Users and Profiles explained!

I still remember my first time trying to create new Users with a specific Profile under a particular User License. How did all these fit together? My head hurts just thinking about it!

From where I am now though, the process couldn’t be simpler. Just go to Setup and do the rest under the Users section. However, when I first started with Salesforce, knowing little about each function and concept baffled me.

So exactly how do each of them work in Salesforce? Here’s what wish I had known when I started...

What I wish I knew about Salesforce

The User section in Salesforce

First of all, the Users section is for checking an individual users status.

Everything related to a particular user’s “status” such as login history, assigned licenses, profiles, permission sets, groups, queues, language, time zone, and locale can be found under this section. From here, we can also reset passwords for the user and freeze/unfreeze or unlock the user. 

Profile Salesforce Admin


User Licenses

Now that we understand the User section in Salesforce, we can talk about User Licenses. One of the key uses of User Licenses is to assign profiles.

A User License helps to specify accessibility and functionality in Salesforce for a user. Before a profile can be assigned to a user, a user license should be chosen first. Then, a profile can be selected in accordance with the chosen license. In short, a user license will decide which profile can be assigned to a user. A user can only be assigned one User License at a time.

Profile Salesforce License

But where do Profiles come in? 

The final piece of the puzzle is Profiles. Profiles are for controlling access.

As we just learnt, Profiles are based on the chosen User License. Things such as System Permissions, Login Hours, Login IP Ranges, and Password Polices can all be found and set under this section. It is the key place for managing field-level security. Like the User License, only one Profile can be assigned to a user each time.

Profiles explained in Salesforce

Oh, and did we mention Permission Sets?

As we are speaking of Profiles, this is also a good time to mention Permission Sets. Permission Sets are optional add-ons for an assigned Profile to a user which will help expand accessibility and functionality. For instance, an object may set to be only readable under a certain Profile. By assigning a Permission Set which gives edit permission to that particular object, the object can become editable.

In the above example, you may be thinking why would we assign a Permission Set instead of just update the Profile? Well, the reason could be that not every user with that Profile needs the permission to edit that object. Accordingly, assigning a Permission Set to the user who need to edit the object will be a more suitable way than updating the Profile.

Permission Salesforce Admin

Permission Sets will always give more access to a user, and never become more restrictive. For example, if a field is already editable based on the profile, assigning a permission set which tries to make the field only readable will not work! Moreover, unlike User Licenses and Profiles, it is possible to assign more than one permission set to a user.

In this post, we have covered the basics of Users, User Licenses, Profiles, and Permission Sets, and explained their differences. Hopefully, this helps to clear up these concepts and their functionality in Salesforce!