How to Create a New Alert in SharePoint

After the painful lesson I recently learned on the consequences of not setting up SharePoint alerts, I promised to return in a few days with a blog detailing the steps involved in the creation of a new alert in SharePoint. As I prepare for virtual back-to-back trips (covering the ShareFEST Conference in Philly this week, then home for a few days before leaving for London in advance of covering the SharePoint 2010 Evolution Conference), I’ve come to realize that if I’m going to make good on my promise, my window of opportunity is pretty much… right now.

The good news is that setting up an alert in SharePoint is a largely intuitive process, so if you’re new to alerts (or even new to SharePoint), you can be on your way to creating new alerts by following just a few simple steps as detailed below.

First, from any page within the site which includes the item with which you wish to associate an alert, click on the drop-down menu attached to your own name in the upper right of the screen, and then select the My Settings button:

My Settings in SharePoint

On the resulting User Information page, along with hyperlinks for Edit Item and My Regional Settings, you’ll notice a tab in the nav bar for My Alerts:

User Information page nav bar in SharePoint

Clicking the My Alerts link will render your My Alerts page for this Site page which will, just as advertised, provide you with a list of all of the alerts (if any) that you’re set up to receive on items that exist within the site. In the nav bar on this page, you’ll see a link to Add Alert:

My Alerts page nav bar in SharePoint

Clicking the Add Alert button will render the New Alert page, which will present you with a list of every list and document library that currently exists on the site, each with an associated radio button. To begin to create a new alert, you need only click the appropriate radio button and then the Next button that appears beneath the available alert-able items. Note: the Next button will be disabled until you’ve made a radio button selection on this page.

Once you’ve made your radio button selection and have clicked Next, the New Alert page will render.  It’s on this page where you will actually set up and configure your new alert to send an email according to your specifications. There are five components to setting up your new alert, and the first of them is to assign an Alert Title to the alert. By default, the Alert Title will take the name of the list or library, but you may change it to suit your needs. Bear in mind that whatever you enter in the Alert Title field will be the subject line of the alert email that gets sent:

Alert Title area of the New Alert page in SharePoint

The second component in setting up your new alert is the all-important Send Alerts To field. Yes, alerts aren’t just good for reminding yourself of upcoming deadlines and the like, but they provide you with an efficient method of reminding others about their upcoming deadlines (which, as we all know, often affect your deadlines). By default, your own name/email will appear here, but you can add whomever you deem necessary to receive the new alert (I imagine you can also remove your own name, but I don’t think I’ve tried that), and there are even helpful Check Names and Browse features to assist you in your task:

Send Alerts To area of the New Alert page in SharePoint

Next up is the Change Type selection, which allows you to specify the type of changes you wish to be alerted on, including notifications for all changes; only when new items are added, only when existing items are modified; or only when items are deleted:

Change Type area of the New Alert page in SharePoint

Hang in there, only two more steps to go and we’re home free. The fourth decision you need to make regards the specific changes you wish alerts to be sent for, which falls under the heading of Send Alerts for These Changes.  You’ve got more options from which to choose from here, with options to send an alert when: Anything changes; A task is assigned to me; A task becomes complete; A high priority task changes; Someone else changes a task assigned to me; Someone else changes a task; Someone else changes a task created by me; Someone else changes a task last modified by me; and Someone changes an item that appears in the following view (with a drop-down menu that includes: My Tasks; Due Today; and Active Tasks):

Send Alerts for These Changes area of the New Alert page in SharePoint

The final step in the creation of a new alert is choosing When to Send Alerts. There are three options to choose from here: Send e-mail immediately; Send a daily summary; or Send a weekly summary. The default selection is Send e-mail immediately. Selecting Send a daily summary will activate the time option that you see grayed out in the image below, allowing you to choose a specific time (on the hour) for the alert to be sent.  Similarly, selecting the Send a weekly summary option will activate both the day and time options:

When to Send Alerts area of the New Alert page in SharePoint

Once you’ve entered all of the required information and made all of the selections as described above, all that’s left to do is to click the OK button, and you’ll have just created a SharePoint alert. Cheers!

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