Automate Your Work With Alerts and Actions

Have Smartsheet automatically notify you and others of sheet changes, remind people of key dates, automatically request updates on specific rows, or automatically initiate a request for approval or sign-off on work items in your sheet.

Below is an example of what an automated approval request looks like when delivered to someone. Delivery options include:

  • Smartsheet notification center (if they’re signed in to Smartsheet)
  • Their email inbox (which doesn’t require they have a Smartsheet account)
  • A push notification from the Smartsheet mobile app

    approval request example

The Best Alert or Action for Your Situation


Use this type of alert or actionIn this situation
AlertTo be notified on key changes in specific columns

For a person to be notified when they’re assigned to a new task

To know when columns are set to a specific value (for example, a Status dropdown column is set to “Blocked”)

To be notified before, after, or on a specific date once conditions are met (for example, send an alert three days before the Start date for rows where Status is "Not Started")
ReminderTo be alerted:

When key dates are approaching

On a specific date

After a date has passed
Approval RequestFor sign-off from a key stakeholder on a specific task

For someone to approve or decline an item (for example, Director approval on a project proposal)

For approval on an item that meets a certain criteria (for example, Finance approval when an item's cost is over a certain amount)
Update RequestTo automatically ask for the latest information for a current item once a value changes in a specific column (for example, when the status on a row changes to “In Progress,” request that the assignee update the Start date)

To automatically request an update to multiple cells in a row


Automatic Row LockTo prevent further edits after an item has been approved

To prevent further edits after a task has been completed or closed
Automatic Row UnlockMitigate mistakes in your process by preventing items from being edited until prerequisite steps are completed


Build an Automated Alert or Action

Define the specific trigger criteria (what conditions must be met before the alert or action will be sent, who it's sent to, and what’s included in it) with a visual workflow builder.

To get started:

  1. Select Alerts & Actions on the menu bar.
    menu bar
    If you don't see Alerts & Actions, click the down arrow icon in the upper-right corner of the Smartsheet window.
    show menu bar
  2. On the Alerts & Actions menu, select the type of alert or action that you want to create. (Use the table at the top of this article to help determine the best one for your situation.)

    The visual workflow appears.

    alert someone
  3. Here you’ll specify the criteria that must be met to trigger the alert or action, as well as who it will be sent to.

Fine-Tune an Alert or Action Rule

Here are a few things you can do to make alerts and actions do exactly what you want them to.

Name Your Rule

Click the placeholder text at the top of the workflow window to give it a distinct name.

Name Your Alert or Action

NOTE: If you don't give your alert or action rule a name, it will inherit the default placeholder text name. (If you cloned the rule, it will inherit the name of rule that it was cloned from.)

Create a Date-Based Conditional Alert or Action

For your alert or action condition, you can choose for it to be sent out before, after, or on a specific date—either with a date column or you can manually select a date.

date based alerts

Add a Condition to your alert or action (as described in the section below) to ensure that only rows which meet certain criteria are sent out on that date.

Have the Alert or Action Listen for Specific Changes

Select Specify a change to narrow the trigger criteria of your alert or action to only certain types of changes in certain fields (columns on your sheet) that you select. For example, you might specify that only changes in the Status column should trigger it.

Add a Condition to be Met Before the Alert or Action is Sent

Click the Plus icon > Add a Condition to further define specific values that should exist in corresponding cells. Even if the specified changes occur, only rows that meet the set conditions will be sent in the alert or action. (If no rows meet the added conditions, then an alert or action won’t be sent at all.)

add a condition

You can remove conditions from your alert or action (which deletes the entire condition box) by clicking More more icon  > Delete.

Choose Which Columns Should be Included in the Alert and Action

To include and exclude columns displayed in the alert or action, click More more icon  in the upper-right corner of the delivery settings box (the last box in the rule) then select Advanced Options.

advanced options

Select Who Will Receive the Alert or Action and When

Configure the delivery settings box (the last box in the rule) to ensure alerts and actions are sent to people who are involved with a specific work item. You can configure them to be sent out to:

  • Everyone shared to the sheet
  • Someone in a Contact column for that row
  • People that you manually specify
  • A channel in the Slack app (more information on this integration here)

Dynamically Add Cell Data in the Subject and Body of Alert and Action Messages

Make each alert or action more readily identifiable on the subject line of the alert message with alert message placeholders. For example, add a message placeholder to the subject of your sheet for a column titled Task Name in your sheet for Smartsheet to dynamically add the relevant information from that column to your alert or action message.

