Allow Anonymous Access for SharePoint 2010 and IIS 7

anonymous accessI recently ran into a problem with Anonymous Access in SharePoint 2010.

It was setup correctly in Central Administration – on the site, the Anonymous user had access, and in IIS, the site had Anonymous Authentication allowed.  And yet, for some reason, I still could not get in anonymously.

After doing a bit of digging, I found a problem in IIS sites where permissions was not granted to the ‘Everyone’ user. This was very obvious after I found it, but not so much beforehand. So, at this point, you can either skip to the bottom of this article to fix that permission, or run through the steps I did to ensure that anonymous access is setup correctly.

Overview of Anonymous Access

Let’s say you’ve built out your SharePoint website and are now wanting anyone to come and visit your site, so you enable anonymous access on the site collection but no such luck. It still prompts you to log in, even with anonymous access settings turned on. Frustrating.

Let’s double check that anonymous access features have been turned on in three places:

1. Central Administration
2. On the site
3. IIS (Internet Information Services 7)

Central Administration:

Log on to your SharePoint server and load up Central Administrator.

In Central Administration, we are going to navigate to your web application settings.  Central Administrator -> Application Management: Manage Web applications, select the web app of the site you want to enable Anonymous access for and check Authentication Providers.  Click the Default under Zone.  In the Edit Authentication check the ‘Enable Anonymous Access.’

Enable Anonymous Access

From the same place, Central Administrator -> Application Management: Manage Web applications, select the web app and check Anonymous Policy. Ensure that ‘None – No Policy’ is selected.

Anonymous Policy

Now that everything in Central Administrator looks good, let’s check the site.

On the site:

Go ahead and navigate to the site in question, log in, and go to Site Actions -> Site Permissions.  Click Anonymous Access in the Ribbon.  In the Anonymous Access window select Entire Web site and click ok.

Select Entire Web Site

It will add the Anonymous Users to the permissions list.

Add the Anonymous Users to the permissions list

So all looks good – Central Administration is set and the site has access for the anonymous user.  But we are still getting prompted for credentials…  Let’s check IIS.

Check IIS:

Open Internet Information Services (IIS) manager and expand the Sites tab and look for your site in there. Select your site and click the Authentication icon under the IIS section.

IIS Authentication icon

In the Authentication window, make sure Anonymous Authentication is Enabled.

Enable Anonymous Authentication

Now, here is where we get stuck: All the different places were the Anonymous Access could be turned off are on, but still we cannot get to the site without being prompted for credentials.

Well one last place to check is the web site’s permissions. In IIS manager, select the site, and right click it and select Edit Permissions.

Edit Permissions

This will open up a site properties box, select the Security tab. In the Group and Usernames that have access to the site, make sure that Everyone has Read privileges. If not, you’ll have to add it, by clicking Edit.  On the next window, click Add.  Find the Everyone user, click ok and then give them check the Read under the Allow column.

Everyone has Read privileges

Now go back to the site and see if it prompts you to enter credentials.  No prompt for credentials? Hurray!

This makes sense considering a web site is just a group of files, if the ‘Everyone’ user doesn’t have permissions to read it, no one without explicit permissions to the site will be able to view it.

Remember: This article is for SharePoint 2010, but if it’s an IIS permission problem, then it could affect more than just your SharePoint 2010 sites.

2014-06-25T08:30:06+00:00 June 25th, 2014|


  1. SashaBond November 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    good article, especially with pics.
    i have different problem with anonymous access.
    Sharepoint is set up to edit documents thru owa server.
    when user clicks on 3 dots right to the document (doc,docx, …)
    there will pop small window with preview and in the bottom:
    “EDIT” SHARE “…”
    when click on those “…” in pop up, another menu pops with
    view properties,
    edit properties,
    view in browser,
    edit in browser,
    check out,
    version history,

    However, this menu is ONLY for signed in user
    without sign in it will be preview window with
    OPEN “…” (no SHARE!)
    and when click on those “…”
    short menu pop with
    view properties
    view in browser
    shared with
    (no edit menu)

    Can you please help figure out how to enable those “edits” for anonymous user?

  2. Jess April 30, 2015 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the simple, concise instructions. They worked the first time :0)

  3. Ryan October 19, 2015 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    I know this article is over a year old now, but I’m hoping you still check the comments….

    I was having the same issue and the Everyone was missing completely from the permissions. I added it with Read, but now my site comes up with just a blank page instead of forcing me to log in. Before, after logging on in, it did display the site. FYI, this is just happening in one environment and not any other with the same code (so it’s not code related). Any thoughts?

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