How to save a SharePoint site as a template

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What does a site template do?

Saving a SharePoint site as a template saves you a time by making it so you don’t have to recreate similar apps (lists and libraries) and views for multiple sites that are mostly the same in structure and function. You can even save a site as template including its content (documents/items) so that you don’t need to re-upload the same content to each (such as blank worksheets, forms, guides, etc. you’ll complete/utilize on each site).

Examples of what to use site templates for

Frequently people might use site templates for project sites, where each project is going to have the same needs for communication and collaboration, and sometimes the same content such as project and budget worksheets or documents. You may also wish to use site templates for regular committee or group work such as annual event or semi-annual review processes and projects where you want a separate site to archive for each regular iteration of the group’s function.

How to create site templates

There are two methods I use to create templates of SharePoint sites. Either via Site Settings, or by simply modifying the URL of the site. Once created using one of the these methods, the template is saved to your site’s solution gallery and available to users creating new sites on the “Custom” tab of site template selection:

Save SharePoint site as template URL modification

To save a site as template, add _layouts/15/savetmpl.aspx to the end of the specific site or subsite’s URL. For example if you wanted Subsite C to be a reusable site template, you’d modify:

WebApp/sites/SiteCollection/SubsiteA/SubsiteB/SubsiteC

to this:

WebApp/sites/SiteCollection/SubsiteA/SubsiteB/SubsiteC/_layouts/15/savetmpl.aspx

Then complete the fields (file name, template name, description, etc.) and choose whether or not the template should include the site’s existing content (documents and items) or if the lists/libraries should be empty on sites created using the template.

If you get the error The “Save site as template” action is not supported on this site, follow these steps then try again.

Save SharePoint site as template via settings

This requires the site to have never had SharePoint Server Publishing (site feature) activated on the site. See next section if it already has.

To save a site as a template via site settings:

1. Click on the settings wheel (upper right corner)

2. Click site settings (if classic) or site information > view all site settings (if modern).

3. Choose Save site as template from under Site Actions

Save site as template option missing from Site settings?

The option is removed when users activate SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure (site collection feature) or SharePoint Server Publishing (site feature). You can still activate the “save site as template” ability separately via PowerShell for the site then follow the steps for URL modification above to get to the “Save as template” form.

The “Save site as template” action is not supported on this site solution for SharePoint 2013/2016/2019

My preferred way of creating a new site template from an existing site or subsite is just appending _layouts/15/savetmpl.aspx to the end of the site’s URL. However if saving sites as templates isn’t enabled for the site from which you’re creating a template, you’ll get the following error:

The “Save site as template” action is not supported on this site.

This error is just referring to a site property known as SaveSiteAsTemplateEnabled currently set to false.

This can be remedied (property changed to true) with a little bit of PowerShell ran on a SharePoint server. Run PowerShell as an administrator then run the following script, replacing the site URL with your own site or subsite’s URL.

Add-PSSnapin "Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell"
$web = Get-SPWeb https://WebApp/sites/SubsiteIfApplicable
$web.AllProperties["SaveSiteAsTemplateEnabled"] = "true"
$web.Update()

Once it completes, attempt to save the site as template again. You should now be able to proceed with saving the SharePoint site as template, and see the fields shown below:

Screenshot of a SharePoint site’s “Save as template” form fields.

Note that if a user activates the site collection feature SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure or the site feature SharePoint Server Publishing, you’ll need to run the PowerShell command again because activating those features includes disabling the SaveSiteAsTemplateEnabled property.

Where to find a SharePoint site’s solution gallery

A SharePoint site’s solution gallery is where you’ll find custom apps or lists and sites saved as templates to be used throughout the site collection by those with appropriate permissions. The SharePoint solution gallery exists at site collection root/top levels only (so you won’t find a separate solution gallery for subsites, just their shared top-level parent site).

There are three common ways you might get to the SharePoint solution gallery for a particular site collection. In this post, I’ll cover these three methods:

  • via URL modification
  • via modern experience settings wheel
  • via classic experience settings wheel

Navigate to SharePoint solution gallery via URL modification

I prefer this method as it remains the same regardless of whether you’re currently on a modern or classic experience page. To get to the solution gallery for a site collection, simply modify the URL of the site you’re on to replace everything after the site collection’s URL with the following:

/_catalogs/solutions

Append this to your site’s URL to access its solution gallery.

For example, to get to the solution gallery associated with Subsite C, we’d modify this URL:

WebApp/sites/SiteCollection/SubsiteA/SubsiteB/SubsiteC

to this:

WebApp/sites/SiteCollection/_catalogs/solutions

When not working with a site collection (or its subsites), you might be working with your root/home site (http://WebApp/). Just add the same suffix to the URL like http://WebApp/_catalogs/solutions.

You can also find a link to your site collection’s solutions in your site collection settings. In the following two sections, we’ll cover where to find that from a modern or classic experience suite bar.

Navigate to SharePoint solution gallery via modern experience (O365/2019) settings wheel

You’re likely using this modern experience if you’re in SharePoint Online (O365) or SharePoint 2019 which gained the modern experience. Even in O365 or 2019, though, you may find yourself on a classic experience page instead in which case you should check the next section on navigating to the solution gallery via classic experience suite bars.

