Basics: What are permissions?

This topic is designed for you if you use a site, but you are not responsible for managing other people’s permissions to the site.

In this article

What do I need to get started?

How do I get a user account?

What is a security group?

What are permissions?

Why don’t I see the same thing someone else sees?

What do I need to get started?

Before you can view or work in a site, two things have to happen:

  • You have to be given a user account.

Your user account has to be granted permissions (sometimes also named rights, or access) for you to work with the site.

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How do I get a user account?

Generally, your user account is created by your organization’s IT organization. Your user account will probably use the same logon information – that is, username and password—that the network account uses.

Note:  If you are working in a large organization with a complex installation, it might take some time for your account to be created and reproduced throughout the whole organization network. This means that people might be unable to see your user account immediately, and you might be unable to use some sites at first.

Often you’ll know that you have a user account on a sitebecause you’ll get an e-mail welcoming you to a new site, together with a link to the site.

When you click the link and go to the site, you can see your account name in the upper-right corner of the screen. For example, here’s what a Contoso employee named Molly sees when she visits her team site:

Account name is shown in the top right

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What is a security group?

After your user account is created, it can be assigned to one or many security groups. A security group is a group of people, usually based on the roles they play in the organization, who all have to perform the same kinds of tasks on a site.

So, for example, other people who do similar jobs in your organization might all be assigned to the same group.

For example, everyone in the Human Resources group of the Contoso company might be in a security group named Contoso HR. Everyone who was a member of the Contoso HR group would have permission to see and work with sensitive employee information that people in other groups at Contoso couldn’t see.

For information, see About security groups.

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What are permissions?

Permissions determine what you can do and see on a Web site.

Whoever manages access to your site assigns permission levels to groups of people or to individual people.

That person decides which sites, subsites, or pieces of content that you should have access to, and what kinds of tasks that you should be able to perform on them.

For example, you might have permission to read and review content on a site, or, if your job requires it, you might have permission to check out content and edit it.

For information, see Control user access with permissions.

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Why don’t I see the same thing someone else sees?

Sometimes your permission levels determine which commands or options that you see on your site. If you don’t have the permissions to perform certain tasks, you don’t need the tools associated with that task, so the site might remove or disable those options. (Disabled options are dimmed to indicate that you can’t click them.)

For example, here are two views of the Site Actions menu for the same site.

The first view is the menu as Christa Geller, who is a member of the Site Owner group, sees it.

The second one is the menu as Frank Martinez, who is a member of the Site Visitor group, sees it.

As you can see, Christa sees more options, because she has more permissions and can perform more tasks on the site:

Christa Geller, Site Owner, sees this:

Site Owner view

Frank Martinez, Site Visitor, sees this:

Site visitor view

Tip:  You can request more permissions, or permissions to a specific site, by clicking your account name in the upper-right corner of the screen and clicking Request Access on the dropdown menu.

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