I have been noticing an issue recently where user with either a contribute or edit permission on a document library who have documents shared with them end up with a limited access tag for the specific document.

I have checked the permissions on the library and the users each have the appropriate permission level and inheritance hasn't been broken from its parent site. The documents are being shared either with Read or Edit, but either way the user ends up with a 'Limited Access' permission.

Currently it seems to just be effecting the one library, however it is happening with each document that is shared and there doesn't seem to be an apparent reason. I haven't been able to run extensive testing with every user yet, however it doesn't seem to be impacting their permissions. If at anything, the documents that are being shared with 'Read' are having this permission ignored.

I am basically trying to get the root of what combination of permissions of issues could have lead to this before other libraries run into a similar issue.

Is there something I am missing here?

1 Answer 1


Limited Access is a permission level that is automatically assigned to SharePoint users and groups when they are granted access to an item/objects which causes permission inheritance to break.

For example, if you grant a user access to an item on a list but not the list itself, then the user is assigned Limited Access to the list and it's parent site/s. Similarly, if a user has read access to a library but is granted contribute to an individual item in the library, then they their permission level will appear as Read, Limited Access.

On a slightly less obvious level, if you have a hierarchy similar like below, you will still see Limited Access when a user has access to the library and it's parent site, but not the level above where inheritance is broken.

  • Site Collection (Where users are defined)
    • Subsite A (Inheritance is broken)
      • Subsite B (Inherits from parent)
        • Library A (Inherits from parent)

Directly removing Limited Access from a user is not recommended. Doing so will result in the user losing access to all items in the site for which they have unique permissions to.

  • Okay, I know I kind of disappeared on this one, but I have a follow up. I realize that inheritance would have to be broken for what you have outlined. I just want to make sure I am getting everything here. So if a user has access to a library with, lets say contribute, and an individual object in the library is shared with read - would that cause the same scenario?
    – dramerus
    Jun 1, 2015 at 18:31

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