The “opt out of modern experiences” (splnu) cookie applies to all sites in your tenant subdomain

In my last post, I showed how you must click Return to classic SharePoint in order to remove an app from SharePoint Online’s modern Site Contents page. Clicking Return to classic SharePoint sets a session cookie named splnu with a Content attribute value of 0:

As long as this cookie is present, pages that would typically render using the modern page experience (such as the Site Contents page) will use the classic page experience instead. But did you catch something about that cookie in the screenshot above? It is set with a Path attribute value of /:

Based on this explanation of the purpose of a cookie’s Domain and Path attribute values as defined in RFC 6265, the value of the Path attribute can be used to scope the cookie to a particular URL (and its subdirectories). However, when it is set to /, the browser will use the cookie for any path within the cookie’s domain.

From any site, it affects every site

It turns out that the splnu cookie’s Path attribute is set to / no matter which site or subsite you choose to return to the classic page experience. I tested this by clicking Return to classic SharePoint from each of the following sites within my tenant (clearing my cookies between each test):

https://djsp.sharepoint.com (root site collection)
https://djsp.sharepoint.com/test (subsite of root site collection)
https://djsp.sharepoint.com/sites/test (root of new private site collection)

In all of these scenarios, the same splnu cookie was created with the same Path attribute of /, no matter the subdirectory from which the request was initiated.

What does this mean?

For the duration of your session (splnu is a session cookie), you will be returned to the classic SharePoint page experience on ALL sites that share the same parent domain (in my example above, the root site collection, subsite, and private site collection underneath the /sites path all share the same parent domain–djsp.sharepoint.com–and are therefore all matches for the Path of /).

This may not be a major issue for you since the splnu cookie is only valid for the duration of your session, and as I suggest in my last post, the effects of this cookie can be mitigated by using your browser’s “private browsing” or “incognito” mode. However, this behavior may cause confusion since you might expect the Return to classic SharePoint link to only apply within the scope of the particular site where you selected it.

To that end, I have submitted this UserVoice request asking the product team to consider appropriately scoping the Path attribute value of the splnu session cookie based on where the user has asked to return to the classic page experience. Feel free to vote or comment on my request.

  • This is a tremendously poorly implemented piece of functionality. The net effect is ordinary users get locked in or out of “modern” in ways that make no logical sense to them.

    My guess is it was implemented quickly with the mindset that everyone would love “modern” so much they would never want to go back to “classic”. However, that is not the case in my experience. People simply choose to stick to “classic” because it’s familiar or because they can’t do what they need in “modern”.

    Great UserVoice suggestion; voted!

    M.