I have a workflow, which is set to run when an item in a list is created. The list is email enabled, and is populated only by email.

When I send an email to the list, the workflow is not started - however if I create a new item in the list through SP the workflow starts and runs.

My environment is SP 2010 using Nintex Workflow.

This appears to be a well known problem in WSS, but I can't find anything for SP 2010 specifically.

  • I am in the same situation, has anyone come up with a solution for triggering a workflow off an email to an email enabled SharePoint library? thanks!
    – user4080
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 21:31
  • Are you able to reproduce this issue without using Nintex Workflow? Questions about third party products are off topic here (see our faq).
    – Alex Angas
    Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 0:44
  • This is reproducible with standard SP workflow also.
    – Darbio
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 4:36
  • Please give more information, maybe you are having issues regarding mail server.
    – Thuan
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 8:06
  • Try to find more information from sharepoint logs. Go to the %programfiles%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\LOGS folder, looks at the logs files (unfortunately there are a lot of files with a lot information) and find in this files logs lines with type Workflow Infrastructure
    – MishaU
    Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 11:08

6 Answers 6


You have to change a system setting that allows workflows to run when emails are received in an email-enabled doc lib. Other than this, System Account is not allowed to run workflows for security purposes. It will only work when an email is received, not when an item is edited by System Account. You should not be editing items with the System Account:

stsadm.exe –o setproperty –propertyname declarativeworkflowautostartonemailenabled –propertyvalue yes

See complete article: Workflow not running with system account login?.


I have a workaround for this issue that does not require any SharePoint farm changes.

  1. In the email-enabled document library or list, create a custom text column that has a default value.

  2. In Nintex workflow, set it to trigger on item changed - conditional. Make the condition the column/value you set in step 1. You should also have the workflow change that value to something else as one of the activities.

This seems to bypass the issue with the system account not being able to launch a workflow triggered by a new emailed item. The trigger is no longer the new item, but the creation of that custom column.

  • This worked for me when the stsadm command did not. Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 15:31

Have you tried following the instructions you found for WSS? This is Microsoft's official KB article about it.

More on Google.

  • Yeah I have tried this, but the commands/properties suggested in the MSDN KB do not apply for SP 2010.
    – Darbio
    Commented Nov 2, 2010 at 23:10

Can you tell me how the emails are created in the list? Basically with which account? Try to create emails into the list using users other than system account who has permission to create items in the list. SharePoint workflows do not start automatically while items are created using system account.


I'm kinda reposting my comment from @Jimbo Alva's answer. Again, tested to work on SPF 2010 (taken from the KB article link posted by @Muhimbi)

stsadm -o setproperty -pn declarativeworkflowautostartonemailenabled -pv true

workaround Configure the settings of the workflow and set conditional greater than 0 worked for me

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