SharePoint 2007 navigation dissected – part 1

One of the areas SharePoint 2003 was suboptimal was site navigation. SPS 2003 has some quite restrictive navigation functionality to navigate through the portal areas. When you end up in a team site you only have your quick links bar at the left side to navigate to lists and libraries within your site, but there is no way to navigate to your sub sites.

As always the next version will solve all our problems… so let’s have a look at the new and improved, but still beta 2, SharePoint 2007 standard navigation options. I’m working with an out-of-the-box SharePoint installation that includes the portal.

First thing I did was creating a set of sites and sub sites under the site Sites of type Site Directory with the following structure:



This results in the following homepage navigation:

As you can see, two levels of navigation are displayed.

Navigation Inheritance

When a site is created you are prompted with the following option:

The default setting for this option is Yes. I created site1 and site2 using the Yes setting, and a site3 using the No setting. The results are as follows:

For site2 (use the top link bar from the parent site):

For site3 (don’t use the top link bar from the parent site):

I can see no difference between the two options, both shows their complete path in the breadcrumb bar:

Home > Sites > site2 > Pages > Home

Home > Sites > site3 > Pages > Home

For site3 I actually expected to see:

Site3 > Pages > Home

Another strange thing is that I didn’t find an option in the UI with the same phrasing to modify this setting after initial creation of the site. This option can be set in a working way however, keep on reading!

Site navigation

If you navigate to Sites you get the following navigation:

So all sub sites are displayed, with one level of the sub-sub sites.

If you navigate from here to site2 you get the following navigation:

This is a different navigation. The current site (site2) is displayed with one level of children (site2sub1, site2sub2), and sites at the same level (site1, site2).

The question now is: what configures the navigation? If you go to Site Actions >Site Settings >Modify Navigation you get to the Site Navigation Settings.

The Site Navigation Settings screen looks as follows:

This screen asks for some experiments!

Site Navigation Settings

The Site Navigation Settings screen gives us some configuration options on how navigation works on a site. Lets start with the following options:

Global Navigation: Use global navigation of the parent site or of this site.

Current Navigation: Use navigation items of the parent site or of this site. If this site is selected, you can enable to show siblings of this site in the current navigation.

For the site site1sub1 we go through the different possibilities.

Global navigation: global navigation of parent

We see three elements on the above screenshot:

1.       At the top the path of the root site who’s navigation is used is displayed (empty, the root site)

2.       The complete parent navigation bar is displayed

3.       The complete path to the parent sites is displayed

Global navigation: global navigation of this site

We see three elements on the above screenshot:

1.       At the top the path of the root site who’s navigation is used is displayed: site1sub1

2.       The navigation bar of the current site + it’s sub sites is displayed

3.       The complete breadcrumb path to the parent sites is displayed

I created two additional sub sites under site1sub1subA: site1sub1subAsubX and site1sub1subAsubY. Note that these sites become available in a drop down box in the global navigation bar (2):


But what happens if we have set global navigation of the parent site on a site, but a site somewhere up the path has set its global navigation to this site.

In the above example site site1sub1  has set its global navigation to this site, while site1sub1subA and site1sub1subAsubX have set their global navigation of the parent site. If we now go to the site site1sub1subAsubX we see the following navigation:

The result is that a site goes up to the hierarchy to the first parent site, and displays its navigation with respect to this parent site!

Current navigation: use navigation items from the parent site

We are at site site1sub1. This site is highlighted in the left hand navigation structure. We see the parent site, and all sites at the same level as the parent site. Under the parent site we see the current site (highlighted), and all sites at the same level.

Current navigation: use navigation items from this site

We are at site site1sub1. This site is not visible in the left hand navigation structure, the current location can be determined from the site title, the global navigation, and the breadcrumb path as shown in the picture below. We see all sub sites with their sub-sub sites (2 levels).

Current navigation: use navigation items from this site, show siblings

We are at site site1sub1. This site is visible in the left hand navigation structure (but not highlighted), We see the sub sites of the current site, and all sibling sites (sites at the same level as the current site), but without their sub sites.

Showing pages in the navigation

Besides sub sites a site can contain pages. It is possible to display these pages in the left hand navigation:

The pages of site1sub1 are displayed in the left hand navigation. Note that the “Home” page is not displayed in this navigation. If we navigate to a page available in the navigation this page gets highlighted in the left hand navigation:

I did not find a way to make the “Home” page (Pages/default.aspx) part of the left hand navigation.

Note that the pages are always displayed in the breadcrumb trail.


SharePoint 2007 contains a very powerful navigation system that allows you to completely configure the way your site navigation is presented. I did only scratch the surface however. In a upcoming posts I will dive into the following topics:

Navigation Editing and Sorting – this functionality allows you to add custom additional navigation items and to show or hide sites and pages in the navigation (but not the default page in the Pages library!)

Navigation under the hood – which navigation controls are used by SharePoint, what are their possibilities and how can you for example change the current depth of 2 that is currently shown in the hierarchy.

