What is a user?

A user is someone who can log in to the back-end of your KnowledgeOwl account to create and edit content, customize settings, or view reporting. Users are your admins and authors, and they are different than the people who can view your content, who we call readers.

All users are assigned to specific knowledge bases with a particular role for that knowledge base. That role determines what actions a user can complete in a knowledge base. So an individual user account can have editor permissions on one knowledge base, writer permissions on another, and no access to a third knowledge base. You can create custom roles for your users, too.

In addition to their knowledge base + role assignments, users can have two additional administrative permissions:

  • Full Account Admin: has the ability to edit other users' accounts and other high-level administrative settings; can assign and remove users from knowledge bases (including themselves). This shows the Users, API, and Webhooks menu options under Your Account.
  • Admin access to readers: with this access, users see the Readers option under Your Account, can view all reader accounts across all your knowledge bases, and can create, delete, and edit existing readers.

User permissions

KnowledgeOwl has four levels of user permissions.

You can think of these permissions as answering several questions:

  • Which knowledge bases do I have access to? (Knowledge Base Roles)
  • What actions can I complete in those knowledge bases? (Knowledge Base Roles + Admin Rights)
  • Which content can I complete those actions on? (User Teams)
  • Which content can I see in those knowledge bases? (Reader Groups)
  1. Admin Rights
    Users with Full Account Admin permissions can perform all actions in your account, including adding new users; managing user permissions; creating and deleting API keys; updating account and billing information; creating and managing readers, groups, and reader settings; and cancelling your account. Users can be optionally be given Admin access to readers – which allows them to create and manage reader, groups, and reader settings –  without the other Full Account Admin actions.
  2. Knowledge Base Roles
    Roles determine which actions a user can complete in the knowledge base. You specify what role a user has for each knowledge base in your account. KnowledgeOwl has two default roles, Editor and Writer, as well as the ability for you to create Custom Roles to further restrict what actions different users are able to perform in your knowledge base.  A user with no access will not see the knowledge base.
  3. User Teams
    You can control which content individual users are able to edit using User Teams. When you create a User Team, you can restrict editing access for categories and articles to the team. Only users who are part of the team will be able to edit restricted articles, or articles within a restricted category.
  4. Reader Groups
    You can control what content individual users can see using reader groups. By default, all users have access to see all content. When you create a reader group, you can restrict categories and articles to that group. If you choose to restrict a user to a reader group, the user will only be able to see content that is not restricted or that is restricted to their reader group

Add a user

Users who are full account admins can add new users under Your Account > Users.

When you add a new user, an invitation email will be sent and it includes a temporary password. When the new user first logs in to KnowledgeOwl, they will be asked to update their password.

To add a new user:

  1. Go to Your Account > Users.
  2. Click the + Add User button near the top.
    If you don't see the + Add User button, and instead you see an Upgrade for More User Seats button, you do not have any available user seats. You can add them by clicking that upgrade button or going to Your Account > Account to upgrade the number of user seats in your trial or account.
  3. Clicking the + Add User button will open the Edit User screen. You'll need to:
    • Add the user's account details
    • Add access to at least one knowledge base
    • Optional: assign the user to one or more user teams
    • Optional: assign the user to one or more reader groups
    • Save your changes.

Let's walk through each section in more detail.

User account details

The user account details (top section) establish the login details and admin privileges for this user.

  1. Email Address (required): This email address is where the user welcome email will be sent; it also acts as the user's username.
  2. First Name (recommended, will display for author/log purposes)
  3. Last Name (recommended, will display for author/log purposes)
  4. Login Type (required, defaults to Self administered username and password) -- see User login type for more information
  5. Picture / Icon (optional)
  6. Admin Rights - Full Account Admin (optional) grants access to:
    •  Your Account > Account (Billing)
    • Your Account > Users (create, delete, edit users)
    • Your Account > Readers (create, delete, edit readers)
    • Your Account > API (API keys)
    • Your Account > Webhooks
  7. Admin Rights - Admin access to readers (optional) grants access to Your Account > Readers only

Knowledge Base Access

All users are required to have access to at least one knowledge base.

