Apply Information Rights Management (IRM) to a list or library

Note

Microsoft 365 compliance is now called Microsoft Purview and the solutions within the compliance area have been rebranded. For more information about Microsoft Purview, see the blog announcement and the What is Microsoft Purview? article.

You can use Information Rights Management (IRM) to help control and protect files that are downloaded from lists or libraries. This feature is only supported in the Microsoft global cloud. IRM is not supported for SharePoint lists and libraries in national cloud deployments.

Administrator preparations before applying IRM

  • The Azure Rights Management service (Azure RMS) from Azure Information Protection, and the on-premises equivalent, Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS), support Information Rights Management for sites. No separate or additional installations are required.

  • Before you apply IRM to a list or library, you need to enable IRM for your site. You'll need administrator permissions to enable IRM.

  • To apply IRM to a list or library, you must have administrator permissions for that list or library.

  • If you're using SharePoint Online, your users might experience timeouts when downloading larger IRM-protected files. To avoid timeouts, use your Office programs to apply IRM protection, and store larger files in a SharePoint library that doesn't use IRM.

Note

If you're using SharePoint Server 2013, a server administrator must install protectors on all front-end Web servers for every file type that the people in your organization want to protect by using IRM.

Apply IRM to a list or library

Information Rights Management Settings.

  1. Go to the list or library for which you want to configure IRM.

  2. On the ribbon, select the Library tab, and then select Library Settings. (If you're working in a list, select the List tab, and then select List Settings).

    SharePoint Library Settings buttons on Ribbon.

  3. Under Permissions and Management, select Information Rights Management. If the Information Rights Management link doesn't appear, IRM might not be enabled for your site. Contact your server administrator to see if you can enable IRM for your site. The Information Rights Management link doesn't appear for picture libraries.

  4. On the Information Rights Management Settings page, select the Restrict permission to documents in this library on download check box to apply restricted permission to documents users download from this list or library.

  5. In the Create a permission policy title box, enter a descriptive name for the policy. Use a name that helps you identify this policy from other policies. For example, use Company Confidential to apply restricted permissions to a list or library that contains confidential company documents.

  6. In the Add a permission policy description box, type a description that will appear to people who use this list or library that explains how they should handle the documents in this list or library. For example, you can type Discuss the contents of this document only with other employees if you want to restrict access to the information in these documents to internal employees.

  7. To apply additional restrictions to the documents in this list or library, select Show Options, and do any of the following:

To do this: Do this:
Allow people to print documents from this list or library Select the Allow viewers to print check box.
Allow people with at least the View Items permission to run embedded code or macros on a document. Select the Allow viewers to run script and screen reader to function on downloaded documents check box.If you select this option, users could run code to extract the contents of a document.
Select this option if you want to restrict access to content to a specified period of time. If you select this option, people's issuance licenses to access the content will expire after the specified number of days, and people will be required to return to the server to verify their credentials and download a new copy. Select the After download, document access rights will expire after these number of days (1-365) check box, and then specify the number of days for which you want the document to be viewable.
Prevent people from uploading documents that do not support IRM to this list or library. If you select this option, people will not be able to upload any of the following file types: File types that do not have corresponding IRM protectors installed on all of the front-end web servers. File types that SharePoint Server 2010 cannot decrypt. File types that are IRM protected in another program. Select the Do not allow users to upload documents that do not support IRM check box.
Remove restricted permissions from this list or library on a specific date. Select the Stop restricting access to the library at check box, and then select the date that you want.
Control the interval that credentials are cached for the program that is licensed to open the document. Select the Users must verify their credentials using this interval (days) check box, then enter the interval for caching credentials in number of days.
Allow group protection so that users can share with members of the same group. Select Allow group protection, and enter the group's name for sharing.
  1. After you finish selecting the options you want, select OK.

What is Information Rights Management?

