How to Enable Anonymous Access in SharePoint 2013 / 2016?

As the name suggests, Anonymous access allows anonymous users to view pages in SharePoint. Setting up anonymous access in SharePoint sites is a common task for most of us, and often we do it to enable anonymous access for SharePoint 2013 for public-facing sites. Let’s see the steps needed to configure anonymous access in SharePoint 2013. 

Enable anonymous access for SharePoint 2013 web application:

To enable anonymous access to an existing SharePoint 2013 site, we’ve to first enable anonymous access at the web application level. Navigate to:

  • Central Administration >> Application Management >> Manage web applications
  • On the Web Application Management page, select your target web application. Now, from the ribbon click on the “Authentication providers” button
    anonymous access SharePoint 2013
  • Click on the relevant zone from the authentication providers. In my case, it’s “Default”.
    sharepoint 2013 anonymous access web application
  • Check the “Enable anonymous access” option on the authentication providers page. Scroll down and press the “Save” button to commit the changes.
    enable anonymous access SharePoint 2013

Once the web application is configured to allow anonymous access, We can adjust what permissions should be granted to anonymous users for the entire web application by setting an anonymous policy.
sharepoint 2013 configure anonymous access

  • If you want allow read-only access, set the anonymous policy accordingly:
sharepoint 2013 manage anonymous access

But wait, we are not yet done! Still, users may get access denied even though we enabled it at the web application level!!

Enable anonymous access SharePoint 2013 site
We’ve just allowed anonymous access to the web application, which doesn’t mean all sites under the web application automatically gets anonymous access. Proceed with the next step.

  • Log in to your SharePoint site as a site collection administrator. Navigate to Site settings, Under the “Users and permissions” section, click the “site permissions”.
  • Click on the Anonymous Access icon. (If you don’t see the Anonymous Access icon – Which means, anonymous access has not been enabled at the web application level!)
    set up anonymous access SharePoint 2013
  • Now, select what part of the Web site anonymous users can access.
    SharePoint 2013 grant anonymous access

Here, your choices are an Entire Website, Lists, Libraries, or Nothing.

  1. If you select Entire Website, anonymous users will have read access to all content in this website and sub-sites that inherit permissions. 
  2. If you select Lists and Libraries, anonymous users have no access to the website and can only directly access lists or libraries where inheritance is broken and anonymous permissions have been granted. 
  3.  If you select Nothing, anonymous users have no access to any content in this website.

This turns on anonymous access in SharePoint 2013 with read-only access to all lists and libraries. Now, you can click on

SharePoint 2013 publishing site anonymous access: Make sure you disable “Limited-access user permission lockdown mode” feature in site collection features section to allow anonymous to access SharePoint Lists or Libraries. This feature is activated by default in SharePoint 2013!

SharePoint 2013 anonymous access to lists and libraries
There may be cases where you want to enable anonymous access only to specific lists and libraries but not the entire site. E.g. You may want to configure anonymous access to SharePoint 2013 survey. Here is now to Grant anonymous access to a specific list/library:

  • Go back to Site settings >> Site Permissions page under site settings >> Users and Permissions tab.
    sharepoint anonymous access lists and libraries
  • Choose “Lists and Libraries” in site permission.
    sharepoint 2013 anonymous access document library
    It doesn’t mean that lists and libraries in the web application are accessible to Anonymous users. You must grant anonymous access to each list and library. Here is how:
  • Navigate to any List / Library to which you want to grant Anonymous access. 
  • Go to Library settings >>  Permissions for this document library >> Click on “Stop inheriting Permissions” under the permissions tab. Now, you’ll get the “Anonymous Access” button in the ribbon.
    sharepoint 2013 anonymous access list
  • Click the relevant rights such as View items (These rights are enabled/disabled based on web application’s anonymous policy!)
    sharepoint anonymous access write

This allows anonymous access SharePoint 2013 list or library.

If you are setting a list’s permissions, your choices are Add Items, Edit Items, Delete Items, and View Items. If you are adjusting a library’s permissions, you can only grant View Items.

To enable anonymous access for SharePoint using PowerShell, refer to: How to Enable Anonymous Access in SharePoint using PowerShell?

Disable anonymous access SharePoint 2013
Simple! If you want to disable anonymous access at the web application level or site or list level, Just revert to the steps discussed above. Go to the Site permissions page and set anonymous access to “Nothing”!

Last but not least: Enable anonymous access ONLY when it’s really required. It’s recommended to avoid anonymous access in order to maintain SharePoint security (It could open Dos service attacks!)

Salaudeen Rajack

Salaudeen Rajack - Information Technology Expert with Two-decades of hands-on experience, specializing in SharePoint, PowerShell, Microsoft 365, and related products. He has held various positions including SharePoint Architect, Administrator, Developer and consultant, has helped many organizations to implement and optimize SharePoint solutions. Known for his deep technical expertise, He's passionate about sharing the knowledge and insights to help others, through the real-world articles!

4 thoughts on “How to Enable Anonymous Access in SharePoint 2013 / 2016?

  • Hello,

    Thank you for this post, I have an issue though;
    I have a site that was developed using SharePoint 2019 on-Prem, by a SharePoint developer, (am not a developer myself)
    tried to open it to the public, and did all the steps, and it is still not opening.
    I noticed that any newly created page (*.aspx) would open to the public by default, and noticed that it use uses the default Page-Layout,
    The Developed pages are not opening, and ask for credentials, and those pages use the custom Page-Layout.

    so I think the issue might be with page-layout used in the site,

    When I change the new page to use the old PL , it stop working for public and asked for credentials

    Any thoughts here, please??

    • sorry , forgot to mention that it is SP 2019, on windows server 2019.

  • Thanks for posting this!

  • Worked great. Thanks for posting this!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *