SharePoint: can’t add site members: Causes and fixes

As we all may be aware that SharePoint is one of the most widely used file sharing and management programs — its effortless connectivity with Microsoft programs and devices makes It easily one of the most optimized available on the market. However, there are some flaws in the Office suite which includes SharePoint who may not be able to add new members to a pre-existing organization. In this blog, we will cover points on how to help users fix the error of not being able to add site members. We will also help find solutions to fix the error in a way that it won’t occur again. We will also address some of the issues that can cause the issue of not being able to add additional members to a site.

  1. Addition of members – via Site Content
  2. Assign access type for External content to all members
  3. Browser cache – needs to be cleared
  4. Microsoft account – Sign out
  5. Turn on External sharing 

Quite an extensive amount of research was conducted before writing this blog, as we needed to address as many underlying factors as possible to resolve the issue in the most effective manner. We have made sure the content being shown is in the correct order of executing, being one the most difficult being at the end and two the method depicted for each will in no way affect your security as you are in control of who is on your SharePoint account. The last one may require some form of consideration as you are adding access for external members to access the files you have decided to share; other than that the rest is completely in control of methods to manage security and prevent a breach.

Step by step process – Add site members – via Site Content

  • First sign in to Office 365.
  • Use the app launcher and navigate to “SharePoint”, and click on it.
  • In SharePoint go to the Site where your files are located.
  • In the menu bar click on “Documents”.
  • Now click on “Site Contents”.
  • Now click on “Settings”.
  • Click on “Site permissions”.
  • Now click on “Advanced permission settings”.
  • Now click on “Grant permissions”.
  • Fill out the information such as mail ID and/or a message.
  • Now click on “SHOW OPTIONS”.
  • Ensure “Select a permission level” is set to “[Edit]”.
  • Finally, click on “Share”.

When you share content with members or add members you may add it through the normal SharePoint member’s page. However, this is an approach you may want to avoid, as the permissions set may not allow you to add members to the site. Following through the site itself will allow you to add members within the main page user management, section, removing the security protocol and allowing for the addition of new members. You must note that members with editing or higher permission have the ability to swap out and change content without your permission as default. You can set up a policy that notifies you by email of any changes made to your documents. That way if security is an issue you can always keep a tab on the files you have sent and who has made a change to them.

You can also set up an “Access request”, command within the new window, allowing you to dictate who can ask for a request and who can’t, this provides more security for your data and allows for more control over your own network. Ensure you have the correct permissions again to both access the panel and change the request settings. Only admin users can be appointed to this role, they may however delegate this role to you by giving you the correct admin permissions to work on these files.

Step by step process – Assign access type for External content to all members

To fix this problem, allow access to the External Content Type to the Everyone or All User groups. After that, you may manage permissions to the external resource with list permission. Follow the step by step guide below to see how you can assign access type for External content to all members

Step by step guide – Assign access type for External content to all members

  • Firstly, sign in to Office 365 using your normal login details.
  • Now go to the admin section using the app launcher (illustrated by nine dots).
  • After that click on “Secure Store”.
  • Click “Edit” next to the “Target Application ID” (used for the external list) (on the ribbon).
  • Add the Everyone group to the Members box and click “OK” (bottom of the page).
  • Return to the SharePoint Admin Center and choose “bcs.”
  • Under the bcs menu, select “Manage BDC Models and External Content Types.”
  • Set “Metadata Store Permissions” for the “BDC Model” (used for external material).
  • In the set Metadata store permission dialogue box, you must now add Everyone to the permissions box.
  • To add a user, click “Add.”
  • Select the Everyone group from the list of available accounts or the metadata repository. Make sure the “Execute” checkbox is selected.
  • Select “Propagate permissions to all BDC models”, “External System”, and “External Content Types in the MDC Metadata Store” at the bottom of the dialogue box. Check all of the boxes above and then click “OK.”

The guide above will allow you to assign an access type to all members of your organization. This uses more of a scripted approach to assigning permission, however, the concept is similar using a much more sophisticated and directed approach to resolve the error.

More on the Secure Store service

This SharePoint service makes it easy to retrieve data from external business applications. It’s vital to realize that the username and password used to access external data stores may not be the same as the username and password used to access SharePoint in order to appreciate why the Secure Store Service provides this benefit. When a user visits a SharePoint page that contains data from an external data system, SharePoint must make a separate request to the external data system to get the data. In order for the content request to be successful, it must be done with credentials that are known to the external data system. The information from the external data system may then be displayed on the page using SharePoint. For this reason, the Secure Store Service saves the external data system credentials.

The Secure Store Service is intended to provide a background mapping between a group of SharePoint users and a single user known to an external data system. The following happens when the Secure Store Service is correctly configured:

  • A user logs in to SharePoint using valid credentials and Internet Information Services (the webserver technology that underpins SharePoint).
  • The Secure Store Service in SharePoint leverages mapped credentials from the external business application to present any external data on the site for the authorized user.

