Understanding permission levels

Permissions enable users to access resources that they need. For example, permissions enable users to do something such as open an item in a library or create a subsite. Often, single permissions are grouped into a collection of permissions known as a “permissions level”. For example, if you want to give people permission to read items on your site, you must also give them permission to view the page that contains the item. The Read permission level includes all the single permissions that a user has to have to read items.

To save time, SharePoint pre-defines different combinations of permissions. These pre-defined permission levels are known as “default permission levels”.

This article describes the permissions in the default permission levels, and then describes the relationship between permission levels and permissions that are available for lists, sites, and individual users.

In this article


Overview

A permission level is a combination of SharePoint permissions. Permission levels specify which permissions users have for a site or list, and therefore, whether people can view, change, or manage a site. By default, SharePoint pre-defines some permission levels.

Default permission levels

The following table describes the permissions that are included in the default permission levels for SharePoint Server.

Permission level Description
Full Control Contains all available SharePoint permissions. By default, this level is assigned to the Owners group and can’t be customized or deleted.
Design Create lists and document libraries, edit pages, and apply themes, borders, and style sheets. By default, this level is not assigned automatically to any SharePoint group.
Edit Add, edit, and delete lists, list items, and documents. By default, this level is assigned to the Members group.
Contribute Add, edit, and delete items in existing lists and document libraries. By default, this level is not assigned automatically to any SharePoint group.
Read Read-only access to items, pages, and documents. By default, this level is assigned to the Visitors group.
Limited Access

The Limited Access permission level is unusual. It enables a user or group to browse to a site page or library in order to access a specific content item. Typically, the user has been given access to a single item in a list or library, but does not have permission to open or edit any other items in the library. The limited Access permission level includes all the permissions that the user requires to access the required item.

You cannot assign Limited Access permission level directly to a user or group. Instead, you assign appropriate permission to the single item, and then SharePoint automatically assigns Limited Access to other required locations.

Approve Edit and approve pages, list items, and documents. By default, the Approvers group has this permission.
Manage Hierarchy Create sites and edit pages, list items, and documents. This permission level is assigned to the Hierarchy Managers group by default.
Restricted Read View pages and documents, but cannot view historical versions or user permissions.
View Only View pages, items, and documents. Any document with a server-side file handler can be opened and seen in the browser but not downloaded.

For information about how to assign and manage permission levels, see Edit, create, and delete permission levels.

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Permission levels and SharePoint groups

To help make managing site access more efficient, permission levels work together with SharePoint groups. A SharePoint group is a set of users who all have the same permission level. That is, all users in a SharePoint group have the same collection of permissions.

By default, each kind of SharePoint site includes certain SharePoint groups. For example, a Team Site automatically includes the Owners, Members, and Visitors group. A Publishing Portal site includes those groups and several more, such as Approvers, Designers, Hierarchy Managers, and so on. When you create a site, SharePoint automatically creates a pre-defined set of SharePoint groups for that site. In addition, a SharePoint admin can define custom groups and permission levels.

To learn more about SharePoint groups, see Understanding SharePoint groups.

The SharePoint groups and permission levels that are included by default in your site may differ, depending on:

  • The template that you choose for the site
  • Whether a SharePoint admin created a unique permissions set on the site that has a specific purpose, such as Search

The following table describes the default permission levels and associated permissions for three standard groups: Visitors, Members, and Owners.

Group Permission level
Visitors

Read    This level includes these permissions:

  • Open
  • View Items, Versions, pages, and Application pages
  • Browse User Information
  • Create Alerts
  • Use Self-Service Site Creation
  • Use Remote Interfaces
  • Use Client Integration Features
Members

Edit.     This level includes all permissions in Read, plus:

  • Add, Edit and Delete Lists
  • View, Add, Update, and Delete list Items
  • Delete Versions
  • Browse Directories
  • Edit Personal User Information
  • Manage Personal Views
  • Add, Update, or Remove Personal Web Parts
Owners Full Control     This level includes all available SharePoint permissions

Permission levels and permission inheritance

By default, permissions are inherited in SharePoint—that is, permissions set at the site collection level are copied to every site, list, and item in the site collection. This means that the permission levels that you set when you first create SharePoint groups can affect access for every site, list, library, folder, and item in the site.

If the default settings aren’t what you want for your organization, you can customize how you assign permissions by uniquely securing sites, lists, folders, and items in SharePoint. For more information, see What is uniquely secured content?

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Site, list, and personal permissions and permission levels

SharePoint permissions apply to three categories of content: site permissions, list permissions, and personal permissions.

The following sections contain tables that describe each of these categories. The tables list the SharePoint permissions and the permission levels that use these permissions.

  • Site permissions and permission levels
  • List permissions and permission levels
  • Personal permissions and permission levels

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Site permissions and permission levels

Site permissions apply generally across a SharePoint site. The following table describes the permissions that apply to sites, and show the permission levels that use them.

Permission Full Control Design Edit Contribute Read Limited Access Approve Manage Hierarchy Restricted Read View Only
Manage Permissions X X
View Web Analytics Data X X
Create Subsites X X
Manage Web Site X X
Add and Customize Pages X X X
Apply Themes and Borders X X
Apply Style Sheets X X
Create Groups X
Browse Directories X X X X X X
Use Self-Service Site Creation X X X X X X X X
View Pages X X X X X X X X X
Enumerate Permissions X X
Browse User Information X X X X X X X X X
Manage Alerts X X
Use Remote Interfaces X X X X X X X X X
Use Client Integration Features X X X X X X X X X
Open X X X X X X X X X X
Edit Personal User Information X X X X X X

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List permissions and permission levels

List permissions apply to content in lists and libraries. The following table describes the permissions that apply to lists and libraries, and show the permission levels that use them.

