Come for the products,
stay for the community

The Atlassian Community can help you and your team get more value out of Atlassian products and practices.

Atlassian Community about banner
Community Members
Community Events
Community Groups

Read only access for unlicensed internal users

I like using confluence and would like to publish content in it for a large number of users, but we only have a small number of editors.  I can't afford to license 6000 users, but I also don't want to make the content available to the public. 

Is there a way to license my content creators (200) and allow for the rest of the organization that is authenticated via SAML to have access to the content read only?


The alternative is to keep using sharepoint or to find some mechanism to export content. 


Any help much appreciated.

5 answers

We have the same issue. With only the Cloud version (vs. the server) being offered we cannot specifically offer 'view only' access to unlicensed users within our global organization. This issue (and the obstacles to document sharing that is creates) has directly led to other departments choosing other documentation platforms. End result - the platform isn't being adopted globally. I have used more than one documentation platform that specifically allows for 'internal users only' to have read-only access.

How about it? Will someone at Atlassian consider a compromise to this situation? Thank you.

Bill Bailey Community Leader Aug 11, 2022

Just curious, what other document platforms have they moved to?

I'm curious too. We are seriously envisaging to move away from Confluence, their pricing model is just crazy. Over 400 people, you want a plugin for only 10 of them, the only way is pay for everybody. It ends-up with a huge bill...

So what other platform have you considered ?

Like gustavo pereyro likes this

Hi all, I don't understand why Atlassian doesn't have Confluence Cloud with a Viewer (unlicensed) users role. We have a significant cost with Confluence Premium with VPN.
This solution is not comfortable, and why is Jira any different with a better solution with its security roles?
Please consider additional costs when migrating from Server to Cloud version, 

Bill Bailey Community Leader Aug 08, 2022

They do have. It is called anon access. What you want it user account with view rights only. Whether server or cloud, that is considered a user. While it would be nice to have such a tier of users, I doubt Atlassian would want to take a hit to their $$$ to implement it.

Thank you very much @Bill Bailey for your answer, but I only want the readers to be users of my organization,  if I enable anonymous in the cloud, my company's information will be public for anyone outside my company


Bill Bailey Community Leader Aug 08, 2022

Yeah, I get that. So your choices are on-premise behind a firewall, or Cloud where you need to license all users. I think nearly all Cloud apps have an all or nothing user concept. Its all about corporate profits, and why Atlassian is push hard for companies to adopt the cloud (plus reduced support costs on their part).

Has this been updated at all? I would like to provide access to content created in Confluence Spaces for people to view without a paid license. I'm not sure why everyone in our firm doesn't have access to view. I can understand licenses for creators but not consumers of content.

Bill Bailey Community Leader Nov 01, 2021

Just to be clear, you can set it up your instance to allow anon users to view.  The poster was also wanting to keep the content confidential, but still have unlicensed viewers. That model is not supported.

So you can have any number of viewers, but anyone with the URL can view the information. 

How do you set that up? I've sent people the link and they all are required to login but they don't have an account. Would it be accessible to anyone externally or only those on our network/vpn?

Bill Bailey Community Leader Nov 01, 2021

In Cloud, you cannot have VPN access controlled. You just set up your spaces to allow anon access rights (under permissions). 

Assigning permissions for anonymous access

Anonymous access, for all intents and purposes, means public access. It's a feature that is disabled by default, and must first be turned on for the whole site by a Confluence admin or a site admin. Learn more about anonymous access

Once anonymous access is enabled, you'll be able to change the permissions for anonymous users.

If you are Server, then a totally different issue. 

I'm curious.... If you have Confluence Cloud Premium to limit your site to trusted IPs and your company has dedicated IPs, could you then setup those IPs within Confluence, turn on anonymous access and technically only those people within those IPs (staff on the VPN) access the site? 

UPDATE TO MY POST:  We set our company dedicated IPs as the only IPs that can access our Confluence Cloud site.  (Under Confluence Admin > Security > IP allowlisting).  Then turned on view for Anonymous.  Of course, staff must be signed on to the company's VPN, but it works great.  Our staff who contribute content have accounts, while other staff are still able to visit and view content.  So far, things are working great this way. 

Like # people like this
Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Nov 19, 2021

@Janet Dixon that approach will work! It's been recently suggested on another question as a solution too.

UPDATE:  While having the dedicated IP in the allowlist is working, having the allowlist enabled has broken some of our add-ons.  It seems to be mostly the free ones.  Any adds that utilize the Atlassian Search API are affected.  The vendors of one of the add-ons affected is trying to get a resolution out of Atlassian.  We'll see how long that takes.  Until then, I have no choice but to uninstall some of my add-ons due to this.

0 votes
Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Jan 08, 2021

Hi Jason, welcome!

If you have Jira Service Management, it's possible for users without a Confluence license to read non-public Confluence content through JSM's customer portal. The intent of this feature is for knowledgebase articles. For example, if someone is about to open a ticket with your IT group because they're having trouble with a phone, the customer portal can show phone troubleshooting articles from Confluence.

Details about this feature are available here. The requirements for your scenario would be:

  • You need Jira Service Management
  • The 6,000 users in your company that aren't licensed for Confluence would need to be added as "customers" in Jira Service Management
  • The Confluence space you want them to have access to will need to be added as the Knowledge Base for a customer portal in Jira Service Management

The major limitation here is that the unlicensed users have to view the pages through the Jira Service Management customer portal. The portal might not be the experience you want these folks to have if they need to browse through the space; and you can't just share a page/link with them for easy viewing.

I hope this is useful knowledge!

Daniel | Atlassian Support


Are there any plans to have read-only confluence users who do not need to have a license?  With so many employees working remotely now the IP AllowList feature just is not feasible.  We need a way to have authenticated users who do not consume licenses or I feel you are going to lose a lot of users to other products like SharePoint or Google.  And forcing users through Jira isn't an acceptable approach either.

Like # people like this
0 votes
Bill Bailey Community Leader Dec 22, 2020

I am afraid not. This is another advantage of the server version, where you could have the server inside your firewall, and then turn on anon viewing. But with Atlassian forcing server customers to data center, that is also not a cheap option. But then again, staying on SharePoint is not a really good option, such an old system.

@Bill Bailey , I agree with you, it is a budget problem because of the difference between the price with two versions of confluence and the truth is that our users do not like working with VPN, if they are comfortable with Jira Cloud, but using the VPN again because of how confluence works is different perception

Thanks very much for you Comments 

Suggest an answer

Log in or Sign up to answer

Atlassian Community Events