SharePoint Knowledge Base

Apr 09
Addressing Repeated Authentication in SharePoint

If there's one repeated issue that we hear about as SharePoint consultants it's how to make documents from a library open without prompting for additional security. This makes everyone nuts, but there is good news! There's a way to make this stop happening and make your users happy!

So why does this happen in the first place? There are many causes that range from all of the devices, like routers, or firewalls between you and SharePoint. All of these can cause SharePoint to default back to basic authentication instead of using integrated AD network security.

Using a short NetBIOS name for your portal is the most effective way for SharePoint to use integrated security every time. (So would be http://myportal)


General Guidelines

If you are using a secure SharePoint site and it repeatedly prompts you for a password, please try the following steps (for Windows users only):

1. Active Directory Domain Users (Most users):

Add site URL to IE Intranet Sites zone when accessing a site that has a period in the URL (e.g. not a short name like http://portal).

  • Go to: Tools — Internet Options — Security Tab
  • Click the "Local intranet" icon to select it
  • Click the "Sites" button, then click the "Advanced" button
  • Add the SharePoint site as "Local intranet" sites
  • If logging into the site from a computer that's not in the Active Directory domain, you will be prompted for your username/password the first time you log into the site. Be sure to check "Remember my credentials"

2. Forms-Based Authentication (FBA) Users

Add site URL to IE Trusted Sites zone and use check box on sign-in page

  • Go to: Tools — Internet Options — Security Tab
  • Click the "Trusted Sites" icon to select it
  • Click the "Sites" button
  • Add the SharePoint site URL to Trusted Sites
  • Check "Sign me in automatically" when logging into the site

This will store a cookie on your computer which will be used to re-authenticate if necessary

3. If prompted for a password when opening Microsoft Office documents…

The steps above should enable your credentials to pass through to SharePoint when opening Microsoft Office documents.  However, if you have logged into your computer using a different account from your network account (which sometimes happens with personally owned computers, shared computers, and/or laptops), then you will likely be prompted for a password each time you open a Microsoft Office document.

If you are working with lots of Office documents and are being prompted for every document, there is a trick which can substantially improve your experience working with documents. Open the first Word document, entering your username and password, and then leave Word open (don't close the first Word document after you save your changes) while you continue opening other Word documents.  By leaving Word open, the connection remains open, along with the credentials you entered, and thus subsequent documents should open without requiring your username or password. 

Also, please note that, in general, you will not be prompted for a password when opening PDF documents in SharePoint (which is why we recommending using PDF whenever possible when distributing static documents within SharePoint or web servers).

4. Clear all saved passwords on each computer you use

If an incorrect password has been saved, you may be repeatedly prompted for credentials and you may experience an account lockout.

  • Go to:  Tools — Internet Options — General Tab
  • Click the button: "Delete…"
  • Select all the check boxes (optionally leave browsing history unchecked)
  • Un-check "preserve favorites website data"
  • Click "Delete"

5. Turn off the "SharePoint OpenDocuments Class" add-on in IE to disable all document password prompts

If you simply want to open and view documents in SharePoint as read-only, you can disable the IE web browser add-on that is at the heart of document password prompting.  This add-on is called "SharePoint OpenDocuments Class" and it enables integrated document editing directly on the SharePoint server.  Because this add-on allows direct manipulation of documents on the SharePoint server, extra security and authentication is required… thus all the login prompts!  So if you don't need the integrated features and just want to quickly open and view documents, you can disable the IE add-on using these steps:

  • In Internet Explorer, go to Tools and select "Manage Add-ons"
  • In the Manage Add-ons window, do the following (see image)



6. Managing Passwords

Open Internet Explorer > Internet Options > Content tab. Under AutoComplete, click on Settings.


  • In the AutoComplete Settings box, click on Manage Passwords.


  • This will open the Windows Credential Manager. The Credential Manager helps you store credentials such as user names and passwords in a single, convenient place. These credentials, which you use to sign in to websites or other PCs on a network, are saved in special folders on your PC. Windows can securely access these folders and use your stored credentials to automatically sign you in to websites or other PCs.
  • Once you are in the Credential Manager you will see that you have the option to add three different kinds of credentials, Windows, Certificate-Based or Generic. We will be adding a new Windows credential, so click on the link.


  • Then you can go ahead and enter the DNS Name for the machine on your network as well as the username and password you would like to connect with, then click the Ok button.


  • You will now see that you credential has been added to the vault.



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