All about _Layouts and _catalogs files in SharePoint 2013

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Objective:
As soon as you install SharePoint, you might have noticed that there are some physical folders get creates under “C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\Web Server Extensions”. Depending on version of SharePoint you can see folder with the names as 11 / 13 / 15.

In SharePoint there are 2 kind of file we can see, they are:
– Ghostable
– Un-Ghostable

Ghostable Files: These are the files get render from physical folders / path and can’t be editable by user.

Note: If you want to edit you should open those files in SharePoint designer. As soon as you edit the file it will get save in content database of that site collection.

Ex: Site / List settings pages

Un-Ghostable: The files get load from content database can be edited by user at any point of time.

Ex: All the pages rendering from Site pages folder.

In this article I would like to discuss in detail about few important files rendering from _Layouts & _Catalogs folders.

1. To close the connection & Log-in as different User:
From SharePoint 2010 onwards Microsoft has disabled the option of log-in as different user. To achieve this we can make use of file “/_layouts/15/closeConnection.aspx” to this file we can send the query string as login as different user. The final URL to make use of this file is:



Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/15/closeConnection.aspx?loginasanotheruser=true

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/closeConnection.aspx?loginasanotheruser=true

2. Web Parts Maintenance Page View:
If you see any issue on page and not sure about which control is causing the issue. You can simply move on to Webpart maintenance page view by adding a query string ?contents=1

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /sites/hompage.aspx?contents=1

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/sites/hompage.aspx?contents=1

3. Second-Level Recycle Bin:
In SharePoint we have 2 levels of recycle bins

a. Site / Web Level Recycle Bin
b. Site Collection Level Recycle Bin

If user delete a document or list item it first get store in Site / Web level and then it will get save a copy in Site Collection level. If you want to restore the data you can navigate to Site collection level by adding the below path to site URL: /_layouts/15/AdminRecycleBin.aspx?View=2

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/15/AdminRecycleBin.aspx?View=2

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/AdminRecycleBin.aspx?View=2

4. Adding Users to Members Group:
We can add and update the users to the site by navigating site action -> Site Settings -> people and groups (under users and permissions zone). The same can be achieved by adding /_layouts/15/people.aspx to site URL. This will directly take you to Site members group.

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/15/people.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/people.aspx

5. Site Permissions Page:
We often get request to check user permissions for a single or multiple users. This site owner does by Site Action -> Site Settings -> Site permissions (under Users and Permissions Zone). The same can be achieved by adding /_layouts/15/user.aspx to site URL.

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/15/user.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/user.aspx

6. Adding users to Site Collections Administrators Group:
You can to add user(s) to site collections list by adding path /_layouts/15/mngsiteadmin.aspx to site URL.

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/15/mngsiteadmin.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/mngsiteadmin.aspx

7. Modify the Site Master page:
To change the master page of a site you simply add path /_layouts/ChangeSiteMasterPage.aspx to site URL.

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/ChangeSiteMasterPage.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/ChangeSiteMasterPage.aspx

8. Adding Site Columns:
We all know that creating reusable fields as Site Columns, to navigate this page simply add to site URL: /_layouts/15/mngfield.aspx

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/ChangeSiteMasterPage.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/ChangeSiteMasterPage.aspx

9. Adding Content Types:
To create / manage the content types in site collection add /_layouts/15/mngctype.aspx to site URL

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/mngctype.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/ mngctype.aspx

10. List all WebParts:
To list all the webparts available in the site collection add /_catalogs/wp/Forms/AllItems.aspx to site URL.



Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_catalogs/wp/Forms/AllItems.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_catalogs/wp/Forms/AllItems.aspx

11. View List Templates in a Site Collection:
In SharePoint we can reuse the same schema to create multiple lists by saving the list as template. If you want to see all the list templates available in a Site Collection add below path to site URL: /_catalogs/lt/Forms/AllItems.aspx

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_catalogs/lt/Forms/AllItems.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_catalogs/lt/Forms/AllItems.aspx

12. To Update Regional Settings:
In SharePoint we can set the time zone, time format, language and Defining work week by adding the path to site URL: /_layouts/15/regionalsetng.aspx

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/15/regionalsetng.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/regionalsetng.aspx

13. Site Lists and Libraries with Settings option:
If we want to update more than one list / library setting it is always handy to land on a page with all the available elements in site with Settings option by default. If you add /_layouts/15/mcontent.aspx to site URL it will render all the lists and libraries in a page with navigation URL to list / library settings.




Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >> /_layouts/15/regionalsetng.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/regionalsetng.aspx

14. List of User Alerts:
To manage the users alerts in sharepoint add /_layouts/15/sitesubs.aspx to site URL. This will show all the configured alerts in site collection.

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >>/_layouts/15/sitesubs.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/sitesubs.aspx

15. Creating Sites and Work Spaces:
To create sub sites in SharePoint most of us follow long path site action -> Site content -> click on new sub site option. But the same can be achieved by adding /_layouts/15/mngsubwebs.aspx to site URL.

Syn:
<< Site Collection Name >>/_layouts/15/mngsubwebs.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/mngsubwebs.aspx

16. Manage Content and Structure Data:
In SharePoint if you want to move a list, library in fact a site from location to another location you can do it with couple of mouse clicks by adding the below path to site URL:
/_layouts/15/sitemanager.aspx?Source={WebUrl}_layouts/15/settings.aspx

This can be performed at site collection level.

Syn:
<< Site URL >> /_layouts/15/sitemanager.aspx?Source={WebUrl}_layouts/15/settings.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345 /_layouts/15/sitemanager.aspx?Source={WebUrl}_layouts/15/settings.aspx

17. Change Navigation settings:
To change the navigation settings at site collection level add /_layouts/15/SiteNavigationSettings.aspx to site URL

Syn:
<< Site URL >> /_layouts/15/SiteNavigationSettings.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/SiteNavigationSettings.aspx

18. Adding / Updating Audit settings:
In SharePoint we can enable / update audit settings for various operations by adding below path to site URL: /_layouts/15/AuditSettings.aspx

Syn:
<< Site URL >> /_layouts/15/ AuditSettings.aspx

Ex:
http://Sharepoint13:12345/_layouts/15/AuditSettings.aspx

Hope this helps to manage your operations quickly in SharePoint!!!

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About Krishna Vandanapu

I am Krishna.Vandanapu a SharePoint architect working in IT from last 12 years, I worked in SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and Office 365. I have extensive hands on experience in customizing SharePoint sites from end to end. Expertise in SharePoint migration tools like Sharegate, Doc Ave and Metalogix. Migrated SharePoint sites from SharePoint 2007 to 2010 and 2010 to 2013 several times seamlessly. Implementing CSOM with Microsoft best practices. Spent quality time in configuring SharePoint application services like User Profile, Search, Managed Meta data services etc. Now exploring SharePoint Framework and SharePoint 2019

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