Sharepoint 2013 after importing a Design Package the users receive "The user does not have permissions"

A new neat feature in Sharepoint 2013 is the Design Manager. A quick and easy way to create Design Packages ( what previously one should have done through features and solutions) and be an answer to the branding demands for both on premise Sharepoint installs as well as for O365. Read more here:

Overview of Design Manager in Sharepoint 2013 -


However, not so obvious is the following behavior after importing the package so I thought I'd describe the behavior for those (like me ) running into this.

Scenario is rather simple, All of a sudden the users start complaining that they no longer can access the sites.

The error message is not a friendly one like you would expect :


"Let us know why you need to access" - if Access Requests are enabled  or

"Sorry, you do not have access to this page" and a nice message box to send to the site admin.


What you would get is an "Access Denied" - username "does not have permissions to access this resource" - with the ideas to contact the site admin or use a different account , and a correlation ID to investigate.


If you get the correlation ID and scout in ULS logs you may see entries like:

SharePoint Foundation General 8xfr Medium PermissionMask check failed for {GUID}. Asking for 0x00040000, have .... on requests for /_layouts/15/start.aspx and /_layouts/15/AccessDenied.aspx


Now this is the thing that makes me go hmmm. ...usually the requests for AccessDenied.aspx should work fine without the user having to have any special permission masks and the users COULD access the site fine ,  so what happened?

As you are aware, all the pages in Sharepoint will use a certain master page and layout which needs resources to display the content properly.



If a Sharepoint Design item (Masterpage,Layout, Image,Style etc) is in a Draft state, it can only be accessed by Administrator or Designer Roles.

Now back to our topic, if you imported a design package and users start complaining that they suddenly cannot access the site, the first thing you need to check is if the master page applied to the site is published.

You (as yours truly) are probably used to mange the master page publishing and approval through the master pages library.

However, if a master page is part of a design package, it will be locked by the design manager and attempting to perform any operation on it through the Master pages library will result in :


Sorry, something went wrong

This file may not be moved, deleted, renamed, or otherwise edited.


However, the operations WILL succeed if you manage the file through the Design Manager. Switch to Design Manager page and click on Edit Master Pages.

Check if they are published and approved ( if they are Drafts, make sure you publish and approve them )

To find out what master page is applied you would need to go to Publish and Apply Design menu entry.

The access issue should be now solved.




Now at the end of the post I want to draw your attention to a very important aspect of Design Manager i.e. the fine print in the page:

SharePoint 2013 Design Manager design packages (here bigger and bolded):

In SharePoint 2013 you cannot uninstall an imported design package, and you should never attempt to deactivate a design package through the solution gallery.


Words of wisdom one shouldn't ignore like I did. What happened was, I saw the solution in the solution gallery deactivated it and removed it, assuming the design will just revert to what it was before the install.

Big mistake.

Luckily, following the steps in the page I was able to fix the site just fine. However, I had to leave the solution there for now.