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we have a classic team site collection with publishing features enabled + we have a sub-site which does not have the publishing features enabled. now i granted some users Edit permission on the sub-site and Read on the root site. where those users will be able to access the sub-site's site navigation as follow:- enter image description here

and also those users will be able to add new links and chnage the order of the navigation links >> but when they try to submit the site navigation page, they will ger this error:- enter image description here

so its weird that users can access the site navigation + add/remove links but can not submit the changes .. any idea what is going on? Thanks

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It’s the default behavior.

When user has no "Add and Customize Pages" permission on this site, there will be access denied error when saving the navigation changes.

You can copy the Edit permission level and add "Add and Customize Pages" permission, save as a new permission level, then assign to the user.

Or enable Custom Script in the SharePoint Online Admin center.

Reference: Confusing Access Denied and managing Navigation Office 365

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