Grant permissions to anonymous users

You can grant anonymous access to your site or to specific lists and libraries on your site when you want people to be able to see your content without having to log in. For example, you might give permissions to anonymous users if

  • You want to let people give feedback anonymously.

  • Your site faces the Internet and you don’t want the general public to have to log in.

  • You want to ensure that everyone can get to your content.

Caution:  When you grant people permission to view your site, lists, or libraries anonymously, they can discover site information, including user e-mail addresses and any content posted to lists, libraries, and discussions.

When you grant people permissions other than Read on lists and libraries, they can anonymously contribute to lists, discussions, and surveys, and documents, and they can make comments that aren’t attributable to anyone.

To create a more secure site, list, or library, do not enable anonymous access.

In this article

What is anonymous access?

Anonymous access options

Turn on anonymous access for a site

Turn on anonymous access for a list or library that uses unique permissions

What is anonymous access?

When you turn on anonymous access to a site, you allow people (including authenticated users who have not been granted access to the site) to browse the entire site without logging in. They can seeany list, library, folder within a list or library, list item, or document that inherits its permissions from the site.

For information about working with SharePoint permissions to grant people access to your sites, see Control user access with permissions.

Before you can grant people anonymous access, your server administrator must choose to allow anonymous access on your site in Central Administration.

Note:  Even if your server administrator has allowed anonymous access at the Central Administration level, anonymous access is turned off by default on your sites, and for their lists, and libraries. So, you must do the following:

  • First determine whether anonymous access is enabled in Central Administration for your site.

  • Then, if it is enabled in Central Administration, turn it on for your site.

If your server administrator has enabled anonymous access, and if you have the Manage Permissions permission (that is, if you're a member of the Site Owner group, or similar SharePoint group), you can do the following:

  • Grant anonymous access for an entire site.

  • Grant anonymous access on specific lists or libraries.

  • Block anonymous access on a site.

For information about SharePoint groups and group membership, see About SharePoint groups.

If your server administrator has not enabled anonymous access, the Anonymous Access option does not appear on the Permission Tools menu.


Anonymous users cannot open sites for editing in programs such as SharePoint Designer, nor can they view the site in Network Places.

As is the case with other permissions settings, when you grant anonymous access on a site, you also grant anonymous access on subsites and content that inherit permissions from the site.

For information about permissions inheritance, see What is permissions inheritance?.

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Anonymous access options

With anonymous access to:

Anonymous users can:

Anonymous users cannot:

Entire Web site

Browse your entire site.

Read any lists, libraries, or folder within a list or library that inherits its permissions from the site, and open and read any list items or documents in those lists and libraries.

Change the content.

Lists and libraries

Read lists and libraries on which the View Items permission has been granted to anonymous users.

Browse the site.

Change the content.

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Turn on anonymous access for a site

  1. Open the site on which you want to turn on anonymous access.

  2. On the Site Actions menu, click Site Permissions.

  3. On the permissions page, click Anonymous Access.

  4. In the Anonymous Access dialog box, select the parts of your Web site that you want anonymous users to access, and then click OK.


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Turn on anonymous access for a list or library that uses unique permissions

Follow these steps only if you have turned on anonymous access for the site as described in the previous procedure and have granted access to either the entire site or only lists and libraries in step 4 above.

Also, make sure the list or library you want to work with uses unique permissions instead of inheriting permissions from its parent site.

For more information about unique permissions, see Control access to a specific piece of content or, for basics, see What is uniquely secured content?

  1. Browse to the list or library that uses unique permissions for which you want to enable anonymous access.

  2. Click the Listtab on the List Tools menu (or the Library tab on the Library Tools menu).

  3. Click the List Permissions (or Library Permissions) button.

  4. On the Permissions Tools menu, click Anonymous Access.

  5. In the Anonymous Access dialog box, select the permissions that you want to grant to anonymous users for this list or library, and then click OK.


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