Here's my folder structure:

Site Contents > Documents > Level 1 folders > Level 2 folders

One of my "Level 1 folders" has unique permissions. Can its Level 2 subfolders inherit permissions from it, or do I also have to set unique permissions on each of its subfolders? That seems to be the case to us, but doesn't make sense to us either...

Is there a better way for us to create a unique set of permissions for a folder hierarchy like this?

Are we better off creating a subsite?

2 Answers 2


Your Level 2 sub folders will automatically inherit from your Level 1 folder. It is up to you if you want to break the permission inheritance at each Level 2 subfolder. That is also possible.

However, my general recommendation to clients is not to establish folder level permissions since it is very difficult to manage with the out-of-the-box interfaces in SharePoint. You might want to rethink your information architecture here and perhaps rely more heavily on libraries rather than folders.

  • So walk me through what adding a library would mean. From Site Contents > Add an app > Document Library. Then I would set permissions for this new library different than my "Documents" library? With this method, I should be able to have everything inherit from the Library rather than needing unique permissions in the middle of the folder hierarchy?
    – MikeR
    Jan 30, 2015 at 21:23

By default each folder or SharePoint element (site, list, library etc..) will inherit permissions from its parent even if the parent broke the permissions from its own parent. So Level 2 will keep inherting permissions from Level 1, so you don't need to do any extra work for it.

There is nothing wrong going in this approach. You might also consider document sets, but you're fine with this approach.

  • What you describe is what we expected, but not what we are seeing! I go through Site Contents into Level 1, then Library > Library Settings > Permissions for this document library. This says "Some items of this list may have unique permissions..." and I click "Show these items". I see my Level 1 folder, but not my level 2 folders. I click "manage permissions" next to the level 1 folder and I see my group with Contribute access. People in that group aren't able to see the folder 2 content. Any ideas?
    – MikeR
    Jan 30, 2015 at 21:28

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