How to Troubleshoot SharePoint Designer in Contributor Mode

I recently ran into an issue where I needed to use SharePoint Designer to add a workflow to a list within a site. However, if I opened the site within SharePoint Designer, it would load in Contributor mode thus preventing me from creating any workflows. Here is my scenario:

  1. Backed up a site collection from a server on domainA
  2. Restored it to a separate server on domainB
  3. Made my user account a site collection administrator
  4. Opened up the site in Sharepoint Designer, and only had Contributor mode access. This access was insufficient because I was trying to create a workflow.

Solution:

The issue is related to the fact that I did a backup and restore from one environment to another, within different domains. Making myself a site collection administrator was not enough. There were residual accounts within my restored site collection that no longer applied. What I noticed is that when creating a new site collection, my account is automatically added to the site owners group for that site; however, when doing a restore, this doesn’t seem to happen.

It seems that sharepoint designer actually looks at the site owner group permissions, so i simply added my account to the site owners group, and my problem was solved. The next time I opened SharePoint Designer, I was no longer in Contributor mode.

So the key thing to note here is make sure your account is a member of the site owners group.

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