Why SharePoint ribbon buttons are unavailable

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The SharePoint ribbon helps you find the commands that you need to complete tasks, but occasionally buttons on the ribbon are greyed out, or unavailable.

When you ask for help on any disabled button, you’ll get this topic. We’ve tried to cover the more common issues, but can’t cover all reasons a button is disabled.

Notes: 

  • If you have a specific issue that’s not covered here, please give a detailed description at the end of this article in the feedback section.
  • We review and update topics based on your comments.

Updated May 3, 2017 thanks to customer feedback.

Problems caused by missing permissions

If you don’t have the proper permissions, some buttons will appear disabled and some buttons won’t work with specific features. If you suspect that you need permissions to enable buttons, see the Access denied section below for info on finding who you need to talk to. For more info on permissions, see Understanding permissions in SharePoint.

Access denied

Notes: 

  • If you’re an end user with issues on your organisation’s specific page or site, such as how to get permissions or why you lost permissions, you need to talk to your site administrator, manager, or in-house IT department. If you’re not sure who to talk to, ask your manager, receptionist, or colleague.
  • If you’re on a public website, contact the owner of the website for more information. Look for “Contact”, “About”, or “Webmaster” page or link. If there isn’t a contact, enter the domain name into a whois registry on the Internet, such as https://whois.icann.org/. This will show you the site owner and should give you the Admin contact of the site.

Permissions are assigned by your administrator. When you try to access a specific page or feature and get an Access Denied error, look for a Request access link on the dialog. Click and fill out the request. Here’s a typical Access Denied dialog with a Request access link:SPO Access denied dialog box.

If you don’t see a Request access link, then that feature may have been disabled. If so, contact your administrator or help desk to request access.

If you have administrator rights see Understanding permission levels.

Retired or discontinued features

With each new version of SharePoint, features are retired, deprecated, or discontinued. In some cases during the transition, a button or link is left in the interface and just disabled. Check these lists for features that may no longer be available.

Retired, deprecated, or discontinued features

Features not completely set up by site administrator

Some features such as Connect to Outlook or Connect to Office require installation on your computer or server set up. The buttons will be there, but additional things need to be done. If you’re using SharePoint Server, you should have Outlook or Office set up on your computer and server set for mail may be required before the buttons are enabled. Check with your manager, site administrator, or IT department for assistance. If you’re an administrator, search help for info on setting up the feature that appears disabled.

Open in Explorer is greyed out

Open in Explorer is a super helpful feature, though under some conditions it doesn’t work. The following are some specific problems and fixes.

For additional troubleshooting and requirements for Open with Explorer, see Copy or move library files by using Open with Explorer.

Open with Explorer and Windows 10

The Open with Explorer button is typically disabled for a browser that doesn’t support ActiveX controls, or an unsupported Operating System.Open with Explorer option selected but not enabled.

In SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business, Open with Explorer is called View in File Explorer, and is under the view button on the toolbar.

Open with Explorer uses ActiveX controls which are only supported in Internet Explorer 11. If you’re using Chrome, FireFox, or the Windows 10 default Microsoft Edge browser, Open with Explorer isn’t supported and is greyed out.

To fix the problem, you need to run Internet Explorer 11. This also ships with Windows 10, but isn’t the default. You can also update to Internet Explorer 11 with earlier versions of Windows.

Start Internet Explorer 11 in Windows 10

  1. Click Start Windows 10 start button .
  2. Type Internet Explorer, and then select Internet Explorer.

To keep SharePoint Online from opening Microsoft Edge when you open pages in the future, change your default browser to Internet Explorer 11.

To change your default browser

  1. In Windows 10, click Start Windows 10 start button , type Default Programmes, and then click Default Programmes.
  2. Under Web browser click Microsoft Edge, and then click Internet Explorer in the Choose an app dialog box.
  3. Close the Choose default apps dialog box.

More issues using Open with Explorer

Here are some other things that can go wrong.

Buttons only work when you’re doing something

Some tabs, groups, and commands on the ribbon are available depending on what you’re doing in SharePoint. The most common issue is the need to select an item before certain buttons are enabled.

Working with files and list items

Depending on the task, you’ll need to select one or more items in your library or list to enable file and list specific buttons.

