Permissions to Subfolder not granting acces to parent

Super Contributor
SharePoint Online.  Have a site that all users have read access to which has a single library with Project Folders (project 1, project 2, project 3) then subfolders 1,2, 3, 4 under each project.  I have never added all the users to the library settings as the permissions pull from the folders (and always have).
Prior to today, I have been able to grant access to Subfolder 1 under Project 1 folder to a user and that user would SEE the Project 1 folder then their Subfolder 1 when they logged into SharePoint but none of the other Subfolders 2, 3, 4.  By granting the user access to the subfolder, SharePoint knew that they would need access to the parent folder and I didn't have to manually grant access to both parent and child folders.
For some reason this has stopped working.  The only way I can get the user to see their Subfolders is to add them to the Parent Folder, which then gives them access to ALL Subfolders, then I have to manually remove them from each subfolder.
I don't know if there's been an update lately that broke this but is there an easier way to get this working again?  Anytime I add to the parent it overrides the subfolders which I don't want to do. 
16 Replies

@luvsql  I am having a similar issue and will hope someone has an answer :\ I will search and post if I figure something out. 


Thank you for your question.

Do you receive any solution to your question? I wonder about the answer. 

Otherwise, you should continue to add a user to a main folder/for all and then remove by one by but this is not an efficient way, I think. :smile:


Thank you



@luvsql I am having a similar issue. The user can only acces the subfolder using a direct link. They can't see the parent folders. I hope someone find a solution and share it with us.

You could create the permission structure with security groups (project 1, project 2, project 3 etc). Then add/remove user from the groups. That will simplify the maintenance. Make sure to break permission inheritance on the projects (subfolders)
But the user/group should only access "Subfolder 4".

Library > Projects > Project 4 > Subfolder 4

If i give access to "Subfolder 4" the user won't see the folder "Project 4".
If i give access to "Project 4" the user will see all files/foder inside "Project 4"

I need the user to access "Library" and see only "Projects", access "Projects" and see only "Project 4", access "Project 4" and see only "Subfolder 4".

All the parent folders are full of files and folders inside them.
Interesting, I understand the dilemma. Have you thought about changing the architecture to using Team sites and connect them to Teams? Each project could be a Team Site, connected with MS Teams. The subfolders could then be private channels (up to 30) for each Team.

This will be more effective in the long run. If you would like to have a project portal for all the projects and subfolder data, you could connect all project related sites to a Hub site. Fetching data from all the different areas and presenting what the user has access to.
This will further enhance your project team collaboration by including the tools of MS Teams, chat history, search bar, planner, OneNote, Whiteboard etc.

@Constantinismo I have exactly the same requirement.  Did you already found an answer to that ?




Not yet. I am using unique permissions on subfolders and adding them to Teams tabs. But still no access through Sharepoint libraries.

This needs to be fixed. It's a massive security concern having to basically provide a team member access to an entire parent folder then painstakingly remove access to every subfolder you don't want that user to see, not to mention it's extremely time consuming.


I understand SharePoint assigns permissions from the top down through inheritance, but surely it's not hard to provide a base level read-only permission which applies itself ONLY to the parent folders in that particular folder tree when a user is added to a sub-folder, rather than opening up the whole folder tree and hoping you remove the user from any sensitive information before the library syncs with their desktop OneDrive application.



I would have guessed that if you 'break inheritance' that assigning new permissions to a top folder that they would not trickle down to lower level folders ..... but they do :(


Well put! I hope this becomes an option soon
so after 2.5 years, is there is no solution to this request- except hack around all the other subfolders and hope you didnt forget to remove the user from one of them ?

This preconfigured permission is available to apply. And it seems like it should do exactly what we are trying to do: 

Open  -  Allows users to open a Web site, list, or folder in order to access items inside that container.


But it doesn't work. I created a test folder in a sub-site library, and tried apply the permission at each level from top down. The user still does not see the parent sites or folders in Navigation. 

I also need this! This has been a PITA since we switched to Sharepoint. Would like to know if someone finds a workaround!

same problem here! waiting for a feedback