OOTB Visitors with Read permission can’t access the ribbon on publishing pages in SP2013. This is true for March 2013 Public Update. This is bad because some of the functionality that are useful for Visitors can only be accessed from the ribbon, e.g. Page History, Alert Me, Tags & Notes.
On publishing pages (i.e. pages from the Pages library), Visitors do not see the gear button (Site Settings) in the top right. Therefore, even if you set Yes to Make “Show Ribbon” and “Hide Ribbon” commands available in the site’s settings, this does not help Visitor users as they can’t access the Show Ribbon/Hide Ribbon commands anyway (as when enabled they are shown when you click the gear button).
You can solve this by tweaking the permission for Visitors. The ribbon visibility seems to be dependent on the visibility of the gear button. To make the gear button visible for Visitors, edit the Read permission levels. Grant the “Manage Personal Views – Create, change, and delete personal views of lists” permission to the Read permission levels. This to me is an acceptable compromise.
Now Visitors will see the gear button. However, they may not yet see the ribbon. To fix this, go to the root site as an Admin user and perform the following steps:
- Set Yes to Make “Show Ribbon” and “Hide Ribbon” commands available (in Site Settings \ Navigation)
- Go back to the main page of the site, then choose Show Ribbon from the gear button. Visitors should now see the ribbon.
- If desired, set Make “Show Ribbon” and “Hide Ribbon” commands available back to No
Note that this issue only occurs on publishing pages (i.e. pages in the Pages library). Visitors can see the gear button and the ribbon fine on pages in Wiki libraries and Site Pages libraries.