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I've got a document library in which I've given some users "Restricted View" permissions since we need to block printing and downloading. I've confirmed that the documents in the library inherit their permissions from the document library. When these users open a Word or Excel file it works fine:

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but opening a PDF gives this:

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Like I said, there are no specific permissions set on the documents themselves. And looking at the access on each document shows these people have "Restricted View" permission on all these files.

I set up a test user with the exact permissions of these users and logged in as that test user in Chrome Incognito mode as well as Internet Explorer. I can open both the PDFs and Office files without any problem.

I noticed in the preview pane it was complaining about IRM:

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What's weird is that I just looked in the library settings and IRM is turned off.

The real question is why is IRM in play here at all... Any better ideas?

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  • I would just add that I experimented with other permissions, and Restricted View is the one that I need: it effectively blocks all printing and downloading. But despite having turned IRM on and off again (I saw someone suggested trying that) and adding and removing permissions - Office files can still be opened while PDFs trigger an "access denied" error. :( – Eliezer Aug 12 '20 at 20:08
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For the occasionally access denied error, please refer to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/troubleshoot/administration/access-denied-or-need-permission-error-sharepoint-online-or-onedrive-for-business

For the IRM in office online display issue, please refer to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/troubleshoot/administration/office-online-limitations-and-features-with-information-rights-management

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  • I don't think either of those will help. It's not an occasional access denied error, it's consistently access denied on all PDFs whereas all Office documents work just fine. Like I mentioned in my OP, IRM is turned off for this library, so IRM shouldn't be interfering at all. Also, I've checked the permissions on the specific documents: both the Office and PDF documents are inheriting from the library and the users have identical, appropriate permissions on all files. – Eliezer Aug 10 '20 at 16:13
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Create a custom permission level for users that should have Restricted View by following these steps:

  1. Go to Settings and click Site permissions and select Advanced permissions settings.

  2. Select Permission Levels and click Add a Permission Level.

  3. Type in the name of permission level and tick the following permissions which only allow user to view pages, list items and documents but not download.

permissions config image #1 permissions config image #2 permissions config image #3

  1. Save the custom permission level.
  2. Then assign this permission level to the user or group(s) which should be able to view the pages, list items and document but not download.
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Maybe you can fix it by going to the basics. Try renaming the users and if it doesn't happen again try giving them full access and then restricting it back. If not this blog is actually quite helpful at times https://blog.runscrum.io/ check it out if need it.

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  • Klaus, what do you mean "renaming the users"? Their names are pulled from AD and are their ...names. Also, I did try giving them "Full Control" then moving them back to "Restricted View" - same problem. And lastly, was there a specific, pertinent article on your website to which you were referring me? – Eliezer Aug 13 '20 at 15:09

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