Permission Full Control Design Edit Contribute Read Limited Access Approve Manage Hierarchy Restricted Read View Only
Manage Lists X X X X
Override List Behaviors X X X X
Add Items X X X X X X
Edit Items X X X X X X
Delete Items X X X X X X
View Items X X X X X X X X X
Approve Items X X X
Open Items X X X X X X X X
View Versions X X X X X X X
Delete Versions X X X X X X
Create Alerts X X X X X X X X
View Application Pages X X X X X X X X X

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Personal permissions and permission levels

Personal permissions apply to content that belongs to a single user. The following table describes the permissions that apply to personal views and web parts, and show the permission levels that use them.

Permission Full Control Design Edit Contribute Read Limited Access Approve Manage Hierarchy Restricted Read View Only
Manage Personal Views X X X X X X
Add/Remove Private Web Parts X X X X X X
Update Personal Web Parts X X X X X X

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Permissions and dependencies

SharePoint permissions can depend on other SharePoint permissions. For example, you must be able to open an item to view it. So, View Items permission depends on Open permission.

When you select a SharePoint permission that depends on another, SharePoint automatically selects the associated permission. Similarly, when you clear SharePoint permission, SharePoint automatically clears any SharePoint permission that depends on it. For example, when you clear View Items, SharePoint automatically clears Manage Lists (you can't manage a list if you can't view an item).

The following sections contain tables that describe SharePoint permissions for each permission category. For each permission category, the table shows the dependent permissions.

  • Site permissions and dependent permissions
  • List permissions and dependent permissions
  • Personal permissions and dependent permissions

Site permissions and dependent permissions

The following table describes the permissions that apply to sites, and show the permissions that depend on them.

Permission Description Dependent permissions
Manage Permissions Create and change permission levels on the website and assign permissions to users and groups. Approve Items, Enumerate Permissions, Open
View Web Analytics Data View reports on website usage. Approve Items, Open
Create Subsites Create subsites such as team sites, Meeting Workspace sites, and Document Workspace sites. View Pages, Open
Manage Web Site Perform all administration tasks for the website and also manage content. View Pages, Open
Add and Customize Pages Add, change, or delete HTML pages or Web Part pages, and edit the website by using a Windows SharePoint Services-compatible editor. View Items, Browse Directories, View Pages, Open
Apply Themes and Borders Apply a theme or borders to the whole website. View Pages, Open
Apply Style Sheets Apply a style sheet (.css file) to the website. View Pages, Open
Create Groups Create a group of users who can be used anywhere within the site collection. View Pages, Open
Browse Directories Enumerate files and folders in a website by using an interface such as SharePoint Designer or web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (Web DAV). View Pages, Open
Use Self-Service Site Creation Create a website by using Self-Service Site Creation. View Pages, Open
View Pages View pages in a website. Open
Enumerate Permissions Enumerate permissions on the website, list, folder, document, or list item. View Items, Open Items, View Versions, Browse Directories, View Pages, Open
Browse User Information View information about users of the website. Open
Manage Alerts Manage alerts for all users of the website View Items, Create Alerts, View Pages, Open
Use Remote Interfaces Use Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web DAV, or SharePoint Designer interfaces to access the website. Open
Open Open a website, list, or folder to access items inside that container. No dependent permissions
Edit Personal User Information Allow a user to change personal user information, such as adding a picture. Browse User Information, Open

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List permissions and dependent permissions

The following table describes the permissions that apply to lists and libraries, and show the permissions that depend on them.

Permission Description Dependent permissions
Manage Lists Create and delete lists, add or remove columns in a list, and add or remove public views of a list. View Items, View Pages, Open, Manage Personal Views
Override List Behaviors Discard or check in a document which is checked out to another user. View Items, View Pages, Open
Add Items Add items to lists, add documents to document libraries, and add web discussion comments. View Items, View Pages, Open
Edit Items Edit items in lists, edit documents in document libraries, edit web discussion comments in documents, and customize Web Part Pages in document libraries. View Items, View Pages, Open
Delete Items Delete items from a list, documents from a document library, and web discussion comments in documents. View Items, View Pages, Open
View Items View items in lists, documents in document libraries, and web discussion comments. View Pages, Open
Approve Items Approve a minor version of a list item or document. Edit Items, View Items, View Pages, Open
Open Items View the source of documents that use server-side file handlers. View Items, View Pages, Open
View Versions View past versions of a list item or document. View Items, View Pages, Open
Delete Versions Delete past versions of a list item or document. View Items, View Versions, View Pages, Open
Create Alerts Create e-mail alerts. View Items, View Pages, Open
View Application Pages View documents and views in a list or document library. Open

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Personal permissions and dependent permissions

The following table describes the permissions that apply to personal views and web parts, and show the permissions that depend on them.

Permission Description Dependent permissions
Manage Personal Views Create, change, and delete personal views of lists. View Items, View Pages, Open
Add/Remove Private Web Parts Add or remove private Web Parts on a Web Part Page. View Items, View Pages, Open, Update Personal Web Parts
Update Personal Web Parts Update Web Parts to display personalized information. View Items, View Pages, Open

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Applies to:
SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, SharePoint Server 2013 Standard