Access is basically finding information in the organization provided by the interface and bringing it onto the screen making it visible. Many attributes of information affect access through the process of recall. Users typically recall more about pieces of information than labels (nominal), such as when it was received (temporal), what it looks like (visual), and where it was put (spatial). Systems typically map these access modalities onto textual, spatial and visual attributes of the presentations.
LifeStreams  provides users a time-ordered linear visualization of documents where users make use of temporal attributes of documents for access. Similarly, in LifeLines  users access information from a categorically organized multiple time-line style visualization.
News in the Future  uses textual categories, where users access news messages by examining nominal attributes of each category. File structure commands in MS-DOS and UNIX systems also follow the nominal access modality.
Many of the graphical information management systems allow users to access information based on spatial attributes. The desktop metaphor promotes spatial approach, where users can organize information on the desktop and then access them by recalling their location. Other examples are Harmony , IGD , News in the Future , Perspective Wall , VIKI , WebBook and Web Forager , and Pad++ .
The desktop metaphor also supports access based on the visual attributes (e.g. icon image and color, window contents, etc.) of information. Pad++ uses visual access modality remarkably good as information is presented at multiple levels of scale. Other examples are the WebBook and Web Forager , SeeSoft , and MosaicG .
Some systems use multiple attributes of information in their presentation, allowing users to recall in multiple modalities. For example, Pad++ facilitates access based on recall of both the spatial and visual attributes. It is very beneficial to incorporate as many access modalities as possible. Relying on a single access modality may decrease user performance and satisfaction.