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SharePoint Designer 2010: You do not have permission to do this operation

SharePoint Designer 2010:  You do not have permission to do this operation
–  or  –
Master Page Error:  The Master Page File ‘https://yourserver.com/yourPath/yourSC/_catalogs/masterpage/v4.master‘ cannot be loaded.  Attach a different Master Page, or correct the problem in Code view.

Environment Specifications: 

  • SharePoint Designer 2010. 
  • Windows XP OR Windows 7
  • All of the problem sites were sites that had been migrated from 2007
  • All of the users having problems had FULL CONTROL of the sites they were trying to get into
  • When using a VPN, we always get both errors
  • When outside of the network completely (our site is accessible on the internet with credentials) then we sometimes do not get the first error, but we can’t put the page into Design mode because of the second error.

So we figured out that it had something to do with permissions at the Master Page Gallery at the top of the site collection.  But what was wierd was that any new subsite we created did NOT have this problem.

Well, to make a long story short, we were right, and it’s a “feature”.  KB Article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2592376 from Mirosoft explains that you have to be one of 3 different permissions, at the site collection level, in order to edit in designer:

  • Site Collection Administrator
  • Designer
  • Owner

Now we whittled it down to this – you don’t have to be in the “Designers” group at the top of the site collection – but if your configuration of the Master Pages Gallery was untouched, that WOULD work (because Designers were set as Design level in the Master Pages Gallery).  Basically the short of it is, you need to HAVE DESIGN OR GREATER PERMISSIONS ON THE MASTER PAGE BEING USED (or just the whole gallery) at the TOP OF THE SITE COLLECTION.

Turns out the reason for these varying behaviors is this:  In 2007, new sites would automatically inherit their master pages from their parents.  If you made no changes to that, it inherited right up to the top.  So it’s looking at the master page from the top, in those circumstances.  And as we’ve seen here, if you don’t have Design permissions to it, it doesn’t work.

In the case of a new 2010 site (just a regular Team Site), the new 2010 behavior is to use the Master Page in the gallery it has in its own site.  And since the user is an Administrator (Full Control) of that site, then no problem getting to the Master Page!

Just so you know, we did end up calling in a Microsoft Ticket on this one, to confirm our findings.  We knew at that point it had to be something about permissions at the top, but we didn’t know why.  They confirmed it, providing the KB article I mentioned earler, and the explanation you see in this article.

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3 responses to “SharePoint Designer 2010: You do not have permission to do this operation

  1. chiqnlips April 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for posting this! The KB article confirmed my suspicions.

  2. Mike September 8, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks for this information! We didn’t upgrade from SharePoint 2010 and, as you mentioned, I “am” able to give subsite users “Design” permissions on the subsite and they are able to use SharePoint Designer on the subsite even though they only have “Read” permissions on the parent Site Collection. The Microsoft documentation seems to say this is not possible, but it seems to work. Thanks for the description as to why this works. You mentioned you opened a case with Microsoft. Did you happen to ask them if doing this is supported? I would really like to be able to give users access to “Designer” on their own subsites, but I wanted to make sure they can only effect they’re own subsite and not impact the site collection in any way. Thanks!

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