Solution: SharePoint site owner with full control unable to approve access requests; site is missing a default members group

In this post I’ll cover two symptoms commonly seen when subsites evolve from inheriting permissions (using existing groups) to being given unique permissions (having their own groups at the site’s level).

Symptoms

  • A site owner with full control gets “Sorry, this site hasn’t been shared with you” when trying to approve access requests.
  • When reviewing Access Request Settings, a user or owner sees the message “Members cannot share this site because this site is missing a default members group.”

Cause

Chances are the site was never set up with default, unique permissions groups. Perhaps the creator of the site chose to inherit permissions from the parent (using existing groups from a hierarchical level higher than the new site), then later decided to manually build out groups that resemble the traditional visitors, members, and owners groups at the new site’s level. Or perhaps the default groups were deleted. Either way, the following solution should set it straight:

Solution

We need to either officially designate or build new default groups for the site, using the same dialog you see when creating a new site. Since we can’t “reconfigure” the site with a wizard, we need to manipulate the site’s URL a bit to get to the configuration screen we’re looking for.

Add “_layouts/15/permsetup.aspx” to the end of the site URL. For example, it may resemble sharepoint.contoso.com/sites/ABC/EA/_layouts/15/permsetup.aspx. This takes you to the permissions setup page.

IF YOU HAVE GROUPS YOU WANT TO SET AS THE DEFAULTS

Perhaps after site creation, you created groups intended to be used like the visitors, members, and owners groups. Go to your site’s _layouts/15/permsetup.aspx page and simply:

Leave “Use an existing group” selected, and change the dropdown for each to the groups that were created and intended to be the new defaults. Click OK when finished. This will make them “official.”

IF YOU DON’T HAVE GROUPS YOU WANT TO SET AS DEFAULT

Change “Use an existing group” to “Create a new group” for at least the Members and Owners options. Here you can add the appropriate persons to each group, or add them at a later time via Site Settings > Site Permissions. Be sure to add your owners (approvers/permissions managers) to the new owner group.

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.

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

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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:

Solution: Searching by ID column in SharePoint list not working

I had an issue come up today where a user wanted to search a SharePoint list by the default ID column.

Problem:
The ID column cannot be indexed and is not searchable using just the ID number itself.

Solution:
You can still search ID numbers in lists if you include the proper Keyword Query Language (KQL) syntax. Format your search as ListItemID:3 (replacing 3 with your own ID number, of course) and it will work.

And yes, this works in both modern and classic list search experiences and in SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online/O365.

Solution: PerformancePoint Dashboard Designer “Cannot download the application…missing required files”

I’m late to the game trying out PerformancePoint Services, a has-been dashboard and KPI service for SharePoint server that still exists in production for many on-prem farms running 2013/2016/2019. I’d venture to guess most would prefer the more modern and flexible Power BI (either Report Server or the online service via O365) to PerformancePoint Services but, alas, change takes time.

So, anyway, when I tried to open Dashboard Designer on a PerformancePoint list for the first time, I received the following error.

Cannot Start Application

Cannot download the application. The application is missing required files. Contact application vendor for assistance.

I had tried to open Dashboard Designer using Chrome and CrEdge (Chromium Edge) without luck. The downloaded designer.application file just gave me the issue seen above.

In the end I found, as with most dated tools and functions in the SharePoint world, some things only work in Internet Explorer (IE). This particular button, however, worked in both IE and Edge!

So copy your list’s URL, move over to Edge or IE, and try to launch it again from there. This worked well for me. Good luck!

Solution: Column validation error “Sorry, something went wrong. The formula cannot refer to another column.” when referencing today’s date

If you’re trying to create column validation using [Today], you’ll likely get the following error:

Sorry, something went wrong. The formula cannot refer to another column. Check the formula for spelling mistakes or update the formula to reference only this column.

Commit this to memory: when [Today] or Today fails in a formula, try Today().

While [Today] may work in list view filters, it’s not the correct format for column validation or calculated columns. You can, instead, use Today() for column validation.

For example, you could use EndDate<=Today() to require users to enter an EndDate that is on or before the date of submission.

Note that if you’re creating column validation through the modern UI, you’ll need to start validation formulas with an equals sign.