  1. Click the + Add KB Access button.
  2. Select the Knowledge Base you want this user to access from the dropdown.
  3. Select the Access (role) you want this user to have for this knowledge base. Editor and Writer are built-in roles; additional roles listed here will depend on whether you've created Custom roles. See What is the difference between an editor and a writer? and the custom role permissions breakdown for these roles' permissions.
  4. Click the Add KB button to save these assignments.
  5. Once you click Add KB, you'll see the knowledge base and the role displayed:
    The user's knowledge base(s) and assigned role are displayed
  6. Repeat this process for each knowledge base you'd like to grant this user access to.
  7. Once you've completed this steps, you can Save the user. The last two sections are optional.

User Teams

While roles decide which actions a user can complete, user teams decide which content a user can interact with. By default, No existing user teams will display here.

If you have a list of user teams, check the boxes next to the appropriate teams here and save.

See What are user teams? and Create user teams for more information.

Reader Groups

By default, users have access to all reader groups in your knowledge base, and can see content relating to all readers. If you'd like to limit this user to only see content restricted to particular reader groups, check the boxes next to the appropriate groups here and save.

Edit users and permissions

Users with full account admin access can manage all users under Your Account > Users.

The Users page displays all users and permissions along with the date of their last activity in

You can edit an individual user by clicking on their name and editing their user details.

Reset a user password

Users can request a password reset email on the KnowledgeOwl login page. Users can also change their own password under Account > My Settings.

Users with full account admin access can also reset passwords for other users. To do so:

  1. Go to Your Account > Users.
  2. Click on the user whose password you'd like to reset.
  3. Click the Reset Password button.
    Click the Resest Password button
  4. You'll have the option to email the user directions to reset their own password or assign a custom temporary password. 
    • If you select the option to email directions to reset their own password, the user will receive an email with a one-time link that they can click to login and reset their own password. This works well if you want the user to be automatically notified of the password reset. To send the directions and link, select this option and click the Save button.
      Email the user a randomly generated password
    • To assign a custom temporary password, select that option and enter the password of your choice. Then click the Save button. This works well if you'd like to test the reset yourself to troubleshoot login issues, or if you want to notify the user of the temp password yourself directly.
      Choose the temporary password you'd like to use
  5. When the user logs in with the reset link or the temporary password, they will be asked to update their password.

User login type

By default, users are created with self-administered usernames and passwords. This means that, even when you have SAML/SSO enabled for your knowledge base overall, KnowledgeOwl will store a password for each of your users and allow them to log in using that username/password combination via

If you would like to prevent this alternate login and force your users to authenticate using SAML/SSO, you can change the Login Type to "SAML login via knowledge base":

  1. Open the user (or create a new user).
  2. In Login Type, select the option next to "SAML login via knowledge base".
  3. SSO ID (optional): By default, the user's email address will be used as their SSO ID. If your SSO system uses an ID different ID for this user, add that ID here. Otherwise, leave it blank.
  4. SAML KB: Select the knowledge base the user needs to log in through. You must have a knowledge base with a SAML integration configured for this to work.
    Sample user with SAML login via knowledge base, and separate SSO ID from the email address
  5. As with other users, set the Admin Rights, KB Access, Reader Groups, and User Teams that are appropriate.
  6. Save the user.  

This setting basically says: "If the user tries to log in normally (using, don't let them use their username/password and send them to the SAML login page for the KB I choose instead."

This setting does not need to be enabled for your users to be able to log into the application via SAML.

When you set a user's login type to SAML login via knowledge base as you're creating their account, they will also receive a customized welcome email. Instead of the link to, it will display the URL of your knowledge base's SAML login and steps on how to access the KnowledgeOwl app from there (the URL in Step 1 will change based on your settings):

Note: if you set a user to SAML login via knowledge base and your SAML/SSO has an issue, your users will be locked out of KnowledgeOwl. Most customers keep username and password self-administered so that their users have an alternate way to log in in cases of issues with SAML/SSO. Generally only customers with very strict security requirements enable this option.

What is the difference between an editor and a writer?

