I have created a Custom SharePoint list and I want to be able to add the ability to send an e-mail to the person who the list item is assigned to just like the Issue Tracking and Task lists do.

How can I enable this functionality on an existing list with lots of data populated in it?

  • @ObligatoryMoniker - this isn't something built into sharepoint. You'll need a custom workflow (and a custom list event handler to compare the current value to the previous value) to accomplish it, so this is a stackoverflow question.
    – MattB
    Commented Apr 2, 2010 at 15:23
  • @MattB I was hoping there was a way to accomplish this without programming something but if the answer I get is that it can't be done then I will certainly be pursuing that on StackOverflow Thanks
    – ObligatoryMoniker
    Commented Apr 2, 2010 at 16:47
  • you could do it with just sharepoint designer - but the email would go out on every change to the item, not just if the owner changed. I think that is the best you could do without some programming.
    – MattB
    Commented Apr 2, 2010 at 18:17
  • @MattB Go ahead and write up what you have said in the comments with any additional info you want to add and post it as the answer so that I can accept it. Thanks
    – ObligatoryMoniker
    Commented Apr 5, 2010 at 15:58

5 Answers 5


This is easy to do in Sharepoint Designer.

Just create a workflow assigned to the list. (either have it start when the item is created or when it is changed, or both). Create a column - Assigned Owner

The logic you use in your workflow is up to you depending on if the assigned owner will change.

EG create a column (Assigned Owner) add logic that if this field is not blank then.. ... then add action Send an Email.. (choose workflow lookup and send it to the assigned owner field)..put what you want in the field and title - then close the workflow..

  • Your recommendation gets the job done but introduces overhead that I would like to avoid. I am really looking to be able to enable the base functionality built in to SharePoint, not add something additional.
    – ObligatoryMoniker
    Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 13:00

I disagree with "The only true solution"... Copy all the list items to another list, that's not appropriate for all our lists, as we have selected each list to closely match it's use to the OTB functionality.

We created a simple global Event Receiver that will send the email when AssignedTo has changed. You could easily scope this to specific lists or list types if you wanted to.

This worked for us because it is what all of our users who have migrated over from confluence are expecting in all lists. Workflows and alerts added too much management overhead for us to worry about.

Note: do not use the Changing event in case it fails, you choose use the item changed event.


You could also create a separate view for each assigned owner that could be selected. Then set email alerts to go out to that person when something enters that view. Of course this is only practical if there is a small list of assigned owners.


The only true solution we have found to this has been to write a custom C# application that allows us to copy all list items from an existing custom list into an issues list so that we now have the e-mail on assignment functionality.


We found that if you Alert to a View with a "[ME]" filter on the AssignedTo column it works fairly well. Shows you all changes on items assigned to you and avoids custom solutions.

I've tested this and I think the assumption is that the user himself sets up the alert or is set up for him with his email in the mail to entry. If you try using a set of people they all get the email. So it will work but will need to be managed as new people join/get assigned items. not perfect.

  • I couldn't' get this to work - are you sure?
    – Ryan
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 10:20

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