I have inherited ownership of a Sharepoint site by someone who left the company several months ago. I've been asked to reorganize the site (it's still a mess from when they migrated from 2007; the current version is 2010).

I have been self-teaching SharePoint as my workplace does not offer any support. I believe that using site columns would be a very useful way to manage the many libraries we have.

My suspicion is that the now-gone employee, who I've heard was also self-taught, may not have known about/used site columns. However, I'm not sure how to check if this is true.

I went to the site gallery and while it seems theoretically possible to go through all the columns and compare them to the default set, I'm not sure where to discover what that default set is.

What I'd really like to do is go to any library and find out if the columns in that library are custom for that library or if they are site columns. Is this possible? Googling is only getting me hits about how to add site columns.

I would appreciate any tips! Thanks.

  • You can do this with powershell if you have server access: ktnnsharepoint.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/…
    – Erin L
    Jul 21, 2016 at 21:16
  • Hi Erin, thank you! I'm not sure that I do. Do you think that using powershell is the only option, or just the most efficient option? I can look into getting server access - I doubt I have it currently. Perhaps it's worth having in the long run?
    – mmallek
    Jul 22, 2016 at 14:08
  • It will be more efficient than going into every library, enabling content management, and checking every column individually.
    – Erin L
    Jul 22, 2016 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


When you click on the column name in list settings it will not tell you whether it's a site column. If you enable content management on a library, go into the content type, and click on a column name, it will tell you if the column is inherited from a site column because you won't be able to edit it, and it will provide a link to edit the site column.

enter image description here

  • Thank you so much! I think that there are zero site columns in use, because I haven't seen that at all (and it looks familiar from some of the training videos I've watched). This is really helpful!
    – mmallek
    Jul 22, 2016 at 18:34
  • I mean, no custom site columns, not no site columns at all.
    – mmallek
    Jul 22, 2016 at 18:39
  • I didn't find the difference. Both Site Column and Local library column are showing exactly like your screenshot above. You cannot tell if it's a site column or local column once you add a column from an existing site column.
    – Amos
    Jul 2, 2019 at 16:47

When you add site columns to a list, it makes a copy of the site column into the list. That's how it works. Ideally you want to add the site columns to a content type and then add this content to the list. When you click on the columns in the list settings page, you can come to know whether it is site column or list column.

  • Thank you for your response. To be clear, I'm not creating new libraries. I'm reorganizing existing libraries. But I'm thinking of replacing existing individual library columns with site columns, especially for libraries with identical columns that live on different subsites. It would help a lot of you could please elaborate on how I can "come to know whether it is site column or list column" - that's precisely what's not clear to me.
    – mmallek
    Jul 22, 2016 at 14:07

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