Information Rights Management (IRM) enables you to limit the actions that users can take on files that have been downloaded from lists or libraries. IRM encrypts the downloaded files and limits the set of users and programs that are allowed to decrypt these files. IRM can also limit the rights of the users who are allowed to read files, so that they cannot take actions such as print copies of the files or copy text from them.

You can use IRM on lists or libraries to limit the dissemination of sensitive content. For example, if you are creating a document library to share information about upcoming products with selected marketing representatives, you can use IRM to prevent these individuals from sharing this content with other employees in the company.

On a site, you apply IRM to an entire list or library, rather than to individual files. This makes it easier to ensure a consistent level of protection for an entire set of documents or files. IRM can thus help your organization to enforce corporate policies that govern the use and dissemination of confidential or proprietary information.

Note

The information on this page regarding Information Rights Management supersedes any terms that reference 'Information Rights Management' in any Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Server 2016 license term agreements.

How IRM can help protect content

IRM helps to protect restricted content in the following ways:

  • Helps to prevent an authorized viewer from copying, modifying, printing, faxing, or copying and pasting the content for unauthorized use

  • Helps to prevent an authorized viewer from copying the content by using the Print Screen feature in Microsoft Windows

  • Helps to prevent an unauthorized viewer from viewing the content if it is sent in e-mail after it is downloaded from the server

  • Restricts access to content to a specified period of time, after which users must confirm their credentials and download the content again

  • Helps to enforce corporate policies that govern the use and dissemination of content within your organization

How IRM cannot help protect content

IRM cannot protect restricted content from the following:

  • Erasure, theft, capture, or transmission by malicious programs such as Trojan horses, keystroke loggers, and certain types of spyware

  • Loss or corruption because of the actions of computer viruses

  • Manual copying or retyping of content from the display on a screen

  • Digital or film photography of content that is displayed on a screen

  • Copying through the use of third-party screen-capture programs

  • Copying of content metadata (column values) through the use of third-party screen-capture programs or copy-and-paste action

How IRM works for lists and libraries

IRM protection is applied to files at the list or library level. When IRM is enabled for a library, rights management applies to all of the files in that library. When IRM is enabled for a list, rights management applies only to files that are attached to list items, not the actual list items.

When people download files in an IRM-enabled list or library, the files are encrypted so that only authorized people can view them. Each rights-managed file also contains an issuance license that imposes restrictions on the people who view the file. Typical restrictions include making a file read-only, disabling the copying of text, preventing people from saving a local copy, and preventing people from printing the file. Client programs that can read IRM-supported file types use the issuance license within the rights-managed file to enforce these restrictions. This is how a rights-managed file retains its protection even after it is downloaded from the server.

The types of restrictions that are applied to a file when it is downloaded from a list or library are based on the individual user's permissions on the site that contains the file. The following table explains how the permissions on sites correspond to IRM permissions.

Permissions IRM Permissions
Manage Permissions, Manage Web Site Full control (as defined by the client program): This permission generally allows a user to read, edit, copy, save, and modify permissions of rights-managed content.
Edit Items, Manage Lists, Add and Customize Pages Edit, Copy, and Save: A user can print a file only if the Allow users to print documents check box is selected on the Information Rights Management Settings page for the list or library.
View Items Read: A user can read the document, but cannot copy or modify its content. A user can print only if the Allow users to print documents check box is selected on the Information Rights Management Settings page for the list or library.
Other No other permissions correspond directly to IRM permissions.

When you enable IRM for a list or library in SharePoint Server 2013, you can only protect file types in that list or library for which a protector is installed on all front-end web servers. A protector is a program that controls the encryption and decryption of rights-managed files of a specific file format. SharePoint includes protectors for the following file types:

  • Microsoft Office InfoPath forms

  • The 97-2003 file formats for the following Microsoft Office programs: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

  • The Office Open XML Formats for the following Microsoft Office programs: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

  • The XML Paper Specification (XPS) format

If your organization plans to use IRM to protect any other file types in addition to those listed above, your server administrator must install protectors for these additional file formats.