When I open a site in SPD2010, and right-click a master page and choose "Set as default master page", it does not change the site at all. Shouldn't it do that?

  • I am having the same issue! Checked in and all settings are good seemingly. I am site collection admin and no change to site at all when I set the custom master page to be the site master page. Probably need to set it to custom in SD AND then set it as the Site Master page. SharePoint is quirkier like that. Coming to hate all the stupid little nuances of this software.
    – user9518
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 21:02

3 Answers 3


In SPD, From the ribbon, in the Actions group you can click either Set as Default or Set as Custom.

These options correspond to the System and Site Master Pages, respectively.

So, make sure your changes in master page are checked in and published and select "Set As Custom" from ribbon

Also, since you are using Publishing site template, you can click Site Actions -> Site Settings, and then under Look and Feel, click Master page. Here you can change both system as well as site master page.


It depends if the masterpage contains different content and can show a difference. When you did change the masterpage make sure you save it before setting it as default masterpage.

You can test this easily bij copying the v4.master, change the copied file, e.g. add some text in PlaceHolderSiteName, save the masterpage and set as default. Now you have to see the text added to the site title.

  • Hi - thank you for your reply. I took a copy of the nightanddaymaster, added some navigation at the top, and set it to be the default master page from within SPD 2010. In the site I see that the System Master page is changed, but not the Site Master page. I am using a publishing portal.
    – NCCadm
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 11:14
  • Does anyone have any idea why, in SPD2010, "Set as default master page" changes the System Master page but not the Site Master page? I am using a publishing portal.
    – NCCadm
    Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 15:23
  • bumping this...
    – NCCadm
    Commented Feb 26, 2011 at 12:50

Have you checked in the file? Any non-admin user won't see any changes until the masterpage is checked in and published to a major version (i.e. 1.0, 20.0 etc.)

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