Stage 6: Upload and apply a new master page to a publishing site

This is a blog post in the series “How to set up a product-centric website in SharePoint Server 2013”.  In this series, I'll use data from a fictitious company called "Contoso" to show you how to use search features to set up a website based on product catalog data.
Note: Most of the features described in this series are not available in SharePoint 2013 Online.

For an overview of the blog posts in this series, go to How to set up a product-centric website in SharePoint Server 2013.


Quick overview

As described in Stage 5: Connect your publishing site to a catalog, we connected the publishing site to our catalog. When we connected, SharePoint Server 2013 automatically created some pages for us, on which some search results where shown. These pages all have the standard SharePoint look, so now it is time to give it a "Contoso look".


In this blog post, we'll learn:


Note: This blog post will not cover how to create a master page. It will only cover how to upload and apply an already finalized master page file and other design files that are stored locally on my computer. These files are not available for download.

For information about how to create a master page, see Overview of Design Manager in SharePoint 2013 and How to: Convert an HTML file into a master page in SharePoint Server 2013.

Start stage 6

About the master page

When visitors browse our Contoso site, they'll see different content on different pages. The displayed content is a combination of a master page and page layouts.

A master page defines the common layout and interface that you see on all your webpages, such as logo, title and navigation menu.

Layout and interface for the individual pages, such as the home page, or the page that displays Audio products, are handled by page layouts. I'll talk more about them in later blog posts.

SharePoint page model


In previous versions of SharePoint, you had to design master pages in ASP.NET. These master pages also had to include SharePoint specific markup, such as controls and content placeholders.

In SharePoint Server 2013, you can create a master page in HTML format, and SharePoint Server 2013 will convert this into an ASP.NET page for you.  This means that when you design your master page, you can do this in your favorite HTML editor, focus on HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and you don't have to worry about ASP.NET or SharePoint-specific markup.

When you add an HTML master page to SharePoint Server 2013, an associated ASP.NET master page will be automatically created.  Because the two files are associated, any changes you make to the HTML master page will be automatically updated in the associated ASP.NET master page .

For more information, see Overview of the SharePoint 2013 page model.


About the Master Page Gallery

In our scenario, we have an HTML master page and some design assets, such as a CSS file and images, that we want to upload and apply to our Contoso site. All these files are stored on my local computer.

SharePoint expects to find design files in the Master Page Gallery, so this is where we should upload the files. To get to the Master Page Gallery, go to Site Settings --> Master pages and page layouts.

Master Page Gallery

You can use the Upload Document button to upload a single file to the Master Page Gallery. However, using this button every time you want to add a document can be somewhat cumbersome. To make life easy for yourself, you can map your network drive. This will enable you to drag and drop files into the Master Page Gallery with Windows Explorer.


How to map your network drive

  1. From Settings menu, select Design Manager

Select Design Manager

  1.  On the Design Manager Welcome page, click 3. Upload Design Files.

Upload Design Files

  1. On the Upload Design Files page, copy the URL to your design files.

URL to Master Page Gallery


Note: The next steps will vary depending on your computer's operating system. My computer is running Windows 8, so I will show you how to map your network drive from Windows 8.

  1. Open Windows Explorer. Right click on Network, and select Map network drive.

Map Network Drive

  1. In the Folder field, paste the URL that you copied in step 3. Click Finish.

Finish mapping network drive

  1. An explorer window with your Master Page Gallery content opens.

Master Page Gallery in explorer



 How to turn off versioning for the Master Page Gallery

In our scenario, I am not using SharePoint workflows for approval. My files have already been approved, so before I upload a new master page, I want to turn off versioning for the Master Page Gallery.

To turn off versioning for the Master Page Gallery:

  1. On the LIBRARY tab, click Library Settings.
  2. On the Settings page, click Versioning settings.
  3. On the Versioning Settings page, in the Content Approval section, for Require content approval for submitted items, select No.
  4. In the Document Version History section, for Create a version each time you edit a file in this document library, select No versioning.
  5. In the Require Check Out section, for Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited, select No.

Turn off versioning


Now we're ready to upload a new master page.


How to upload a new master page

Because we have mapped our network drive, uploading a new master page becomes extremely easy. Simply drag and drop the file into your Master Page Gallery.

Drag and drop design files


If you have any associated design files, such as CSS files or images, you can drag and drop these into the Master Page Gallery as well.

In SharePoint, refresh the Master Page Gallery page to see that the new HTML master page has been added. However, note that an associated ASP.NET master page has not yet been created.

HTML master page is added


Because we dragged and dropped the HTML master page into the Master Page Galley, the content type associated with the file is Design File. For SharePoint Server 2013 to create an associated ASP.NET master page, we have to change the content type for the newly uploaded HTML master file. This is done by changing the file properties.

To change the file properties:

  1. On the Master Page Gallery page, select the newly uploaded master page, and then click Edit Properties.

Edit Properties of file

  1. In the Content Type section, select HTML Master Page.
  2. In the Compatible UI Version(s) section, select 15.

Set properties of file

On the Master Page Gallery page, we can see that an associated ASP.NET master page has been created.

ASP.NET file created


We are now ready to apply our new master page.


How to apply a new master page

To apply a new master page:

  1. From the Site Settings page, click Master page (under Look and Feel).
  2. From the Site Master Page section, from the Specify a master page to be used by this site and all sites that inherit from it, select the newly uploaded master page. In our scenario, this is ContosoElectronicsMaster.

