Stefan Goßner

Senior Escalation Engineer for SharePoint (WSS, SPS, MOSS, SP2010) and MCMS

"Save site as template" option and the publishing feature

"Save site as template" option and the publishing feature

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A common question I receive is the following:

I have tried to save my site as a template using "Site Action" - "Save site as template" but this option is not available as soon as I enable the publishing feature. After some tries I managed to save the site as a template my adding "_layouts/savetmpl.aspx" behind the site URL. But after creating a site based on this template the new site does not behave correct. How can I fix this?

Unfortunatelly the answer for this question is: saving publishing enabled sites as a template is not supported and it does not work. You cannot use this option to create new sites. Instead you should create site definitions (..\web server extensions\12\template\SiteTemplates) and provision the new site based on such a site definition.

Also be aware that deactivating the publishing feature and creating a template of the site will not lead to a supported template! The problem is that the template would still contain all the artefacts of a publishing site like Pages library and various different properties. Creating a template of a site which previously had the publishing feature activated is unsupported in the same way as creating a template from a site which has the publishing feature activated.

Update April 24th, 2008: The same statement applies if you save the template from SharePoint Designer. Also not supported.

Update June 8th, 2011: The same statements also apply to SharePoint 2010.

Update February 26th, 2014: The same statements also apply fo SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online

  • So if it is "supported" why can you save the Site as Template using SharePoint Designer. We have 100 of sites with publishing features created from a save as template and it is working with no issue

  • Hi

    It should be supported because you can save site as template via SharePoint Designer that open the correct URL without change the URL manual. MS should support it!!! Actually the site behave as expected after you refresh it and even you get at the first time "Error" in the menu in the next time you enter the site everything fine.


  • Actually it works but you have to make sure that everything every single file published before saving it as template :)

  • I've used this method many times without problems. And I agree with Daniel, if it is available in SharePoint Designer, how can you state that it is unsupported? Can you please post a link to the official M$ policy regarding this?

  • Hi DV,

    this is the best we have so far:

    Afaik a more detailled document is in the works.



  • I came across this when trying to save as site as a template the other day - the option didn't exist

  • Hello,

    The fact that sharepoint designer allows you make a template of a site having the publishing feature turned on is indeed incoherent with what the UI does but Sharepoint Designer does nothing else than calling the URL which you could do using your browser.....

    It doesn't fix the problems however because you can run in the following trouble:

    - Create a template of a site having publishing turned on (either using SD either by typing the URL manually)

    - Create a new site using the template you've just created

    - Make a new template of this site now....

    - Create a new site of this template, you'll get errors....

  • Today we will look 3 options available for the modification of Site Master Pages. They include SP Designer, Site Template and File System options. ...

  • Thanks for the information Stefan, if you get some spare time I am interested in understanding why saving as customized templates is not supported in the publishing environment.

    We want to make some simple changes to a blog site (relocate web parts on the page) and use that as a template. Seems there are some disadvantages in choosing to do this via a site definition

    Thanks a lot


  • Hi Timbo,

    internal testing showed a couple of problems when using save as a template with the publishing feature so it was decided not to support this.



  • Hi Guys i am also doing the same work but i am getting the Error Tab as Meron said... but i am unable to get rid of that... can any one help me out how can i do that without any error... i have published every thing. Thanks

  • Hi Hammad,

    using this method is unsupported. Don't expect that it will work. Never create a publishing site from a saved template.



  • Stefan,

    Very useful information.  What I am trying to do is develop a reporting portal that lives on a publishing site.  As the standard report templates are not visible once you've selected a top level publishing site, I'm wondering how you would handle this.

  • You can add other site templates to your site collection from the settings page.

  • I've tried to save the Site as template with browsing and using the /_layouts/savetmpl.aspx screen (like Meron said) and it works fine.

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