SharePoint Permissions - Important Aspects

In this article I am trying to reveal the important permissions aspects of SharePoint 2010. Please note that this will be a subset of Security.


Here you can learn the associated jargons of Permissions.

What is Permission?

Permission is the term used to describe a secured action. Some of the Permissions are:

  • View Item
  • Open Site
  • Read Item
  • Delete Item

Why are Permissions needed in SharePoint?

Since SharePoint is a sharing & collaborative platform, without permission the usage will lead to inappropriate data, file sharing issues, content manipulations etcetera.

What are the Permissions Types?

In SharePoint there are 2 types of Permissions:

  1. Unique
  2. Inherited

The Unique Permission (Custom Permission) is assigned for a particular securable object like site collection. Inherited Permission is the ones inherited from its parent. Inherited Permission is easier to manage, but Unique Permissions gives more granularities in control.

Often the terms Break Permissions & Break Inheritance are also used to define Unique Permissions. This is because we use the Break Permissions button on the particular item to provide unique permissions.

How to set Permissions?

For setting site permissions use the "Site Actions" > "Site Permissions" menu item:


For setting list permissions use the "List" tab > "List Permissions" button:


For setting item, document, folder permissions right-click and in the context menu select the "Manage Permissions" menu item:


What are Permissions Levels?

Permission Levels are a group of Permission Items. We can associate a Permission Level to a user. Three of the pre-existing & most commonly used Permission Levels are:

  1. Full Control
  2. Contribute
  3. Read

Permission Levels provide easier manageability through grouping of Permissions. We can also create custom permission levels.

What is SharePoint Group?

A SharePoint Group is a group of users. Grouping multiple users into a single group is the recommended way from Microsoft. By default, SharePoint groups are not nestable. (In contrast with Active Directory groups that are nestable.)
The following are the default recommended groups in SharePoint:

  1. Owners
  2. Contributors
  3. Visitors

We can assign Permission Levels to groups. The recommended permission level to groups is:

  1. Owners group can be assigned Full Control permission level
  2. Members group can be assigned Contribute permission level
  3. Visitors group can be assigned Read permission level

How to assign Permissions?

For assigning permissions, open the permission page.


For granting permission to a particular user, choose the Grant Permissions button. In the dialog that appears enter the user/group name, resolve it, select permission levels & click the "OK" button.


In the permissions page, you will see the new item is added.


What are the securable objects in SharePoint?

The following are the Securable Objects in SharePoint:

  1. Site
  2. List
  3. Library
  4. Item
  5. Document
  6. Folder


SPGroup & SPUser

Inside the Server Object Model, SharePoint Groups are represented through type SPGroup. SharePoint Users (Active Directory User/Group, Windows User) are represented through SPUser.



In this article we have explored an overview of Permissions. In future chapters you will see the Permission Toolbar items, Best Practices & Free Tools to work with Permissions.