Where are all the documents?

Using ‘Copy link’ in SharePoint Online and creating unique permissions

It’s not uncommon to add a document link to an email or on a SharePoint page.

This is fairly straightforward – go to the library, select the document, and click ‘Copy link’ in the menu.

Microsoft has documented the various options for links (shown below) but has not specifically outlined the potential hazards regarding permissions.

Copy link and missing documents

One of our clients had been using the copy link feature to share documents in a modern library.

After sharing many document links they decided to alter the permissions on the library. They gave the library unique permissions, added additional people to the library, but then found not all documents were visible to the newly added users.

Checking the permissions on the library found the warning, ‘Some items in this list may have unique permissions’. Clicking on ‘Show these items’ listed all the documents with unique permissions, which were all the documents that had been shared through ‘Copy link’.

We’ve experimented with all of the options in the ‘Copy link’ drop-down but they all create unique permissions.

There is no magic bullet here, but you can easily make a document re-inherit the library permissions to fix this issue.

So if someone can’t see all of the documents in a library, consider the sharing problem and check for unique permissions using ‘Library settings’ > ‘Permissions for this document library’.