If you’re on a modern experience page, follow these steps to find the solution gallery:

1. Click on the settings wheel (upper right corner)

2. Click on Site Information > View all site settings.

3. Look for and select Solutions under Web Designer Galleries.

Navigate to SharePoint solution gallery via classic experience settings wheel

If you’re on SharePoint 2013/2016 or a classic experience page on more recent versions you’ll have a slightly different experience finding the solution gallery:

1. Click on the settings wheel

2. Click Site settings.

3. Look for and select Solutions under Web Designer Galleries.

Web Designer Galleries > Solutions option missing?

If you don’t see Web Designer Galleries > Solutions setting, you’re most likely looking at the Site settings page for a subsite and not a site collection. Just click the Go to top level site settings link under Site Collection Administration (requires appropriate permissions). Then go back to step 3.

Read vs Restricted Read vs View Only Permission in SharePoint

I recently had a SharePoint admin assigning Restricted Read permissions to users and out of curiosity wanted to refresh my memory on what distinguishes Read from Restricted Read. While I was at it, I took a look at View Only as well.

Basically, Read and View Only are nearly identical. The only distinction is that Read can download documents, while View Only can only open them and view them in the browser.

Restricted Read is minimally permissive, and doesn’t include the ability to create alerts, view versions, download, or exercise some site abilities (see table below for specifics).

You’ll also notice in the table below that View Only can Open, but not Open Items like Read. According to documentation, the difference is this:

  • Open Items (list permission): “View the source of documents with server-side file handlers.” Requires Open permission:
  • Open (site permission): “Enables users to open a website, list, or folder to access items inside that container.”

In the table below, list permissions are blue and site permissions are red. Download Documents is not a listed permission, but added for clarity to distinguish Read and View Only.

View OnlyRestricted ReadRead
Browse User Information XX
Create Alerts XX
Download DocumentsX
OpenXXX
Open ItemsXX
Use Client Integration Features XX
Use Remote Interfaces XX
Use Self Service Site Creation XX
View Application PagesXX
View Items XXX
View Pages XXX
View Versions XX
Permissions comparison matrix for read, restricted read, and view only in SharePoint.

Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/sites/user-permissions-and-permission-levels

Solution: “The server was unable to save the form at this time. Please try again.” error for individual SharePoint users

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As with most errors, there’s no single cause when it comes to “The server was unable to save the form at this time. Please try again.”

However, if the error is occurring for random/specific users and not everyone in your organization it’s most often just a permissions mismatch. If my solution below doesn’t solve your issue, scroll down further for other potential causes.

Solution

Make sure users granted library/list-specific permissions also have read access to the hosting site.

I see this error most often when a user is granted permissions to contribute to a SharePoint list or library, but doesn’t have any permissions at the site level. In other words, someone isn’t a member (edit) or visitor (read) of the site hosting a list or library to which they’ve been granted permissions.

The simplest fix is to create a new permissions group at the site level and give it read access to the site but edit or contribute permissions to the list/library. Or if you’re already putting users in a SharePoint permissions group to edit the specific list/library, just grant that same group read permissions at the site level.

For example, if you need to create a new group:

  1. Go to site settings > site permissions.
  2. Click Create Group.
  3. Name it, then be sure to select “Read” from the checkbox selection at the bottom.
  4. Add members (the individuals to whom you’d been granting access to the list/library who are getting the error).
  5. Go to the list or library settings > permissions for the list/library.
  6. Grant permissions > Add the new group and select contribute (or whichever level you’d been granting the individual users).

Or if you’re already putting users in a group for the list permissions, just go to site settings > site permissions and add that same group with read permissions.

Other causes/ideas

Some users also report adding “use remote interfaces” to a read permission level when working with broken permissions to fix this issue. I haven’t had to do this, but my issues so far have only been general lists and don’t involve folders.

Check out these other resources if the above solution doesn’t solve your problem:

MS-500 Microsoft 365 Security Administration Exam Study Guide

This summer, Microsoft announced changes to the MS-500 exam objectives. Below you’ll find the updated listing for June 2020 and beyond with links to relevant documentation. The best way to use this study guide is to find the topics you’re least familiar with and focus on those. In any remaining time, you can always review those you’re familiar with to make sure nothing has changed significantly.

As stated on the MS-500 exam page, potential candidates for the MS-500 exam implement, manage and monitor security and compliance solutions for Microsoft 365 and hybrid environments. Professionals familiar with the content of the exam are well-positioned to secure their Microsoft 365 environments by responding to threats, performing investigations, enforcing data governance, and collaborating with other enterprise professionals on security and compliance topics.

Register for the MS-500 exam

Skills measured

  • Implement and manage identity and access (30-35%)
  • Implement and manage threat protection (20-25%)
  • Implement and manage information protection (15-20%)
  • Manage governance and compliance features in Microsoft 365 (20-25%)

MS-500 Study Guides

Objectives with online documentation for study

Implement and manage identity and access (30-35%)

Secure Microsoft 365 hybrid environments

Secure Identities

Implement authentication methods

Implement conditional access

Implement role-based access control (RBAC)

Implement Azure AD Privileged Identity Management (PIM)

Implement Azure AD Identity Protection

Implement and manage threat protection (20-25%)

Implement an enterprise hybrid threat protection solution

Implement device threat protection

Implement and manage device and application protection

Implement and manage Office 365 ATP

Implement Azure Sentinel for Microsoft 365

Implement and manage information protection (15-20%)

Secure data access within Office 365

Manage Azure information Protection (AIP)

Manage Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Implement and manage Microsoft Cloud App Security

Manage governance and compliance features in Microsoft 365 (25-30%)

Configure and analyze security reporting

Center

Center

Manage and analyze audit logs and reports

Manage data governance and retention

Manage search and investigation

Manage data privacy regulation compliance