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Work with content in lists and libraries

Stay up to date with content changes

In SharePoint 2016, you can stay up to date with content changes by using features such as the following:

  • You can set up alerts to receive notifications via email or SMS when changes are made to the content of a site.

  • You can follow documents to track updates to those documents in your newsfeed.

Set up alerts

SharePoint 2016 includes a handy feature that sends an email notification or text message whenever changes are made to content in a site, including changes made to list items in a list. The setup for this notification is called an alert. You can set up an alert for a list, library, folder, file, or list item. No alerts are set up automatically, so you must subscribe to the alerts that you want. Alerts can be set up for different types of changes so that you can learn about the changes you are most interested in.

Alerts are quite easy to set up. Every list and library in a SharePoint 2016 site has an Alert Me button in the Share & Track group on the ribbon. You use the button on the List tab of the ribbon to subscribe to an alert on a list level, and the one on the Library tab to subscribe to an alert on a library level. To subscribe to an alert for an item or file, you select the item in a list or the file in a library, and then select the Alert Me button on the Items or Files tab, respectively.

Alerts specify to whom the alert will be sent and the kind of changes and frequency for which the alert will be sent. By default, the alert is sent to the email address of the user who sets up the alert. If no email address has been established for the authenticated user, an email prompt is generated in the Send Alerts To area. After it has been provided, the address will be remembered for subsequent subscriptions.

When you set up an alert, you choose the type of change for which the alert should be initiated. For example, list-level alerts have subscriptions for All Changes To Any List Item, New Items Are Added Only, Existing Items Are Modified Only, or Items Are Deleted Only. If you want to see added and changed items but not deleted items, you need to set up two alerts. List item–level alerts, however, are only sent when the item changes, because you can only set up this alert after the list item already exists, and a deletion is considered a change to the list item.

You must specify when to send alerts; the default is when anything changes. Different lists and libraries have different options available. For example, a document library provides the following change alert options for a document:

  • Anything Changes

  • Someone Else Changes A Document

  • Someone Else Changes A Document Created By Me

  • Someone Else Changes A Document Last Modified By Me

You must also specify the alert frequency. There are three choices for any type of alert.

  • Send Notification Immediately

  • Send A Daily Summary

  • Send A Weekly Summary

Choosing to receive an alert immediately actually queues the notice to be sent as soon as the next job runs after the alert is triggered. By default, the alert job runs every 5 minutes but could be configured by your administrator to wait as long as 59 minutes. The daily and weekly summaries store all changes made to the list or list item and send a summary at the end of the period. By default, daily summary alerts are generated at midnight each night, and weekly summary alerts are generated at midnight every Sunday night.

To set up an alert for a list item or a document

  1. Go to a list or a library that contains an item that you want to set up an alert for.

  2. Select the item or document for which you want to set up an alert.

  3. Do one of the following to open the New Alert dialog box:

    • For a list item, do either of the following:

      • On the Items tab of the ribbon, in the Manage group, select Alert Me, and then select Set alert on this item.

      • Select the ellipsis to the left of the item’s name, in the callout that opens, select the ellipsis again, select Advanced, and then select Alert me.

      • For a document, on the Files tab, in the Share & Track group, select Alert Me, and then select Set alert on this document.

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    Setting up an alert on a document

  4. In the New Alert dialog, provide the alert title, who the alerts should be sent to, and the delivery method. Select the criteria for the new alert and the alert frequency, and select OK.

Follow documents

In SharePoint 2016, you can follow documents to track updates to them in your newsfeed. Following a document is different from receiving alerts about the changes to the document; setting an alert for the document keeps you notified of specific changes at the predefined frequency, via an email or SMS, whereas following a document adds a link to this document in your newsfeed and provides notifications of all document changes via your newsfeed. In addition, people who are following you will get a newsfeed notification that you’re following this document, if they have appropriate permissions to access it. All documents that you follow are shown in one place in your newsfeed, in the list of followed documents.

To follow a document

  1. Go to a library that contains the document you want to follow.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Display the shortcut menu for the document, select Advanced, and then select Follow.

    • Select the ellipsis to the left of the document’s name, and in the callout that opens, select Follow.

    Notice the confirmation that is displayed for a short time in the upper-right corner of the page.

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    Confirmation that you are following the document