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Microsoft SharePoint is a website based content collaboration and management system with several features that allow business teams to increase workflow efficiency. 

It allows team members to manage data, build websites, automate tasks, and establish customized applications. However, not everyone can carry out all functions because it requires permission. 

SharePoint permissions can be a little complicated and confusing as there are several ways to update and change permissions that affect different areas. 

Let us read further about different kinds of permissions and other best practices to manage and streamline your process. 

Types of SharePoint permission groups

SharePoint distributes permissions into three groups for every new site. However, you can create your own group of permissions, but it often adds unnecessary complexity. 

  • Owners

Owners of the site have full control over everything. They can edit, create, and delete anything, also the site itself. The owner in SharePoint need not necessarily be the owner of the business but can be the process owner. 


You can assign ownership to multiple persons, but it is beneficial to have three owners: primary, main backup, and secondary backup. Fewer owners mean lesser risk because there are limited people that can make decisions.

Moreover, when the owner group is small, finger-pointing will be reduced, and changes will not be made just because ‘it was not a big deal.’

You can add the names, email addresses, and working hours of owners on the home page so that everyone knows when and where to find you.

  • Members

Members can make changes within the site. They can upload documents, modify lists, reply to surveys and take part in content management. 


Microsoft, by default, gives the ‘edit’ permission to the group of Members. However, you can change it to ‘Contribute’ to keep people from making a mess of any document you created.

  • How to add or invite people to your SharePoint team site?

Setting → site permissions → invite people → add members to a group/share site only → add members → add names → save. 

In team sites, you can allow permission to each member because they all need to work on the project. For that, select ‘add members to group’ instead of ‘share site only.’

  • How to add people to a communication site?

Share site → add names/share with everyone → change the permission → share.

However, in a communication site where you need to showcase information like policies and guidelines, create only a few members. 

  • Visitors 

Visitors are only allowed to read and download content but cannot change any content. For example, a majority of internet websites. You can only view the websites you browse on the internet and cannot edit them. 


You can add visitors to the team site when they are there only to oversee the project work. For example, management people or reviewers. 

However, on a communication site, there are loads of viewers who need not edit any content. For example, a company policy site. 

What is permission inheritance in SharePoint?

Each content of your site inherits the permission applied to the whole site. So, anyone can access document X who can access document Y.

However, you can break the inheritance of the permission through ‘objective-level permission’ or ‘limited access.’ As a result, you can change the accessibility of certain files, libraries, or pages. 

Moreover, in SharePoint 2013, 2016, and Online, you can see with whom you have shared a file, library, or a list. 

Though you can customize permissions for each element, you should avoid it because it creates more complications. 

Security trimming in SharePoint

People often think that if they switch to SharePoint, they will not be able to keep their data private. On the contrary, security trimming in SharePoint means that if you do not have access to any site, you will never know if it exists. 

Moreover, even if you use keywords related to it, you will only see the sites you have access to. Hence, when a CEO and HR person conduct a search in SharePoint, they will get varied results. 

Default permission levels in SharePoint

  • View only: This allows users to view pages.
  • Limited access: Users can access specific assets and shared resources. They have permission to access particular documents but not the whole site. 
  • Read: It enables users to view and download content.
  • Design: With SharePoint design permission, users can add, delete, update, approve, and modify pages or items on the website.
  • Contribute: It gives users a personal view. Furthermore, it allows users to add, delete, and update web parts. 
  • Edit: This allows users to manage lists.
  • Full control: Users can have total control of the website. They can modify, manage, and have all the benefits of SharePoint permissions.

If you use a customized site template rather than a team site template, you will get additional permission levels for publishing sites as mentioned below:

  • Restricted read: Allows to view documents and pages.
  • Approve: Users can edit and approve items, lists, and documents.
  • Manage Hierarchy: It allows users to create sites, modify permissions, and edit documents. 

SharePoint is a great tool that can be customized to suit specific business needs. Moreover, many Fortune 500 companies rely on SharePoint for a greater user experience. 

Benefits of SharePoint

  • It is a highly flexible intranet platform 
  • It has centralized management that allows ease of management
  • You can tailor the default SharePoint features
  • Organize your company’s data in an accessible way
  • Cloud storage can also be accessed by mobile device 
  • You can save siloed site administration costs by integrating all of your sites into a single platform
  • It also allows integration with other business applications
  • With customized permissions, you can reduce the risk of unauthorized control
  • You can combine other applications and schedule content for publishing on social and various other websites


Sharepoint can be a great asset for any business, and there are lots of benefits of SharePoint permissions. They can empower site security and keep business data organized.

Moreover, when you have access to restricted content, your results will trim out extra and unnecessary information and create a win-win situation for business and team members. 

However, it is necessary to keep permissions simple, avoid breaking permission inheritance and carefully assign permissions to team members. 

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