Guide to Manual Sharing in Salesforce

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On the list of things that confuse users (and sometimes even admins), record sharing has got to be right at the top. In particular, manual sharing in Salesforce – where you share a single record with a user or users – can be a particular struggle.

Manual sharing was available in Salesforce Classic but didn’t make it into Lightning Experience until the Spring ‘21 release. This article will show you how and when to manually share a record in Lightning Experience.

What Is Sharing in Salesforce?

There’s so much data in Salesforce and so many ways to share it. A lot of sharing within Salesforce is determined by an admin and includes organization-wide defaults, sharing rules, and roles. However, there are ways for users to share specific data.

How you share something will vary, depending on what you are trying to share, as well as the sharing settings in your org. For example, how you share a record is different to how you share a report/report folder or even a list view. In this article, we’re going to be focusing on how to manually share individual Salesforce records.

Before we dive in, let’s talk about why you might need to manually share a record. The only orgs that might need manual sharing in Salesforce are those where the default internal access for a given object is set to “Private” or to “Public Read Only”. You can find this by navigating to Setup, followed by Sharing Settings, and then reviewing the Default Internal Access columns for all objects.

In this situation, “Private” means that only the owner or shared users can see the record at all – for other users, that record is essentially invisible. “Public Read Only” means that all users can see the record, but only the shared users can edit it.

It’s important to remember that this is just the default internal access – there are a few ways to grant access to records, but this is what your org is set to by default. If someone can see a private record they shouldn’t be able to see, this means they’re being granted access via another method. If someone can’t see something, it means the access is probably set to “private” and they have not been granted access.

How to Manually Share a Record in Salesforce

Sharing a record simply means enabling a given user to see (or edit) a particular record. In this example, our Accounts and Opportunities are set to private. So, Opportunity owners can only see their Opportunities (and managers can see their subordinates below them in the role hierarchy) but not each other’s Opportunities.

In this scenario, the VPs can see their subordinates’ Opportunities, but the reps cannot see anything but their own Opportunities. Now, let’s say that Mike is going on a four-week vacation, and the VP wants Carla to work on Mike’s Opportunities while he’s away. There are three Opportunities that Carla will need to work on.

We don’t want to change the role hierarchy as a temporary measure, and we don’t want to change anyone’s permissions. So the best option for this scenario is manual sharing. Sharing something manually by itself is easy enough – navigate to the Opportunity and click the Sharing button:

Type in the name of the person you want to share the record with, set the Opportunity Access to either Read Only or Read/Write, and click Save.

If you want to see who already has access to a particular record, click on Sharing Hierarchy to view a list of people and what type of access they have.

Mike Smith has “Full Access” because he’s the record owner. Stacy has “Full Access” because she is the system administrator. The other two are standard users, so we can ignore those. Repeat these manual sharing steps on whichever records need to be shared.

If you’re looking at a record and you do not see the “Sharing” buttons, as in this example…

… It could be because this object is not set to “Private” – it’s likely that the default is “Public”, and so everyone can see it, sharing is not necessary. (It could also be because the button has been removed, so be sure to check the page layout if you know the Sharing Settings are on “Private”.) Whether your object is set to “Private” or to “Public Read Only” the steps to share it with someone (grant them visibility, or grant them edit access) are the same.

Who Can Share a Record?

Any person can follow these sharing steps, as long as they have full access to the record. This includes system administrators, the record owner, anyone above the record owner in the role hierarchy, or anyone who has been granted full access via sharing (manual or rules).

Who Can I Share With?

You can share a record with anyone who has, as a minimum, access to view a particular object. Let’s say, for example, that Mike works in customer support. He is going to help me answer some technical questions on an Opportunity, so I want to manually share an Opportunity record with him.

However, in this fake company, Customer Support Profile Users do not have “view” access on the Opportunity object at all. So even though it looks like it’s shared, and there was no error when I created this manual sharing in Salesforce, Mike will get an error if he tries to go to this Opportunity (even if I send him a direct link).

And if Mike is sneaky and tries to get around it by going to Classic, he’ll see this:

What if the Record Owner Is Changed?

When a record owner is changed, all manual sharing is removed from that record. Any automatic sharing will remain, but if you still need to share this record with a given person, you’ll have to share it manually. If you’d like to vote for the idea to keep manual sharing after a record owner is changed, you can do so via the IdeaExchange here.


All of the information above represents just a small piece of the overall sharing capabilities of Salesforce. But it’s great to learn because it’s a fast and easy way to share just a few records without changing any sharing rules or anyone’s profile or permissions (or anything else!).

The best part about manual sharing in Salesforce is that you can train your users to help themselves – which allows you to focus on more demanding tasks.

I hope you find this helpful. Let me know if you have any questions about sharing in the comments below!

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