Possible solution: “Sorry, something went wrong. The file is locked for exclusive use by…”

I recently ran into the following error when someone tried to edit a shared Excel file from OneDrive (we’re running SharePoint Server 2016).

“Sorry, something went wrong. The file {address} is locked for exclusive use by {name}.”

Troubleshooting

The user in question, who had it “locked for use,” had the file open in Excel (client, not online) when their computer unexpectedly shut down. This locked others from editing the file. The first few things you should try (stop if one of the steps fixes the issue):

  1. If the user still has it open, have them save and close out. If it really was checked out, check it in with their account.
  2. Make sure the user who has it locked has closed all office apps (Task Manager is a good way to see if anything is running in the background)
  3. Have that user restart their machine used to edit the file in the first place for good measure
  4. You can try waiting a day to see if the lock lifts overnight or after a few hours.

What worked for me

Now that you’ve confirmed the individual who had the file locked can’t really have it open or locked, you can try the solution that worked for me. At the bottom of this post, I’ve listed more ideas I tried that might work for you.

  1. Open the user’s OneDrive in SharePoint Designer (the address may resemble https://mysites.COMPANY.org/personal/USERNAME)
  2. Navigate via “All Files” via the left nav to the file in question. It probably has a padlock icon on it.
  3. Right-click the file name and select “Edit File in Advanced Mode”
  4. Save the file in SharePoint Designer.

I can’t explain why this worked, I know it’s completely illogical, but it worked.

Here’s a thread on SharePoint’s user voice regarding this error.

What might work for you

Here are some things you can try that were not successful for me (but might work for you):

  • I tried copying the file and deleting the original but could not delete it (in browser, PowerShell, or SharePoint Designer)
  • I tried this PowerShell solution and it told me who had it “checked out,” and when it would expire which was helpful, but it was unable to release the lock
    • P.S. I waited for the expiration, but it renewed itself
  • I tried checking it in via browser and SharePoint Designer (because it appeared checked out) but got a message saying it wasn’t
    Click to enlarge
  • From the owner’s OneDrive (where the file was stored/created) I disabled check-out requirement via Site Contents –> Library Settings –> Versioning settings
    Click to enlarge

Solution: “The embed code is invalid because the source of the embed content is not allowed” error when embedding Microsoft Stream video in SharePoint

A user recently ran into the following error when attempting to embed a Microsoft Stream video on a SharePoint 2016 site:

“The embed code is invalid because the source of the embed content is not allowed.”

To resolve this, you must be a site collection administrator.

Go to site settings and select “HTML Field Security” under “Site Collection Administration.”

By default, SharePoint allows embeds from YouTube, Bing, Vimeo, and Microsoft but we need to add web.microsoftstream.com to the list.

Now try to embed your video again, and it will work.

How to increase lookup column limit in SharePoint lists

Lookup columns include workflow status columns, traditional lookup columns to other lists, and person/group columns. This includes the two default people fields “Created by” and “Modified by”. If your list has more than 12 of these, you may receive the following error:

“This view cannot be displayed because the number of lookup and workflow status columns it contains exceeds the threshold (12) enforced by the administrator.”

list view threshold.PNGIn SharePoint Online, you’re not able to increase the lookup column limit. Lists created prior to the June 2013 CU update are capped at 8 lookup columns, while those afterward are allowed 12.

However, on-premise SharePoint (server) allows you to change this limit to your heart’s content.

Continue reading “How to increase lookup column limit in SharePoint lists”

Solution: “The user who attempted to complete the task is not the user to whom the task is assigned”

You might run into this issue when running task processes in SharePoint Designer.

“Reason: The user who attempted to complete the task is not the user to whom the task is assigned.”

Assuming the person should actually be able to complete the task, check the following:

  • Make sure the user who was assigned the task does not have multiple accounts. If they do, the task could have been assigned to the account that the person isn’t currently signed in as when attempting to complete the task.
  • If it’s someone completing the task on behalf of another, make sure that individual is either:
    • A Site Owner (site settings, site permissions, people and groups, site owners) or
    • Task process owner (in SPD 2010 workflows, go to the properties for the task step and set task process owner. Click OK and republish workflow.):