To navigate to the Delivery Settings window and add a placeholder:

  1. At the top of the sheet, select Alerts & Actions.
  2. From here, you can create a new alert, a new action, or select Manage Alerts & Actions to add placeholders to an existing alert or action rule.

    If you opted to edit an existing alert or action rule and open the Manage Alerts & Actions window, click the down arrow to the right of the rule and select Edit.

    The Edit Rule window appears.
  3. Click Customize message. 
  4. Type double-curly brackets around the column name {{column name}} in the subject or body, along with any other desired text, when typing a custom message—either at the time of creating an alert rule or while editing an existing one.

NOTE: Adding placeholders to your messages may possibly result in you receiving multiple alerts or actions where you may have previously received a single, consolidated one. If you find yourself receiving multiple alerts or actions with similar subject and message content, and you want to change this behavior, edit the delivery settings to remove the placeholders.

Approval Requests: Customize Status and Buttons

Click more icon > Advanced Settings to personalize the button text that the approver will see when the request is sent to them, as well as the values that are stored in the dropdown column of your sheet.

Advanced Options

For example, you can change the Approved button text to “Sign-off” instead. The approver will get a request form with the Sign-off button text. If they click Sign-off, “Approved” will be populated in the sheet.

NOTE: With the Submitted field, you can edit the dropdown value that enters your sheet when an approval request is sent, but the approver hasn’t taken an action on the request yet.

Update Requests: Read-Only Fields

Depending on the how cells in a sheet are being used, information can't be edited from an update request. These cells can only be edited in the sheet directly (by signing in to Smartsheet).

The following fields will appear as read-only in an update request:

  • Fields that contain formulas
  • Start Dates and Finish Dates with a dependency (the Duration field can be edited)
  • Predecessors (this field won't appear in an update request)
  • Locked rows or columns

Alert and Request Delivery Behavior

As you’re working with alerts and actions, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Alerts and actions are set at the sheet level only (that is, they can’t be set for specific rows).
  • If your alert or action message includes a link to a file attachment, that link will expire after 30 days or after it's been clicked 100 times. This is a security precaution to prevent unlimited access to your files.
  • The time zone used for an alert or action is based on the sheet owner’s time zone as specified in their Personal Settings. (For more information, see Adjusting Personal Settings.)
  • If one person makes the change that sets off an alert or action which sends an alert or request, and their email address will appear as the reply-to. If multiple people make changes, the owner of the sheet will appear as the reply-to.
  • You cannot control the time of day that alerts or requests are sent. With the exception of changes that you want to be notified of right away (which are sent right away), messages are sent between 12:00 AM and 4:00 AM according to the sheet owner’s time zone. (Weekly alerts and requests are sent every Friday between 12:00 AM and 4:00 AM.)

Control Who Is Notified About Alerts and Requests

By default, alerts and requests are sent only to people shared to the sheet. If you want alerts and requests to be sent to anyone with a valid email address on a sheet-level or account-level, see the following help articles:

Sharing Permission Requirements for Creating an Alert or Action

Whether you can create alerts and actions and who you can include depends on your sharing permission level on the sheet.

Alert/Action TypeOwnerAdminEditorViewer
AlertYourself and othersYourself and othersYourselfYourself
ReminderYourself and othersYourself and othersYourselfYourself
Update RequestYourself and othersYourself and othersCan’t createCan’t create
Approval RequestYourself and othersYourself and othersCan’t createCan’t create
Automatic Row LockCan createCan createCan't createCan't create
Automatic Row UnlockCan createCan createCan't createCan't create

Send Alerts or Requests on the Changes You Make

If you’ve set up an alert or request with yourself as the recipient, but you're not notified when you edit the sheet, you’ll want to turn on notifications for changes you make. See Adjusting Personal Settings for more information on changing settings in your account.

Manually Send Notifications or Update Requests

In one-time situations where you may not need to build an automated alert or action, you can also manually send sheet information and update requests to people. More information on these features can be found in the following help articles:

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