KnowledgeOwl comes with two default user roles:

  • Editor: can perform all actions in a knowledge base, including customizing any setting
  • Writer: can perform any action related to creating and editing content; does not have access to customize settings

Here's a full breakdown of each role's permissions:

Create any type of new article:
  • From scratch
  • From a template
  • From any existing article
  • Content linked to an existing article
Edit articles that are in draft modeXX
Edit articles that are publishedXX
Create new versions of articlesXX
Publish articles / versions that are in draft modeXX
Move / re-order articlesXX
Delete articlesXX
Create new categoriesXX
Edit categoriesXX
Move / re-order categoriesXX
Delete categoriesXX
Edit home page contentXX
Create new commentsXX
Approve submitted commentsXX
Delete submitted commentsXX
Add glossary termsXX
Edit glossary termsXX
Delete glossary termsXX
Add snippetsXX
Edit snippetsXX
Delete snippetsXX
Edit filesXX
Delete filesXX
Add existing tags to articlesXX
Edit existing tagsXX
Add new tagsXX
Remove tags from articlesXX
Delete tagsXX
Create and manage exports - PDFs / HTML ZipX
Import contentX
Update article ratings settingsX
Update article favorites settings

Update basic settingsX
Update comment settingsX
Update contact form settingsX
Update PDF settingsX
Update search settings and synonymsX
Update security settingsX
Update style / themingX
Update subscription settingsX
Update widget settingsX
View Reporting > DashboardXX
View Reporting > Contact FormXX
View Reporting > WidgetXX
View Reporting > CommentsXX
Run Broken Links ReportXX

To further restrict what actions a user can perform, create a custom role.

Export a list of users

If you have permissions to view Your Account > Users, you have permission to Export all users to CSV:

Clicking this link will generate a CSV file that will display:

  • User ID: a random ID we assign to the user behind the scenes; you can ignore this.
  • Last name
  • First name
  • Email
  • Admin: Whether the user is designated as a full admin (Yes/No)
  • Last Activity: the date/timestamp when they last did anything in KnowledgeOwl
  • Last Login: the date-timestamp when they last logged in to KnowledgeOwl. Since our login page supports "Keep me logged in" options, sometimes this date is very different from date of Last Activity. If you're trying to see who's actively using KO, Last Activity is a better measure!
  • User Teams (if more than one, these will appear in a comma-separated list)
  • Reader Groups (if more than one, these will appear in a comma-separated list)
  • One column for each knowledge base in your account--if the user has access to the knowledge base, the role they have will display in the knowledge base's column

Here's a sample:

This export can make it easier to audit your users' access and see when they've logged in/been active.

Deleting a user

Only users with full admin privileges can delete other users. See What happens when I delete a user? for more info on what happens once you delete a user.

To delete a user:

  1. Go to Your Account > Users.
  2. Find or search for the user you'd like to delete.
  3. Check the box to the left of their name.
  4. Click the Delete link above the user list.
  5. When the confirmation window appears, be sure that the user(s) listed there are the ones you intend to delete, and click OK to finish deleting them.
  6. If this user was listed as the author for any articles, we recommend updating those articles to have a new author. The easiest way to do so is to:

Once the user is no longer listed as an author for any articles, their name will disappear from the Author dropdown and filter fields. See What happens when I delete a user? for more information.

What happens when I delete a user?

When you delete a user, they will no longer be able to log in to KnowledgeOwl.


Deleting a user will not delete or lose any content that they edited. Articles and categories will continue to have the same content they had before the deletion.

Revision history

Deleting a user will not remove their name from the revision history for a given article. Their name will still be displayed in the revision list and when comparing revisions.

The Saved last date/timestamp and the revision history/count in the upper right of the article will stay the same.

However, if they were the last user to save an article, you will not see the "Saved by: [deleted user name]" between the Saved last date/timestamp and the revision history/count. That line will simply disappear. Once another user saves the article, it will reappear with the new user's name.

Author dropdowns and filters

If the user is not listed as the Author for any articles:

  • Their name will disappear from the Author dropdown
  • Their name will disappear from the Manage Articles Author filter.

If the user is listed as the Author for any articles:

  • Their name will continue to appear in the Author field for those articles until you manually change the Author to a different user. (We recommend using a Manage Articles filter and Bulk Edit.)
  • If you display author name in your articles, their name will continue to display until you change the author.
  • In the Article Editor, their name will continue to appear in the Author dropdown as long as they are listed as the Author for any articles.
  • In Manage Articles, their name will continue to appear in the Author filter as long as they are listed as the Author for any articles.

Broken Links Report

Deleting a user will remove their name from the Author and Last Modified Author columns in the Broken Links Report.

Can users share logins?

Users are allowed to share logins in KnowledgeOwl, meaning that two people can be logged in as the same user at the same time. For security reasons, we highly advise against sharing logins.