only in Layout mode, to control the layering and grouping of objects as you design a layout.

The Scripts menu

Don't let this menu's unassuming appearance fool you ( Figure 3.18 ). Choosing ScriptMaker will launch a powerful FileMaker feature that enables you to automate many of the program's operations. Existing scripts for the current file appear in the menu's second section.

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Figure 3.18 Use the Scripts menu to launch ScriptMaker, which enables you to automate many of FileMaker's operations.

The Window menu

This works much like the Window menu in most programs: The bottom half of the menu lists all currently open FileMaker databases, enabling you to arrange what's visible on your desktop ( Figure 3.19 ).

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Figure 3.19 Use the Window menu to arrange multiple FileMaker databases on your desktop.

The Help menu

FileMaker's Help menu has some of the best built-in help of any program ( Figure 3.20 ). The FileMaker on the Web choice launches your Web browser and takes you to FileMaker's main support page, where you can register your copy, download program updates, and find out the latest on the product.

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Figure 3.20 FileMaker's Help menu offers some of the best built-in help of any program.

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