User can’t edit a node – Drupal troubleshooting

From time to time a user may not be able to edit a Drupal node and you end up tearing your hair out trying to figure out why. Sometimes the solution is obvious, and sometimes it is not. This post will take you through some of the main reasons for the problem along with suggested solutions.

The Problem

When viewing a node (page), a user with the correct permissions should see an edit tab at the page. The problem here occurs when the user can not see the edit tab at the top and therefore can not edit the node.

Edit tab visible (as it should be):
Edit tab visible

Edit tab missing:
Edit tab visible

Possible causes and solutions

User’s role does not have permission to edit the content type

All users belong to a role, whether you have created roles or not. If you have not created any roles yourself, then users with accounts will be given the “authenticated user” role. The user must have access to edit the relevant type of node.

For example, if you want all authenticated users to be able to edit the page content type, then you need to tick “edit page content” for authenticated users in access control.
Access control url:
Drupal 5:
Drupal 6:

Access control

Node permissions need to be rebuilt

If you are using an access control module (such as Content Access) then from time to time you may need to rebuild the permissions table. You will find a button to do this under "Post settings". This button will only appear if you are using an access control module.

Post settings -> Rebuild permissions
Rebuild Permissions

Users role does not have permissions to use the input format

This is a weird one that trips many people up. The user must have permission to use the input format that the node uses. If, for example, the users role does not have access to “Full HTML” but one of the text areas in the node is set to Full HTML, then users who belong to that role will not be able access to edit the node.

No roles are allow to use full html:
No role can use Full HTML

But the node body is set to full html:
Node input format set to Full HTML

The easy solution here is allow the user's role (authenticated user) to use Full HTML, or mark it as the default.
Full HTML input format

Edit tab is missing

The edit tab maybe missing from your page. Check page.tpl.php in your theme. It should include something like this:

if ($tabs): print $tabs; endif;

The variable $tabs contains the view and edit tab. If that is missing, the edit tab will not appear at all.

Edit tab is hiding under title

The edit tab may be hiding under your title. If you have Firebug, you should be able to check to see if the edit tab is there or not. There could be a CSS error causing it to sit under the title.

ADDED 10 Aug 2010 - Permissions

One of the comments below makes another important point regarding permissions. I will test it out and add it properly to this post in due course. In the mean time, take a look at the comment:

If you liked this, you'll love my book, Master Drupal Module Development.

"..the must have drupal developers book"


I spent ages looking around the site permissions only to read your post and realise that it was the input filter permissions that tripped me up. Thanks heaps for the post, saved me a lot of frustration.

Who knows - maybe it would be a good idea to move filters permissions to user administration section? A small contribution to Drupal's development.

Thanks for the post.

It was the default input type problem. Thank you!

well that's something i was looking so logn..the matter of fact is that, your write up has opened some of the most difficult knot in terms of such an important topic

I'd neglected to include the "tabs" variable on my custom theme. This helps make the page much more usable to admins.

Thanks a lot for above post!!! Saved my hours

Thanks. Very usefull! Has solved my problem. The cause was that the input formats werer not porperly configured.

Just wanted to say thanks....turned out to be the input format permissions. I would never have thought to look there ;)

Input format it was...Thank you for saving me even more time looking for this.

You've got to admit though, that is a great feature. Drupal rocks !

you rock, thanks.


I stumbled upon your post when googling for an answer to my problem. Basically, none of the above seemed to work. Yet, I am still unable to view my own profile (created with Advanced Profile Kit). And this occurs even with my admin profile. I did disable the primary links menu through some custom modules I created for this. But right now, when I access the edit profile page, I am redirected to the not authorised view page message.
Any views more than welcome ;-)
Happy New Year

Thank you for taking the time to document and post this very helpful troubleshooting guide.

Thank you! I didn't know about filters, it helps (=

Fantastic post. It was that last bit - the input formats - that was tripping me up. Never would have figured that out on my own - much thanks!

Hey thanks a lot for this .. Saved lots of debugging for this non existent bug.

Brilliant - I too had overlooked (forgotten!) that input type can cause this problem. Thanks for saving me more hours of frustrated trial and error.

Great tutorial, very comprehensive. :) AND (not but) In my case, I wanted a publisher to edit content submitted by the admin and this article wasn't able to resolve that. I was able to solve my issue through the comments, however.

I noticed several users mentioning something about "filters" and I wasn't really sure what they were talking about, so I checked the "administer filters" line under "Filter Module" for that role and that user was then able to edit the pages in question.

I'm not sure if this is obvious once more familiar with drupal, but I was a bit in the dark on this one so I thought I'd add an explicit reference to what fixed it for me. Could you add this to your tutorial as well? Might save someone a few extra minutes? Nice work, thought I'd post this here because this is the best one I've found for this. (using drupal 6.16)

Thanks for that. Helped me out when I was getting quite frustrated.

