I'm trying to create a workflow that as a step will email the user that gets set in the field "assigned to" on a task list. This will not be set by the creator, it will be set after the item is created.

Most solutions I've found reference using a "wait for field change in current item" step but in SP 2013 you can only have "equal" rather than setting it to "is not null" and have to select a user which we won't know who the user is.

The last comment in this thread seems promising but I'm having no luck with it? This thread also seems like a decent idea, but my "assigned to" field will not be populated to start with and I'm having no luck comparing null fields to each other.

Has anyone had any experience building a workflow like this?

UPDATE Here's what I was able to get working in my environment.

My solution


2 Answers 2


If you want to pursue this approach could try this trick. Create a dummy variable and set it equal to the Assigned To field but as a text string. Then you are able to test the 'is empty' against the dummy variable and apply your logic whether to email or not. It would give you some measure of control over what the user sees when they are assigned the task.

The solution in this thread has a bit more detail on the approach.

Quantifying "NULL" in Sharepoint Designer 2013

  • This worked pretty well. I had to set a "wait for an event field to change" so that it wouldn't start that step immediately after creation(refer to my image above). What about if after the original assigned to, we decide to assign it to someone else. Can SP2013 loop back to this?
    – Braden
    Apr 23, 2015 at 18:12
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    It can, but you'd have to 1) use Designer to set up a wait event and then use InfoPath to either have another field that compares a current assignee to a new assignee or 2) use workflow to wait for a field to equal a particular value and then use InfoPath to set a status column of the item to something like 'reassigning'. The wait for a field to equal something specific is fairly easy to monitor.
    – Graham
    Apr 23, 2015 at 19:42
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    What Graham says is a good approach. Don't think InfoPath is a requirement. You should be able to everything he said with SharePoint Designer. Just create another workflow that only triggers on a change. You will need a variable to hold the current assigned to. Then when a change occurs compare the assigned to versus the variable and if different trigger your email sequence. Glad to hear it worked for you. Apr 23, 2015 at 20:14
  • Thanks for your help guys. The one thing I'm thinking about with my current solution is that it won't work correctly if the assigned to field isn't changed in the first change of the item. Say someone messed up the title, goes back in and changes the title. That will kick off my logic above causing it to never email the assigned to person once that gets added. I'm thinking that second workflow that @MonkeyWrench mentions might be able to fix that as well??
    – Braden
    Apr 23, 2015 at 20:48

If you use a task list, then whenever a task is assigned to someone, an email is sent automatically to the assignee.

This behavior is configurable from list settings > advanced settings

  • There is a draw back to this approach. When you create the task item with no Assigned To and then later add the Assigned To, the email that is sent states the task as been reassigned to the person it was assigned to and shows any edits to the task. If this is the first time the task has technically been assigned then the verbiage is not right and could be confusing. Apr 21, 2015 at 23:31
  • Sorry I should have made it clear that the "send email when ownership is assigned" won't work for our task list. We need to notify the assignee as well as the creator, and as @MonkeyWrench noted the email that gets sent is a bit confusing and non-user friendly.
    – Braden
    Apr 22, 2015 at 14:52

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