Custom navigation providers – how can you utilize the SharePoint navigation controls with custom navigation information?

Any feedback is highly appreciated!


  • Good article! I have a question though...

    When you create a Wiki site the default url points to Home in the Wiki Pages library. Does anyone know how you can customise this so that it points to another page in the same, or a different library?



  • Hi Piet,

    This article focusses on Sharepoint Portal Server 2007 and not for the free component called Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS 3.0).

    A lot of the functionality such as sorting sites is not available unless you buy the full SPS 2007 product. ;-)

    Anyone know of a WSS 3.0 feature to allow sorting of the site hierarchy? Maybe something the talented developers of SmarPart and Macaw Skinning tool could provide? :-P

  • ok ... but all a bit obvious really. Not sure if this sort of stuff needs explaining.

  • Good article. Thanks a lot for the info

  • If I've got a lot of pages under each of the Global and Current Navigation headings is there an easier way to move things around rather than clicking move up or move down 20 times?

  • So what do you do if you want to hide a site(default page) in the navigation and you have used the options of hiding it but it doesnt work?

    I have tried all the options under navigation but it still will not hide the site/page from anonymous users. I have also tried restricting anonymous access but that doesn't hide it, it just provides a login popup when you try to access it.

    Any help would be appriciated.

  • When trying to change or hide a couple sites I get an error.
    The page has been modified by another author on XX Jul 2007. does any one know how to get this resolved?


  • I have a problem in the tab on the top link bar is not selected when you connect to a PAGE after you enable the Office SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure feature in SharePoint Server 2007 OR without enable it when I added a link node with URL "servername/" or"/"

  • I'm creating a side navigation tree menu. I'm having problems with not being able to keep items collapsed. They are always fully expanded. In designer there are some options that look like they should work, but they don’t seem to. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Where are the breadcrumbs store...default master or application, and in a custom master page how can I add them in?

  • HI,

    I want to add my own tab on Top site navigation control. I need a tab on right side of "Home" tab. Can you please tell me how to add the new tab? I want to do that for Left navigation also.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Hi,
    I want to hide the home tab on the MOSS collbaration portal. How to do that.

    Any help will be appreciated.

  • Hi,
    I wanted to add a link in the top menu bar as a sub sub menu( 2-Levels)...
    Home News Sites...( first Level menu)
    Under News Publications(second Level)
    Press releases
    News Letters...
    Under Publications- jan 08(Third Level)
    Feb 08..

    Any help is very much appreciated!

  • I have installed MOSS 2007. i cannot get to the navigation options? is it to be enabled or some component to be installed.. ?

  • Where did you get the ability to uncheck siblings in the site navigation settings? I don't have that checkbox... I only have three radio buttons:
    Display the same navigation items as the parent site
    Display the current site, the navigation items below the current site, and the current site's siblings
    Display only the navigation items below the current site

  • Did you notice that if you uncheck "show subsites" on the parent (the Site site in your example)
    Then after that, if you keep the "show siblings" selected in the Site1, then go back and look at your Site1 quicklaunch, NOTHING gets displayed?
    It apparently is grabbing the values for "siblings" from the parent site.
    I can go further and check Show Subsites at Site, and Hide the Site1 on that page, then go back to Site 1 (which is showing current and siblings) and it will only show the siblings not anything at or below Site 1.
    I mainly notice this after the Infrastructure Update. Has anyone else? We have a ticket open with Microsoft and they have never heard of it.

  • Hi..
    It was an excellent topic. thanks a lot for sharing with us.

    and i am eagarly waiting for your next blogs which you had specified.

    good bye


  • In the design for a new site we are building the vertical navigation supports 2 layers. End-users may click on a main menu item and on the subitems below the main menu item. When selecting a submenu item the link should be highlighted, but also the parent link above (main menu item).

    Any ideas on how to Maintain an active header and selected sub item?

  • Hi, could u teach me how u did it such that the navigation bar is collapsible?

  • Hi,

    Is it possible to have left and right navigation(menus) on a page and clicking on any link/menu displays content of that menu in the center of the page??

    Please guide me.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Hi,

    Is it possible to have left and right navigation(menus) on a page and clicking on any link/menu displays content of that menu in the center of the page??

    Please guide me.

    Thanks in advance.

  • how do two tabs(subsites) refer to the same page. And there tabs(subsites) have dropdowns for their subsites.

  • Thanks,

    Excellent article.

  • Tahnks,Helpful article....
    Can you tell me how can i add current navigation to search/Advanced.aspx Search page?

  • Just started to learn about Sharepoint and now tasked with customization of the global navigation look and feel. Are there any good posts/links on this as I'm not sure where to start!


  • I like the features of Global navigation, but I want to change the name of the first tab on top back to "HOME" instead of the Site Name. Is there any easy way to do this?

  • The wealth of the mind is the only wealth.


  • -----------------------------------------------------------
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  • SharePoint 2007 navigation dissected _1320_ part 1.. Bully :)

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  • HI,
    I'm working with WSS 3 i want to make sub menu in my top navigation menu can you help me ?

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