Apply new master page


By clicking on the Audio page, we verify that our new master page is now being used.

New master page in use


The next step is to start working on the page layouts.




Next blog article in this series
Stage 7: Upload page layouts and create new pages in a publishing site




Additional Resources





Comments (31)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am having difficulty mapping the network Drive. I follow the steps above, but when I click Finish, I get an error message stating that 'Windows cannot access {URL}' where {URL} is the URL from the Design Manager: Upload Design Files page. Any ideas?


  2. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Kojo,

    Glad you like the article 🙂

    No, the Contoso Electronics material is not available for download.


  3. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Kojo,

    Regarding your issue with the photos not showing up. Have you mapped the correct managed property in your display template?…/jj945138.aspx


  4. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi CL,

    It's difficult to say what your exact problem could be. Can you verify that your HTML master page has content type Html Master Page, and that a corresponding .master page has been successfully created?


  5. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Steve,

    Sorry, I have never seen this error message before. Have you tried to just click the link on the Design Manager page? If so, do you get the same error message?


  6. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi James,

    The files are for Microsoft internal use only.


  7. CL Wood says:

    Bella, I've gone through this process on SharePoint 2013 (Office 365), but when I go to select the master page, it does not show up as one of the available choices. I only see "oslo" and "seattle". But my master page HTML and its associated ASP file do appear under the master page gallery.

  8. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi S,

    No, you can’t nest master pages in SharePoint 2013.  For more information, see…/jj191506.aspx

    Hope this helps.


  9. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Manoj,

    The Master Page was based on the seattle master page, and the page layouts were based on the two page layouts that were automatically created when I connected my publishing site to my catalog.


  10. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi RK,

    What permission level do you currently have?


  11. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Marco,

    Thanks for the feecback 🙂

    Currently, I don’t plan to highlight what is not included in SharePoint online.  But take a look at the different service descriptions:…/jj819267.aspx

    Hope this can help you out.


  12. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Steve,

    Sorry, I don’t know this feature very well, so don’t have any other troubleshooting tips 🙁
    I hope you’ll be able to find a solution.


  13. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Tyler,

    It’s expected behavior that items from a connected catalog are not displayed when search results are scoped to a publishing site. If you want to display search results from you catalog, you should set up a custom search results page, and configure the Search Results Web Part accordingly.

    Hope this helps.


  14. NTI - Steve Thompson says:

    Hi Bella, Thanks for the feedback on mapping a drive. The link in Design Manager is http://{machinename}/search/_catalogs/masterpage/. Clicking the link will attempt to navigate to this URL: file:\{machinename}@80search_catalogsmasterpage, and IE shows a page with the message "This page can't be displayed'. My assumption is that this is either a network, IIS, or rights issue. The user is an administrator on both the local machine and the SharePoint WFE {machinename}. Any help in troubleshooting this issue is appreciated. – Steve

  15. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Khushi,

    No, you can not assign one master page to your homepage, and another master page to the rest of your pages.

    For more information, see


  16. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi basavaraja,

    I suggest you contact Microsoft Support with your question.


  17. Marco Rizzi says:

    Great article. Could be interesting to highlight what is missing on SharePoint online.


  18. james says:

    You've already explicitly said the files aren't available for download, but why so? I would like to follow this process myself as a learning exercise and making the files used available for download would be a great help. Is there any chance of making them available?

    Otherwise thanks for this very helpful series.


  19. S says:

    Hi There,

    Is it possible to use nested master pages in SharePoint 2013?

    and if you can, then how do you apply it to the master html page.



  20. Kojo says:


    Thanks so much for the article. Any way we can download the master pages and display templates used in this article? That would help us start off and make some modifications.


  21. Kojo says:

    am having issues letting the photo show up on the publishing site. Also, are you planning on blogging on Display templates?

    Thanks for showing us some of the fine capabilities of SharePoint.

  22. Bella,

    Thanks so much for the article.

  23. Devon Jolie says:

    Every time I follow these steps and try to apply my master page, I get an error page. It says File not found.  I can select the master page from the drop down list but when I apply it, suddenly it says it's missing. Do you have any idea why it would do this?

  24. Bella_Engen says:

    Hi Devon,

    I have never seen this behavior, but did you verify that your HTML master page was successfully converted?  To do this, from the Settings menu, select Design Manager, and then click  4. Edit Master Pages in the left menu. The status of your master page should be “Conversion successful”.  Is this the case?


  25. RK says:

    Hi Bella ,

    above information was very helpful..

    i am able to open file share …i.e. URL: file:\{machinename}@80search_catalogsmasterpage, but am not able to see the content under folder I missing permissions here ..can you please suggest me ?

  26. Tyler Johnson says:

    Bella, do you expect products to show as results in the "search this site" search? Technically catalog is another site/site collection, but the catalog is "connected." They are not showing for me and I was wondering if that is an issue or expected behavior.

  27. Khushi says:

    Hi there, Could I assign unique masterpage to just one page (Homepage). Rest can use OOB?


  28. Manoj says:

    Hi Bella,
    I have only read through till your stage 7 but this is really impressive stuff, worth reading. Great work.

    Just curious, on what OOB templates did you based your custom Master Page and page layouts?

  29. Anonymous says:

    Stage 6: Upload and apply a new master page to a publishing site – SharePoint IT Pro Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

  30. prasanna says:

    Thanks.. Very Nice article.

  31. basavaraja says:

    Nice Article. I have installed the share point server, but the page is not displaying peroperly.The imgs are not displaying and content is also not displaying in properformat

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