SharePoint Quirks: Getting Past Content Type Errors

SharePoint is awesome. It really is. But it sure has its quirks. Case in point – you want to do something simple like deleting a content type. Seems like it should be pretty simple, but you get an error like "Content Types Still In Use" or "Can't Delete This Column While It's Part of a Content Type."

So you look at the documentation, but it's no help at all. It suggests you check SharePoint Manager to see where the content types and columns are being used. Good luck -- that's not going to help.


But like so many things with Sharepoint, the solution is actually painfully simple.

Why is SharePoint Such a Pain?

Before we get to the solution, first a little background. There's actually a pretty good reason why SharePoint is the way it is. It's to protect you from yourself.

Why do you need protection? Because it's awfully easy to delete content by mistake. Microsoft tries to prevent this by offering trash bins. LOTS of trash bins.

 You can find your trash bin either in the left navigation or in the site collection settings if you're in the root of the site collection.

When you delete content, it goes to the appropriate trash bin for your user level. But here's the thing. Only the site collection administrators can empty the end user trash bins. If any deleted lists or columns are still in the trash bins, then any content types or columns that those deleted lists or columns point to, cannot be deleted.

So what can you do about it?

A Simple Solution 

So, the easy, but hard-to-find solution? Have the site collection administrator delete all "End user recycle bin items" and then delete all items from the "Deleted from end user Recycle Bin."


It’s really that simple. You should now be able to delete your orphaned columns and content types.


Still having trouble? Liquid Mercury Solutions helps all kinds of businesses deal with the quirks of their SharePoint systems. Let us know how we can help.