I want to know what difference is 'Site Master Page' and 'System Master Page'. I find it here in this tutorial.

2 Answers 2


Site Master Page - This is a custom master page and applies to all Publishing Pages.

System Master Page - This is a default master page and applies to all pages including view pages, forms and web part pages.

To use the Site Master page in a pages, the MasterPageFile setting should be "~masterurl/custom.master"

To use the System Master Page in a pages, the MasterPageFile setting should be "~masterurl/default.master"


Site Master page is the default master page you and your end users will see in your your site collection. System master page is the master page used in the Sharepoint system pages like in 'Site settings' (mostly the sharepoint pages in the Layouts folder).

If you go to /_Layouts/ChangeSiteMasterPage.aspx of your site collection and change the system and site masterpages to alternate masterpages, you'll see the difference.

go to http://yoursite.com/ : this is using the Site Masterpage

go to http://yoursite.com/_layouts/settings.aspx : this is using the System master page

  • "mostly the sharepoint pages in the Layouts folder" are application pages, so System master page is for application pages ?
    – Developer
    Apr 4, 2013 at 9:43
  • Not necessarily. If you create a custom application page, you specify the masterpage to use in the 'Page' directive: <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="blabla.aspx.cs" Inherits="namespace.blabla" DynamicMasterPageFile="~masterurl/default.master" %>
    – Ralph W
    Apr 4, 2013 at 9:45
  • All Sharepoint application pages use the 'DynamicMasterPageFile="~masterurl/default.master"' in the page directive which is why pages like 'settings.aspx' use systems master page. If you go to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS' and open the aspx pages there you'll see it.
    – Ralph W
    Apr 4, 2013 at 9:53
  • why all application pages use 'DynamicMasterPageFile="~masterurl/default.master"
    – Developer
    Apr 4, 2013 at 9:55
  • When you install Sharepoint, thats the default masterpage... which you can then change by changing the Systems master page
    – Ralph W
    Apr 4, 2013 at 10:03

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