Thank you very much!

Input format thing resolved my problem.

Great! It was the input format for me. Roles didn't have permission to use it. Thanks for this.

I'm just glad I consulted this website before I tore any of my hair's thin enough already.


+1 here. as I see it, not being told you cannot edit because of the input format is pretty serious, usability-wise. we should totally file an issue at cheers!

Unfortunately, none of these ideas worked for me and I'm _still_ pulling my hair our. Arg! Anyway... Thanks for the info. ;)

Why cant I see the page in preview moe. Where to look for the settings

Thank you for this excellent tutorial! - it was the input format permissions that tripped me up.

I can understand, from a security perspective, why Drupal would not display more information when access is denied, but an admin feature where you could toggle on "verbose" warnings that show all of the permissions being checked (and failed) would be a great addition.

Thanks for the toturial..

I am having an issue with some nodes, in which the edit tab is available, but when an admin (including the Site Admin) clicks Save, the browser hangs forever and will not lock in any edit changes (revision, title, book outline, etc.). This is only true with some nodes, not others. Can there be corrupted nodes, and if so, is there a way to fix them?

Blair Wadman's picture

Doesn't sound like that is related to the issue outlined in this post. It is possible that nodes are corrupted. There could be a whole range of issues there. Does it happen with certain content types? Is there any code in the nodes, such as PHP or Javascript?

No code in the nodes. I am finding that Drupal sometimes hangs when I (or other users) attempt to create a new post, or edit certain posts. It is inconsistently distributed across node types (i.e. it happens with book pages, pages, and now forum entries -- but only certain nodes will be "blocked").

Another tip should be added to this article:


In the permissions page:
Filter Module
Administer Filters

UNCHECKED = No edit tabs shown on top of nodes.

CHECKED = Edit tabs shown on top of nodes.


I completely ignored it for the longest time because I thought "Filters" meant it was related to something to do with searches and filtering results of searches.

Only through 30 mins of trial-and-error did I pin-point my problem to this permission.

I am using Drupal 6.

Blair Wadman's picture

Thanks for adding another tip, much appreciated. I have added a link to this comment at the bottom of the post. I will add the tip properly with a screen grab in due course.

Wow! I've been going crazy for about 2 weeks.. I couldn't get a user access to edit a page for the life of me (Drupal 6). it was this simple checkbox. THANK YOU.

As many others, input format was to blame for my case. Thanks, mate!

Great post...filter type permission never crossed my mind.

Wow - that last tip about Administer Filters really saved me a lot of time! Thanks for the article - very useful.

GREAT !!! thanks for that tips :-)

The input format thing got me again. Funny how easy it is to forget that one. Thanks for the good post.

same problem i am facing, but dint get the solution till now.
i have use everything, what is said above.
My problem is,

my admin user do not have edit button how will i get it back.?
Its urgent please help

This could have take me hours. Thanks for your compilation.

Thanks so much for this. Everything else I knew pretty much, but the input filter was the problem. I think I may have often in the past recreated nodes not understanding it was the input filter all the while.


Thanks!!!! we had the wrong filter :)

I had this on a particular node type.
Turned out to be the Block Edit module:

Removed the module (which I had stopped using anyway) and the tabs came back.

Perfekt troubleshooting guide.
Thank you so much!

DO NOT grant the 'administer filters' permission except to trusted administrative roles, as it's a security risk. If this seems to fix node editing, that's merely an indication that the real root of the problem is with your input formats - users not having access to the input format of the node body for example - and you should fix that instead. The 'administer filters' permission allows users to bypass all restrictions on input formats and filters, including the restrictions that prevent them injecting XSS attacks or (if the module is enabled) executing arbitrary PHP code on your site.

Actually, setting Full HTML as the default filter or otherwise giving untrusted users access to use it is also a security risk, unless you add a security filter to it like the HTML filter or the htmlpurifier module for example.

THANK YOU so much for these tips.

As an "advanced" Drupal user I thought I knew everything about this CMS but have learned a few things from this of these steps saved the day!

Thanks so much, I could never figure this out. Any page I edited became locked for normal users because I set the type to Full HTML instead of Filtered!!

Good post. I’m been looking for topics as interesting as this.Very informative and information presented very well,
i really liked reading your blog which has delivered a great information about the troubleshooting process in drupal.I was facing the edit tab missing error but your information has helped me to rectify that problem.


I am in a very peculiar problem. I can see View/ Edit tabs for all content types, except one. I am logged in as user 1 account. The content type in question is webform. I don't have any separate tpl file for it.

Please help!

"UNCHECKED = No edit tabs shown on top of nodes.
CHECKED = Edit tabs shown on top of nodes."

Thanks a lot! Very very usefull!!!!!!


Add new comment