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I am a Sharepoint Administrator, I have permissions to create new sites, edit navigation, switch Features on/off etc.

I've been reading this MS page (amongst other resources).

MS say this:

pic of MS advice for editing the top bar navigation

I have a modern SP Online 'Communications' site that is not a hub site. It is not associated with a hub site either. I'd like to add some navigation to it's top bar. Is this possible?

(I've read that Teams sites cannot have the top bar navigation, but my site is not a Teams sites).

Below are screen shots of two of my sites:

pic of two sites, one that has top bar navigation (it's a hub site), the other site has no nav options

PS: I've used the 'top-navigation' tag, but that almost looks as though it does not apply to Sharepoint Online. If so, perhaps the tag needs redefining to exclude Sharepoint Online?

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This is not possible using SharePoint online out of the box capabilities.

You have to develop the Application customizer SPFx extension to add the links at the top of page.

You can use page placeholders from Application Customizer.

Below are some SPFx extension samples to get started with:

  1. Tenant Global NavBar Application Customizer

    enter image description here

  2. Modern Team Sites (Office Groups) Navigation Application Customizer

    enter image description here

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