Greyed out Column Permissions in SSMS
Published: Nov 28, 2021
I’ve had this question a few times now so I thought I would follow up my last post on column permissions with this little note about the SSMS implementation.

Basically, I’ve had people ask “Why can’t I add Column Permissions in SSMS? It’s always greyed out.”. This is what they’re talking about:

You can see above that the "Column Permissions" box ix grey and inaccessible. So how can you add column permissions if the button is greyed out? Well it’s actually a little misleading but makes sense when you know what it’s doing.

We’ll create a quick user in the AdventureWorks database:

if exists
select *
from sys.sysusers
where name = 'bob'
user bob

create user bob without login;

Now we can go back to our Permissions screen and we click Search:

Find and add our user:

We can see that we can still not access user permissions:

The reason is simple, although not obvious at all… you need to use the “Permissions” box at the bottom to check “Grant” against “Select”. Once you have done this the Column Permissions button will suddenly enable:

And now you can press the button and choose your specific column level access:

I have to admit this does seem odd when you first encounter it, but once you realise that you need to select the main permission first and then filter down to column level then it starts to make sense.

Hope this helps.

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