SharePoint Online: How to Set Permissions to Add But Not Delete?

Requirement: Set permission to add but not delete in SharePoint site or list

How to Set Permissions to add but not delete in SharePoint?

We have a requirement to configure permissions to add items but not delete them in a SharePoint Online site. So, let’s see how we can restrict permissions on a list or library for a particular group of users to add items to the list or library, but they can’t delete items such as files and folders (not even their own!). The idea is: Let’s create a new permission level from contribute permissions and remove “delete” permission from it.

Step 1: Create a permission level in SharePoint Online

Contribute without delete permission level is often required in real-world scenarios. Let’s say, You want your users to be able to add files to the library but not delete files from the library. To achieve this, we can simply copy the “Contribute” permission level and take off “Delete Items” permission from it! To create a new permission level in SharePoint Online, follow these steps:

  • Login to your SharePoint Online site collection as Administrator >> Click on Settings >> Site Settings 
  • Click on the Site permissions link to create a new permission level. In the ribbon, click on the “Permission Levels” button. 
    sharepoint add but not delete
  • This takes you to the page which lists all default permission levels available in SharePoint with their corresponding description. You can either Add a Permission Level or click on any existing permission level. Let’s start with the “Contribute” role. Click on the role name “Contribute” to go to the page that defines all the individual permissions of that role.
    sharepoint add to list but not delete
  • Scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on the button “Copy permission level”. Provide a name and description to your permission level, Say: “Contribute without Delete”
    sharepoint add to list but not delete
  • Remove deleting items and delete versions permissions from it, Click on Create to save the new permission level. You can also uncheck “Edit” related permissions to restrict users from editing list items.
    sharepoint list permissions add but not delete

Step 2: Assign the Permission Level to User or Group

Once the permission level is created, the next step is to assign the permission to target SharePoint objects such as site, list, list item, etc.

  • Go to list settings >> Click on the “Permissions on this list”. If the list is inheriting permissions from its parent (SharePoint site), click on “Stop inheriting permissions” to break the permission inheritance.
  • Now, You can assign the permission level to users and groups. For E.g. I’ve “Marketing Site Members” with “Contribute” permissions. Select the group and click on the “Edit user permissions” Icon in the ribbon.
    sharepoint permission to add but not delete
  • Change the permission level for this group from “Contribute” to “Contribute without Delete”.
    sharepoint permissions add but not delete

    Now the permissions have been updated, and you can see that  Marketing site members have the role of  “Contribute without delete” assigned to them. Similarly, You can add/edit any user permissions on the target object.

That’s all. Now, You can see the permission changes in action by logging in as any user of the groups. You may find the delete button greyed out for those with the new permission level assigned. You can permit users to add items to a list or library but not delete anything in that library.

Here is another post on creating an add-only permission level in SharePoint Online using PowerShell: SharePoint Online: Create Permission Level using PowerShell

Salaudeen Rajack

Salaudeen Rajack - SharePoint Expert with Two decades of SharePoint Experience. Love to Share my knowledge and experience with the SharePoint community, through real-time articles!

3 thoughts on “SharePoint Online: How to Set Permissions to Add But Not Delete?

  • A workaround could be tha User can copy the file to desktop, rename it, and then upload it back to drive as a new file.

    • True! Users with “Contribute without delete” can replace existing files. But still, they can’t delete the existing files!

  • Great article. I am already using it.
    Problem here is – User cannot rename any file or folder wihtout delete permissions. So, it becomes a bit unrealistic to NOT allow users to rename their own work. Do you have a workaround to it?


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