Approval Requests: Automatically Request Sign-Off on Work Items

Applies to


An approval request is a way to ask someone to approve or deny an item on your sheet automatically. Configure an approval request, for example, to have Smartsheet automatically send a request for someone from Finance to sign-off if a purchase order is over a maximum dollar amount.


Requirements for Creating and Receiving Approval Requests

Use the following table as a reference for whether you can create or edit approval requests for yourself and others based on sheet sharing permissions.

  Owner Admin Editor Viewer Not Shared
Create approval request rules Yes Yes* No No No
Edit approval request rules Yes Yes* No No No
Receive and take action on approval requests Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes**

*You may need to adjust an additional setting to allow anyone with a valid email address receive approval requests. See the Control Who Can Receive Approval Requests section below for details.

NOTE: To prevent infinite approval loops, cells which contain cross-sheet formulas or cell links will not trigger the approval request. To workaround this, you can create an update request. To set up an update request, see Update Requests: Automatically Ask for the Latest Info.

Control Who Can Receive Approval Requests

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

Create an Approval Request
Approval workflow

With your sheet open:

  1. Click Automation > Request an Approval Workflow.
  2. In the trigger block, set the criteria that cause the workflow to automatically fire. (More information on trigger block.)
  3. You can also create condition blocks that filter the specific rows to be included in the delivery of the approval request. (More on condition blocks.)
  4. In the action block, select the  stakeholder that needs to provide approval, then save your Workflow.

You can create more complex approval workflows; see Request Approval for Stakeholders in Sequence to learn more.

Approval Workflow Options

Approval workflows can be a simple or complex as your project requires. You can use any of the following options to customize your workflow. 

  • When—Specify what types of changes trigger the approval request. 
  • In any row—Only send rows that contain certain values. (After the When condition is met.)
  • Send an approval request to—Choose your recipients, either specific email addresses or a Contact column in your sheet.
  • Frequency of the approval request, columns included, and the message included. (Click Delivery Settings to customize.)
  • Approval dropdown column—create a new dropdown column in the sheet or choose an existing dropdown column as a place to store approval responses.
  • Store approval status in column—Create a new Dropdown list column or select an existing one to store the approver’s response (approve or decline).
  • Button text and associated dropdown values—Customize the text in the buttons that the approver will use to sign-off or reject the request, as well as the values that enter your sheet based on the approver’s response. (Click Advanced Settings to customize.)

That’s it! Now the approver can receive an approval request in an email message, mobile push notification, and in the computer browser application (depending on their account settings). See Notification Center: Receive Alerts Directly Within Smartsheet for details on how you can receive alerts.

Their approval or decline will be entered in your sheet.


Specify Additional Conditions for Your Rule

Ensure that an approval request is only sent out when necessary by specifying additional conditions in the When and In any row where... criteria of your rule.

Click Add Column (When) and Add Condition (In any row where...) to add criteria fields.


Customize the Message, Frequency, and Content Included

Click Delivery Settings to personalize the subject, message, columns included, as well as the delivery frequency of the approval request.


Customize Approve and Decline Buttons and Dropdown Values

Click 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.


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.

Edit, Disable, or Delete Existing Rules

To disable a rule or change rule conditions, recipients, frequency, or columns included:

  1. Click the Alerts & Actions tab at the bottom of the sheet. The Alerts & Actions window appears.
  2. Click the down-arrow  down-arrow in the upper-right corner of the rule you want to change or disable.
Use this command To do this
Disable Temporarily turn off the rule. (Use this command if you may want to use the rule in the future.)
Edit Rename or change the criteria for the rule.

You can also use this command to access the Customize Email link so that you can make changes to the subject, body, or columns included.
Clone Create a copy of the rule.
Unsubscribe Stop receiving the alert.

TIP: You can also unsubscribe directly from the alert or action that you receive by clicking the Unsubscribe link next to the “Don't want to receive this notification?” text at the bottom of the message.
Delete Delete the rule completely. (This cannot be undone.)