I just want to preface this question with the fact that I am quite new to SharePoint administration and, up until now, it has only been in SharePoint 2010. I have just discovered that one of the sites I am responsible for is a SharePoint 2007 implementation and I need to make a change to the master page that the site is using. I have found what master page is being used and I want to make some changes to it but I don't have SharePoint designer installed on the server where the SharePoint site is being hosted.

My questions are these . . . Should I install SharePoint Designer 2007 on the server and perform the edits from there or should I install it on my development machine and perform the edits remotely? I will admit that this option gives me pause. I am not sure that I can get all of the network security settings in place that will allow this to happen remotely even if it is possible.

Do I need to use SharePoint Designer 2007 or will SharePoint Designer 2010 work for a 2007 implementation?

Is there a way to edit the master page without using SharePoint Designer or some other third party tool? Can it be done from within the web interface? My changes are very small. Just some link captions and such.

Thanks, Doug

3 Answers 3


It is possible to use SPDesigner remotely. And you have a few other options.

But Masterpages live at a document library at http://sitecollection/_catalogs/masterpage, you can simply download the masterpage, make a change, and upload it again. There are three ways of deploying a masterpage:

  1. A module in a wsp solution (Farm Solutions at Central Admin) likely built in Visual Studio
  2. Directly uploading it to the location above
  3. Using SPDesigner to create/upload/modify it

Note that options 2 and 3 essentially have no difference. So people will use SPDesigner out of convenience since it is just big FTP-like editor with a twist (the twist being the tight integration with sharepoint, but not for masterpages, those are just files).

The correct course of action depends, and the most recommended would be to simply do the way it was done before, so if you have a Farm Solution deploying it -- would be better to get your hands in the source and repackage the changes. Otherwise simply use SPDesigner or download the file in the _catalogs/masterpage library, make your changes and reupload.

  • Thanks for the post. I will definitely look into it from this angle. Fortunately, although I have little SharePoint experience, I have been writing web applications with .Net since the first beta came out in 2002 so I at least have that going for me.
    – dscarr
    Jan 30, 2013 at 18:03

If you are looking to make subtle changes to your master page you could just edit it in Notepad++. But goign forward, I'd recommend installing Sharepoint Designer 2007 (I think 2010 should be good too) as its free and is good enough to edit and modify master pages.

You should be able to make theses changes regardless of whether you have SPD installed on the Development server or your local machine.

Do however note that, if you happen to have a custom branding solution deplyed using a .wsp file then your changes in SPD will not reflect and you will have to remember to update the .wsp solution as well.

  • It is entirely possible that this site is using a custom branding solution. What would be the easiest way to tell?
    – dscarr
    Jan 30, 2013 at 16:00
  • If any, You should be able to spot it under Site Settings>>Site Collection Administration>>Site Collection Features Isnt there any docuemntation on the Sharepoint Environment setup?
    – user7400
    Jan 30, 2013 at 16:03
  • Another way to check is to go to Central Administration>>System Settings>>Farm Management>>manage Farm Solutions..This would list all the solutions that have been deployed across the farm and their scope as well.
    – user7400
    Jan 30, 2013 at 16:13
  • If there is any documentation there is no one at this institution that knows where it would be. This site was built by a consulting company and they have employed many complex customization's. I am even seeing their branding on the Central Admin site. The entire staff that managed this site and was here when the site was implemented has been "let go" for some pretty serious infractions of rules, not to mention common sense. I am preparing to start pushing the buttons to get the consulting company involved in order to get my knowledge up to where I can actually manage this thing.
    – dscarr
    Jan 30, 2013 at 16:37
  • Ha sure I know how it is...You'd surely want to get Visual Studio 2012 down the road, if you dont already have it. Good luck!
    – user7400
    Jan 30, 2013 at 16:47

Based on everything posted thus far, it sounds like you really need to get your hands on the Source Code that was used to build the site, which will also require Visual Studio in order to rebuild the solution.

If your situation is anything like the one I was asked to rebuild a few years ago, it may require legal action in order to get the vendor to release the source code, and even then they might not provide all of it. In our case, I had to analyze the entire SharePoint site and provide the lawyers with an explicit list of everything we needed from them, by name, in order to get them to release the code. Not a fun experience.

  • Wow . . . sounds like it. I hope we don't have to go that route. My understanding is we are on good terms with the company and they are a global SharePoint consulting company so I'm sure we can come to an agreement . . . somehow :-)
    – dscarr
    Jan 30, 2013 at 18:00

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