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Using Our Templates with Teammates, Guests, or Clients

Best practices and limitations for working with a team.

Last updated on April 22, 2022

We’re commonly asked if it’s possible to share access to our templates with team members, guests, or even clients.

This is possible; however, you should be aware of the limitations around limiting that sharing.

In summary - Notion allows you to share databases or individual pages. You can’t limit sharing to a specific, filtered view of a database, while restricting access to rows that don’t show up in it.

This means that it’s tough to use one copy of my template for both personal and team uses - unless:

 
  1. You’re ok with your team having potential access to your personal notes, tasks, etc.
  1. You take the time to manually remove their access to specific pages.
 

This limitation applies to Notion in general, not just my templates.

Full Explanation


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This 4-minute video will thoroughly explain Notion’s limitations on database/page sharing.
 
 

The limitation described above can be an issue within my templates because they all use centralized master databases.

Master Databases


Whether you’re using Ultimate Brain, Creator’s Companion, or one of the bundle editions, all of my templates make heavy use of master databases - such as All Tasks, All Notes, Master Content Tracker, etc.

On specific pages, you’ll see filtered views of these databases (which use Linked Database blocks). These filtered views are incredibly useful; their filters limit the view to showing only the database rows that fit the context (i.e. Due Today or content from a specific Channel).

By the same token, using master databases is useful because it allows you to see the same data in multiple different contexts.

For example, consider a task - “Sweep Floors” - that’s part of a larger project called Clean Out Garage.

You might want to see this task in several different contexts:

 
  • Tasks Due This Week
  • All Tasks within the project Clean Out Garage
  • Tasks Assigned to Your Little Brother Kevin
 

If Sweep Floors is in a master database (like All Tasks), then you can simply create multiple Linked Databases, each with a set of filters that achieves the desired context.

 
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Fun Fact: Nearly every other task manager and note-taking app you’ve ever used also makes use of master databases. When you look at a page like Due Today or a specific List, you’re looking at a view with a set of filters. Unlike in Notion, these filters exist behind the scenes. You don’t see them; you only see their effects.

Permission Limitations with Master Databases


As mentioned above, Notion lets us share databases or pages.

What we can’t share are specific, filtered views.

If I want to create a view of my All Tasks database called Assigned to Kevin, I need to make sure that Kevin has access to:

 
  • The page Assigned to Kevin
  • The database All Tasks
 

If I don’t give Kevin access to All Tasks, he’ll be able to see the Linked Database on the Assigned to Kevin page... but it’ll be empty. No database rows will be shown to him, because he doesn’t have access to the source database.

Can’t I Just Lock Kevin’s Database View?


This isn’t an effective way to limit Kevin’s access to the rest of the All Tasks database.

Why? Simple - since Kevin still has permissions set to access All Tasks, he can just:

 
  • Create a new Notion page of his own
  • Create a new Linked Database block
  • Pick All Tasks as the source database
 

Kevin’s new Linked Database view will have no filters; hence, he’ll see every row.

The only exception would be individual pages in All Tasks where his access has been manually removed.

Here, I’m removing access from a specific page in All Tasks for a particular user. Note that he’ll still have access to the rest of the pages in the database.

 
Notion image
 

Notion is aware of this limitation, and have said that it’s something they plan on addressing in the future. However, we don’t have an ETA on when more powerful, view-based permissions tools will arrive.

 
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