Step by step process – Browser cache needs to be cleared to add site members

When you visit a website, your web browser keeps some information from that site in a folder called “browser cache” on your computer’s hard drive. Most of the time, this is a good thing since it speeds up your online surfing experience by removing the need to repeatedly download the same static resources as you go around a website. While your web browser saves cache to speed up page loading, a faulty cache might cause a conflict with the site, resulting in server and login errors in SharePoint. Clear the cache in your browser and try again. Follow the step-by-step guide to see how you can clear the browser cache data from the major search engines.

Step by step guide – Clear browser for Chrome

  • Open Chrome. Select “Settings” from the “Menu” icon (three dots).
  • Type “Cache” into the “Search bar.” Select “Clear browsing data” from the drop-down menu.
  • Check the “Cached images and files” and “Cookies and other site data” options under the basic tab.
  • Select “Clear data”.

Alternatively, you may utilize the CTRL + SHIFT + DEL hotkey combination. Chrome will create a new tab with a Clear Browsing Data popup box. Only the Cached images and files box should be ticked. Otherwise, you risk erasing your browser history, stored passwords, cookies, and other information.

Step by step guide – Clear browser for Internet Explorer

To clear the cache in Internet Explorer, go to the Tools menu by selecting the gear symbol in the upper right corner. Then, from the submenu, locate Safety and click Delete Browsing History.

You may also use the shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + DEL to go to the menu. A popup will appear in Internet Explorer. To prevent removing vital information, just pick the Temporary Internet files and website files box. Then, at the bottom, click the Delete button.

Step by step process – Microsoft account – Sign out

When you use Microsoft Office 2013 or 2016, you may sign in using your Microsoft account. You must have a Microsoft account to share your documents across the network. You won’t be able to distribute the document across the network otherwise. You may send an email to someone using your Microsoft account. Now that you know what a Microsoft Account is, let’s look at how to sign out of a Microsoft Account in Windows 10.

If the user receives the message “We are sorry [email protected] can’t be located in Microsoft.SharePoint directory,” it might be due to a conflict with the server caused by an authentication token. Logging out of all Microsoft Accounts on the affected device is one solution.

Step by step guide – Microsoft account – Sign out

  • Select Accounts from the Windows 10 Settings menu.
  • From the left-hand side, select “Your Account.”
  • To continue the procedure, enter your Microsoft account password and then click Next.
  • Now input the username, password, and hint into the fields provided. If you’re not sure how to do it, look at the screenshot below. Click the Next button when you’re finished.
  • To sign out and complete, click the “Sign out and finish” option.

Turn on External sharing to add site members

It’s conceivable that you’ve switched off External sharing on Office 365, SharePoint, and Site if you haven’t already. Turn on External Sharing to see if it fixes the problem.

Step by step guide – Turn on External sharing 

  • Start by going to the Microsoft Online Administration Center.
  • Below SharePoint Online, click the Manage option.
  • From the Administration center window, select Manage Site Collections (the left pane).
  • SharePoint Online – External Sharing
  • Click Settings from the Administration Center panel, then pick “Manage External Users” from the menu.
  • To save the changes, choose the Allow option and then click Save.

In-depth – Step by step process – Addition of members – via Site Content

Step by step breakdown:

  • First sign into Office 365.

Use your account details or if you have a current Skype account with the Office account in question, you can use this.

  • Use the app launcher and navigate to “SharePoint”, and click on it.

You can access the SharePoint application however this is for individuals who only have a SharePoint plan, A larger group of individuals have SharePoint in Office 365.

  • In SharePoint go to the Site where your files are located.

In this example, the site above called “Blog Demo” will be used to create the preview.

  • In the menu bar click on “Documents”.

A document library is a safe storage location for files that you and your coworkers can quickly locate, collaborate on, and access from any device at any time. For example, a document library on a SharePoint site can be used to hold all materials relevant to a given project or customer.

  • Now click on “Site Contents”.
  • Now click on “Settings”.
  • Click on “Site permissions”.
  • Now click on “Advanced permission settings”.
  • Now click on “Grant permissions”.
  • Fill out the information such as mail ID and/or a message.
  • Now click on “SHOW OPTIONS”.
  • Ensure “Select a permission level” is set to “[Edit]”.
  • Finally, click on “Share”.

That’s it for this Blog thank you for taking time out to read our content, please feel free to email our team about how it went if you followed the steps or if you need more help with the questions we answered in this Blog.

Saajid Gangat

Saajid Gangat has been a researcher and content writer at Business Tech Planet since 2021. Saajid is a tech-savvy writer with expertise in web and graphic design and has extensive knowledge of Microsoft 365, Adobe, Shopify, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and more! You can connect with Saajid on Linkedin.

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