I am trying to delete a principal from the database but can't because it owns a schema. When I go to edit the user, however, the box to uncheck schemae is blue and unremovable. How can I remove the principal from these schemas?

3 Answers 3


Try the T-SQL to do this:

alter authorization
on schema::YourSchemaName
to dbo

drop user TheUserYouWantToDelete

You can't drop a principal that is a schema owner, so the ALTER AUTHORZATION changes the owned schema (I used YourSchemaName, but obviously substitute that with the owned schema in your database) to dbo (likewise, you can change ownership to whatever principal you need in your environment). That will allow you to drop the previously-schema-owning user (for example purposes I used TheUserYouWantToDelete, but that'll be the now non-owner that you want to drop).

  • Okay, so this worked. I'm a little confused as to why, however. Why do I need to authorize the schema to another schema? Maybe I need to review schemas...
    – rsteckly
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 18:10
  • 1
    @rsteckly Simplified, authorization = ownership. If you could delete the user that owns the schema, the schema wouldn't be valid, because the owner no longer exists. Imagine you could delete a customer who has placed an order. What does the CustomerID in the Orders table mean if there is no longer a Customer that it points to? Where should I ship the order? Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 18:20
  • Sorry, my example wasn't well explained. We're not changing authorization to the dbo schema, we're changing authorization to the dbo principal. That could have been any database principal. Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 18:32

The T-SQL way works. Thanks to http://zarez.net/?p=179 I found the SSMS way to do this (UI).

To change the schema owner from Sql Server Management Studio:

Expand your database -> Security -> Schemas

In the Object Explorer Details you can see a list of the schemas and the owners:

enter image description here

If you don't know what schema(s) the User owns, check the properties of the User.

enter image description here

Open up the properties of the schema that the User owns, and click "Search" to find a new owner. If you don't know the new owner, you can "Browse" for one.

Properites -> Search -> Browse

and you can change the schema owner to dbo (or whoever is most appropriate).

enter image description here

  • 2
    T-SQL way is much better and flexible. Doing it through GUI has (is) always a pain !
    – Kin Shah
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 17:05
  • I'm all for the T-SQL way, also because it can be used in scripts.
    – woodvi
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 18:01
  • 2
    Note: F7 is the shortcut to display details if it isn't coming up Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 22:21

It has been already showed before that before dropping a user you need to reassign any schema it might own to dbo as per the example below:

alter authorization
on schema::YourSchemaName_Ownedby_TheUserYouWantToDelete
to dbo

drop user TheUserYouWantToDelete

However, sometimes the user you want to delete has more than one schema assigned to it. You can find all the schemas owned by a particular user by using this script:

       ,[the schema ownwer]=dp.name
FROM SYS.schemas S
INNER JOIN SYS.database_principals dp
       ON S.principal_id = dp.principal_id

enter image description here

Just a note: In the example above the user mathura\radhe has several schemas including db_owner although this user is NOT the db owner of this database in particular.

Below is a partial view of the script I use to get ready to drop a user in a database.

There are other things to consider - as they're not included in this script:

  1. getting all the permissions of this user, before you drop it - just in case you need to rollback - for that I recommend this or this
  2. I have not checked about the roles assigned to this user - just because I never had this problem so far
  3. I am not scripting the login and user creation - you might need this before you drop it
  4. Always check that you are in the right server and right database before running this script

          ,THE_DATABASE    = QUOTENAME(DB_NAME())     
          ,THE_USER        = QUOTENAME(dp.name)
          ,IS_ORPHAN       = dp.IS_ORPHAN
          ,[DROP_USER]     = 
           'USE ' + QUOTENAME(DB_NAME()) + 
           '; DROP USER [' + dp.name           
            + '] '      
          ,[RESET_SCHEMA]  = 
          'USE ' + QUOTENAME(DB_NAME()) + 
          ';' + dp.THE_SCHEMAS  +  
          ,[RESET_ROLE]    = 
          'USE ' + QUOTENAME(DB_NAME()) + 
          '; ALTER AUTHORIZATION ON Role::[' + dp.name           
          + ']  TO [dbo]'
      [NAME]               = dp.name
     ,IS_ORPHAN            = CASE WHEN (sp.sid is null  
                             AND c.sid is null   
                             AND a.sid is null) 
                             THEN 1 ELSE 0 END
     ,THE_SCHEMAS          = STUFF((   
                 CAST (QUOTENAME(s.name) as sysname) + SPACE(1) + 'TO [dbo]'
                                        FROM sys.schemas s
                                        WHERE s.principal_id = dp.principal_id
                                        FOR XML PATH ('')),1,1,'')
    FROM sys.database_principals dp
     LEFT OUTER JOIN sys.server_principals sp
                  ON dp.sid = sp.sid
     LEFT OUTER JOIN sys.certificates c
                  ON dp.sid = c.sid
     LEFT OUTER JOIN sys.asymmetric_keys a
                  ON dp.sid = a.sid
    WHERE 1=1
     AND dp.type in ('U', 'S', 'C', 'K') 
     AND dp.principal_id > 4 
            /*0..4 are system users which will be ignored*/
     AND NOT (dp.type = 'S' 
             AND LEN(dp.sid) = 28) 
            /*to filter out the valid db users without login*/) dp    
     WHERE dp.name = 'mathura\radhe'

enter image description here

then I copy the script generated on the RESET_SCHEMA column:

USE [sgdragnet];
ALTER AUTHORIZATION ON SCHEMA::[mathura\radhe] TO [dbo];
ALTER AUTHORIZATION ON SCHEMA::[db_securityadmin] TO [dbo];

and the other columns also contain significant info. hope this helps

  • 1
    Really nicely explained, thanks for elaborated answer @Marcello Miorelli. Commented Apr 29 at 15:58

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