  • View and Edit properties, Check In or Out, Share or Download a copy buttons are not available in a list or library. You need to select an item or document before these will be enabled. If you select more than one item, some of these will be greyed out again.Before selecting an itemAfter selecting an item
  • You selected a group of documents, and the edit and view buttons are greyed out. These items only work on a single selection. However you can do other commands, such as Check Out.

More resources

Here are some list and library related links that may help you.

You’re editing and renaming pages

When you’re editing a page, such as adding Web Parts or other contents, the SaveSave as, and the Rename page buttons under the Page tab are disabled if you haven’t clicked Edit first.

To enable and save or rename a page, click Edit first. Make your changes, and then click SaveSave as, or Rename.

Alert, connect, and Quick Edit

Here are some things that cause these buttons to be disabled.

Connect to Office or Connect to Outlook buttons are missing or disabled

Make sure you have Microsoft 365 with the specific apps installed, and are the latest versions.

The Alert Me or RSS buttons aren’t enabled

These features need to be enabled by your site administrator, manager, or owner.

For more info on Alerts and RSS feeds, see Create an alert or subscribe to an RSS feed

Quick Edit button isn’t enabled

If you’re on a page with several Web Parts, try clicking the library or list you want to edit and then try the Quick Edit button again.

The Quick Edit button isn’t enabled in certain list views

This can happen if the view isn’t the default. Here are some possible fixes.

  • Use or create a view that uses the Default view style for the list. Select LIBRARY or List and then click Modify View. In the Style section of the Edit View page, select Default and then OK. For more info, see Create, change, or delete a view of a list or library.Note: This method affects the way the view is displayed on the page
  • Use the Datasheet View in the Current View section of the Library or List tab on the ribbon. The Datasheet View allows for inline editing of list items.

Problems caused by missing permissions

If you don’t have the proper permissions, some buttons will appear disabled or not visible and some buttons won’t work with specific features.

Access denied

Why some buttons are enabled, just not visible

You can be in the right area with the right permissions but some buttons don’t seem to appear. Here are some more reasons that buttons are not visible:

You have the screen size reduced which makes the ribbon smaller than full size

Some sections of the ribbon compress down to a single button with a drop down. To view other options you need to click the arrow next to the button and expand the drop down. See I am not seeing the ribbon items described in the Help articles for more info.

The site or page is highly customised or built for your organisation

On customised sites, the SharePoint administrator can choose to not allow commands. Ask your site administrator, manager, or owner for more information.

Why don’t I see the ribbon at all?

There are several situations where you won’t see the SharePoint ribbon at all.

You’re using SharePoint Online

If so, you can usually bring back the ribbon if you click Return to Classic SharePoint at the bottom of the Quick Launch bar on the left of your screen. To exit Classic SharePoint, close all browser windows, and then log back into Microsoft 365. If you don’t see the classic SharePoint option, check with your administrator or IT dept, as they may have disabled it.

You’re using SharePoint on-premises (2016,2013, or 2010)

With on-premises versions of SharePoint, your organisation or company may have a highly customised site, which doesn’t included the ribbon. If your site is highly customised, you’ll have to contact your manager, site administrator, or IT Department.

I don’t see an answer to my question!

Sometimes the answer is related to the content or business that a site provides. This article is about correcting the way SharePoint itself works, not necessarily about content. Here’s some additional ideas:

  • If you’re an end user with issues on your organisation’s specific page or site, such as how to get permissions or why you lost permissions, you need to talk to your site administrator, manager, or in-house IT department. If you’re not sure who to talk to, ask your manager, receptionist, or colleague.
  • If you’re on a website, contact the owner of the website for more information. Look for “Contact”, “About”, or “Webmaster” page or link. If there isn’t a contact, enter the domain name into a whois registry on the Internet, such as https://whois.icann.org/. This will show you the site owner and should give you the Admin contact of the site.

Leave us a comment

Was this article helpful? If so, please let us know at the bottom of this page. If it wasn’t helpful, let us know what was confusing or missing. Please be as specific as you can, such as version of SharePoint, OS, and browser you’re using. We’ll use your feedback to double-check the steps, correct issues, and update this article.

See Also

I am not seeing the ribbon items described in the Help articles

What version of Office am I using?

All this information was obtained from © Microsoft 2020.

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