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SharePoint "Unknown Error": How to Show All the Details

Every couple of months, we receive a support request that goes something like this: "when I attempt to do X, SharePoint says Unknown Error". Of course there is no way we can fix an "unknown error". Yet these errors are not unknown, by default SharePoint simply does not show their inner details — presumably the user experience designers at Microsoft presumed that a real error message is too scary for SharePoint end users, but an "unknown error" is somehow so much more reassuring... or maybe there really are too many 3rd-party developers who as a matter of habit always include sensitive passwords in their error messages.

Anyway, if you do encounter an Unknown Error (this has become spectacularly rare fortunately as our software has grown ever more stable over the last 2 years), then we need you to turn on Detailed Error Messages in your SharePoint environment. This is easy to do and absolutely non-dangerous, plus typically you will be reporting your issue from your QA, test or dev server rather than production. Here is what we need you to do.

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