SharePoint Permissions: A Beginner’s Guide for 2023!

SharePoint is a powerful tool that many organizations use to manage their documents and collaborate with their teams. Understanding how SharePoint permissions work is crucial for maintaining data security.

This blog post will cover everything you need to know about SharePoint permissions. From understanding permission levels to managing permissions in team and communication sites, we have you covered.

What Are SharePoint Permissions?

SharePoint permissions control which users, groups, or sites can access specific resources within SharePoint. By granting the right level of access, organizations can protect sensitive information from unauthorized access and ensure that team members have the necessary access they need to perform their job functions.

Default SharePoint Permission Levels

SharePoint Online offers different permission levels to give users appropriate access control. Full Control, Limited Access, Restricted View, Design, Contribute, Edit, and Read are some of the permission levels you need to know. Let’s take a closer look at the various SharePoint permission levels below.

Full Control

The highest level of permission in SharePoint Online is Full Control, which allows users to perform all actions on a site, including managing permissions and deleting the entire site.

It’s critical to restrict this level of access to only trusted individuals who require it for their work, as it could have significant consequences if misused. Full Control should generally not be granted to regular users or external partners.

Limited Access

Limited Access allows users to access a specific item or document within a site or library. However, users with Limited Access cannot view the entire site or library but can still perform specific actions on the item to which they have access.

Limited Access can be helpful in situations where you want to share a specific document with someone without granting them access to other documents or confidential information.

Restricted View

Restricted view allows users to view items and pages but does not allow them to edit or delete them.

This is useful for securing sensitive information while allowing certain users to view it. Restricted View users can also add comments and annotations to the items they are able to view, making collaboration easier while still maintaining control over the information.


The Design permission level allows users to view and edit pages, create new subsites, and modify existing site designs.

Design permission is particularly useful for teams collaborating on projects and making site layouts and functionality changes. However, assigning this permission level only to trusted users who understand SharePoint and its features well is essential.


Contribute allows users to add, edit, and delete items in a list or library and add, delete, or modify personal Web Parts. This permission is often assigned to team members that need to collaborate on documents or specific projects.

You must carefully consider who you give this permission level, as they will have significant control over the content in your SharePoint lists or libraries.


This permission allows users to create, edit, and delete items within the site. It’s often given to content creators or team leads who need to modify vital documents or pages. In addition to editing content, users with Edit permission can also manage lists and libraries within the site. However, they are not able to modify site settings.


The read permission level in SharePoint Online allows users to view content on a site or list without being able to make any changes. This level is ideal for users who only need to read or review content, such as reports or announcements.

Depending on users’ needs, read access can be granted at both the site and individual item levels. Using the read permission level effectively ensures that your content remains secure and accessible only to those with appropriate clearance.

Team Site vs. Communication Site Permissions in SharePoint

SharePoint team site permissions focus on collaboration within a team or group. Team site permissions are usually granular and specific, allowing for fine-tuned access control.

On the other hand, communication site permissions are geared toward broadcasting information to a broad audience. Communication site permissions may include audience targeting options to ensure certain groups only see specific content.

Read more: Team Site vs. Communication Site In SharePoint: What’s the Difference?

SharePoint List Permissions

For SharePoint List Permissions, you can grant and revoke permissions at the list level to control which users or groups can view, edit, or delete data.

The following permissions are available for lists in SharePoint:

Permission Function(s)
Managing lists Create and delete lists in SharePoint. Add or delete columns from lists. Add or remove public views of a list.
View items View list items in SharePoint sites and view documents in document libraries.
Delete items Delete list items in SharePoint and remove documents from document libraries.
Approve items Approve a minor version of SharePoint list items or documents.
Add Items Add new items to SharePoint lists and add documents to document libraries.
Override List Behaviors Discard or check-in documents checked out to other users. Change or override settings allowing users to read/edit only their own items.
View versions View list versions in SharePoint
Delete versions Delete list versions in SharePoint
Create Alerts Set up alerts for SharePoint lists
Open Items View a document’s source
View application pages View forms, views, and application pages.

Read more: How to Create a SharePoint List and Use it For Your Business?

SharePoint Group Permissions

SharePoint groups are a great way to manage permissions for multiple users at once. These groups enable you to group users based on department, role or project needs and assign appropriate permissions accordingly.

SharePoint also allows for nested groups, where one group can be a member of another group.

The following permissions are available for groups in SharePoint:

Group Name Permission Level Function(s)
Member Edit Edit permissions for entire SharePoint sites.
Owner Full Control Full control permissions for entire SharePoint sites.
Visitor Read Read Only permissions for SharePoint sites.
Viewer View View Only permissions for entire SharePoint sites.

Frequently Asked Questions on SharePoint Permissions

SharePoint permissions play a crucial role in maintaining access control and ensuring the security of valuable data. You can grant or revoke permissions to users or groups based on their roles at any time. The following are frequently asked questions regarding permissions in SharePoint Online:

How Do SharePoint Permissions Work?

SharePoint Online utilizes a combination of inheritance and unique permissions to manage permissions across different levels. This means that specific permissions may be inherited from higher levels, while others may be unique to specific items or lists.

Inheritance means that when you assign permissions at a high level (such as a site collection or site), those permissions are automatically inherited by all the lower-level items (such as lists or libraries) underneath.

If you want to assign unique permissions to an item or lower-level object, you can break inheritance and assign them separately.

How Do I Set Permissions in SharePoint?

Setting permissions in SharePoint involves identifying users or groups that require access to resources and assigning them the appropriate permission level(s). This way, you can ensure that only authorized users can access confidential information.

SharePoint offers permission levels ranging from Full Control to Read Only access, which can be customized to meet your organization’s needs.

How Many Permission Levels Does SharePoint Have?

SharePoint has three levels of permissions: site level, list or library level, and item or folder level.

Each permission level can be customized to allow or restrict specific actions such as viewing, editing, or deleting content. Site owners have control over assigning permissions to individual users or groups of users to manage access to different parts of the site.

What Are Some Best Practices for Managing SharePoint Permissions?

When it comes to managing SharePoint permissions, several best practices can help ensure that your system remains secure and efficient.

One key practice is regularly reviewing and updating permission levels so only specific individuals can access sensitive information. Assigning permissions based on job roles and responsibilities will help simplify permissions management. Using SharePoint groups can further streamline this process.

To ensure that everyone in your organization understands how to use permissions properly, it’s critical to document your permission structure and communicate it clearly to all users. You should also implement a regular training program for users and administrators.

This will help them stay up-to-date on changes or updates to the system and learn how to manage permissions within SharePoint effectively.

What Are Member and Owner Permissions in SharePoint?

In SharePoint, owner permission grants complete control of the site, including managing permissions and access levels for other users. On the other hand, member permission allows users to contribute content, make edits, and participate in discussions but does not give them the ability to manage permissions or settings.

It’s crucial to carefully consider who owner permission has and limit it to trusted individuals. Granting too many owner permissions can increase the risk of data breaches or unauthorized access. Reviewing and adjusting permission levels can also help ensure data security and prevent unauthorized access.


Understanding permissions is crucial for ensuring your team members have the right access to the right information at the right time.

You can easily manage access control and streamline collaboration within your organization using the different permission levels available in SharePoint Online. Whether you need to grant access to a specific document or folder, share a site, or monitor and report on permissions, SharePoint has a permission level suitable for everyone.

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Ikimi O. is an experienced technical writer passionate about software, technology, and engineering. He has a background in engineering and has written content on a wide variety of topics and niches. His hobbies include reading, watching movies, and traveling.