Working on a public facing SharePoint Foundation 2010 site with anonymous access enabled. Anonymous/authenticated access to content works as expected without problems so far.

Recently I went into creating a custom theme (thmx) to change some of the colors which works without a hassle while testing it as authenticated user.

However, as soon as I started testing as anonymous the theme is not applied at all?

So far, I've tested with IE 8, Firefox (latest), Chrome (latest), Safari (latest), Opera (latest). All with the same issue not displaying the applied theme to anonymous users but display to authenticated users.

To make sure it is not service pack related I ran a test with Foundation 2010 RTM and Foundation 2010 SP1 with the Oct 2011 CU with the same results.

Also, to rule out any custom stuff I've tested again with a plain vanilla Web application/Site collection/SPWeb and used only the built-in themes of the theme gallery, but it didn't work either.

I've also double checked that the Theme Gallery has no custom permissions applied (it is set to the default to inherit from the parent SPWeb).

I'm running out of ideas what else could be wrong.

Any ideas? Can somebody reproduce that behavior?


3 Answers 3


I haven't worked in a lot of anon environments, and it was always my belief that themes were only available once authenticated. If you needed to style something to anon users, you'd need to use a custom master page and/or a custom CSS sheet.

When I started to brand http://pirateeric.sharepointspace.com, themes didn't show up when I wasn't logged in so I switched it up to a branded masterpage which is visible to all users, authenticated and anon.

Purely anecdotal. And here's some TechNet information to back it up.

If you apply a theme to a SharePoint Foundation 2010 site, anonymous users who browse the site will see only the default theme. To make the selected theme appear for all users, you must add a link in the master page to the generated .css file.

  • So, at least I'm not alone. I'm just wondering if this is a bug which should be reported to Microsoft (and how). It's definitely a regression from SharePoint 2007 and I don't want to reinvent the wheel just for a simple task like applying a theme created with PowerPoint.
    – Sig Weber
    Nov 14, 2011 at 13:57
  • Added some additional info with a link to TechNet. Nov 14, 2011 at 14:05
  • Thanks! Marked this as answer. Do you by any chance have a link to the TechNet source and an example how such a link should look like?
    – Sig Weber
    Nov 14, 2011 at 14:08
  • Sorry, didn't spot the link you added. Now I wish TechNet would have more details how such a link should look like. Well, it looks like I'm going to whip up a custom DelegateControl to have a generic solution without messing with the masterpage.
    – Sig Weber
    Nov 14, 2011 at 14:37

You could check if the Style Library still inherits the permission from the site. If it has custom permissions assigned to it. If so, restore the inheritance.

  • Thanks! Checked, but it is set to the default to inherit from the parent SPWeb. Also the style library is not used with the builtin SharePoint themes, which don't work too for anontmous users.
    – Sig Weber
    Nov 14, 2011 at 11:37
  • Sorry, I meant the Theme Gallery. Is the web application extended? Do the anonymous users use the same URL? Nov 14, 2011 at 13:48
  • As mentioned in my original post, the theme gallery is inheriting properly.
    – Sig Weber
    Nov 14, 2011 at 13:53
  • No, the WebApp is not extended and no AAM is used either. As mentioned already, it happens with a simple stock SPWeb without any special config.
    – Sig Weber
    Nov 14, 2011 at 14:04
  • Sorry, I meant AAM is NOT used either.
    – Sig Weber
    Nov 14, 2011 at 14:11

I've had the same problem. In my case, I had set the site for everyone to have "View only" permissions. Once I changed it to "Read only" the theme showed up.

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