I recently received a question regarding site and system master pages in SharePoint. It seems that the purpose of these two master pages is not clear to everyone so here is a short summary:
By default the following rule applies:
You cannot change the default behavior - but you can use SharePoint Designer to change the master page assignment for individual pages if required.
If you open a page in SharePoint Designer you can see a MasterPageFile setting which can be modified:
Hey Stefan, did you mean to say that the default.master will display the system master page, and the custom.master will display the site master page?
Yes. Sorry :-)
Thanks for this, but what I don't understand is what IS a publishing page exactly? & how is that different from a view page?
see here: sharepoint.microsoft.com/.../Post.aspx