Types of Master Page in SharePoint 2010

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January 10, 2013 by Ravi C Khambhati

SharePoint 2010 brings a few new master pages that you may want to know about. There are additional master pages to accommodate both the old and new versions of UI. There are also some simplified pages to take note in.

The first master page we will talk about is v4.master. This is the default team site master page used with version 4 (obviously) of the UI. This will be the master page you typically use. It provides the ribbon bar and all of the other new visual UI changes such as the site actions menu on the left side.

If you did an upgrade to SharePoint 2010 and haven’t transitioned to the new UI yet, the old master page is still in default.master. This looks just like the master page you use in SharePoint v3 today. It doesn’t have the ribbon bar and the site actions menu is still on the right side.

The search pages by default now use minimal.master. This is a really slimmed down master page with next to nothing on it. It doesn’t even have navigation. I’m not sure why they opted to use this page in Search Center, but I think it provides and issue with people trying to leave the search center. The Office Web Applications also use this master page but that makes a little more sense because it provides more screen real estate.

The last page I will mention is simple.master. This page is used for login and error pages. From what I understand, it can’t be customized (I have no idea why), but it can be replaced.

The difference between Site Master Page and System Master Page

Site Master Page: The site master page will be used by all publishing pages.
System Master Page: Use the system master page for all forms and view pages in this site.

How to change master page of Custom Application Page

If you are creating a custom application page, your page must inherit from the LayoutsPageBase base class and must use one of the dynamic tokens listed below.

Dynamic tokens:
~masterurl/default.master – The application page references the master page file that is stored in the MasterUrl property(System Master Page).
~masterurl/custom.master – The application page references the master page file that is stored in the CustomMasterUrl property(Site Master Page).

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