Access modes

When you create an API access token for the Shopify Admin API during the OAuth flow, you can choose between two access modes: offline and online. This guide describes the differences between online and offline access modes.

The appropriate access mode for your token depends on your app’s use case. It’s also possible for an app to use both access modes at the same time, by using different tokens when appropriate.

Offline access

Offline is the default access mode when none is specified. Tokens with offline access mode are meant for long-term access to a store, where no user interaction is involved. Offline access mode is ideal for background work in response to webhooks, or for maintenance work in backgrounded jobs.

Installation

When offline mode is requested and the app is not already installed in a store, the user installing the app must have access to all required scopes or the installation will fail.

After the app is installed on a store, all users with Apps staff permissions can successfully complete the OAuth flow again, regardless of their permission levels.

Authorization

Authorizing an app multiple times with offline access returns the same access token each time. After obtaining offline access to a store, it's necessary to reauthorize an app only after it has been uninstalled, or when it needs additional access scopes.

Revoking access

The access tokens created with the offline access mode are permanent. They are revoked only when the app is uninstalled from a store.

Online access

Online access must be explicitly requested during the authorization phase of OAuth. Tokens with online access mode are linked to an individual user on a store, where the access token's lifespan matches the lifespan of the user's web session.

Online access is meant to be used when a user is interacting with your app through the web, or when an app must respect an individual user's permission level.

Installation

After your app is installed, requesting this access mode always returns an access token restricted to the scopes available to the user. The app can inspect scope and associated_user_scope to determine if a user is lacking certain permissions.

When online access mode is requested and the app is not already installed on a store, the user installing the app must have access to all required scopes, or the installation fails.

Authorization

An API request made using an online mode access token is guaranteed to respect the user's individual permissions. Shopify returns a 403 Forbidden status code when the access token is valid but the user does not have access.

App developers should make sure to handle such a response gracefully. After an access token has expired, Shopify returns a 401 Unauthorized response code.

Best practices

Keep tokens with online access in a user's temporary session storage, backed by a cookie in the user's browser, and make API requests using this access token in response to the user's requests.

If your app implements caching to avoid fetching data from Shopify too often, then make sure to scope the cache to each individual user. Because online access mode is guaranteed to respect each user's permission level, not caching on a per-user basis could result in an inconsistent cache.

Revoking access

The access tokens created with the online access mode are temporary, and are guaranteed to expire after some time. After an access token has expired, Shopify returns a 401 Unauthorized response code.

Users can revoke their own access to your app at any time, without affecting the validity of other users' access tokens. When a user logs out of Shopify admin, all online mode access tokens created during the same web session are revoked.

Next steps