Image of a rule in Microsoft Lists

Adding Rules to Your Microsoft Lists

Josh Logozar
Josh Logozar
January 27, 2021

Rules can be put in place to help notify us of changes made in our Lists. Let's try it out by learning how to create a rule, how to edit it, and even delete it if need be.

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We have talked about how to create and add information to a Microsoft List, but that is just a small amount of what we can do with Lists. One of the coolest, and easier functions that we can set up to make our lists more efficient is adding rules. Rules are quick and easy way to notify us when something changes with the information in our list. Today, we are going to learn how to create, edit and delete a rule. In this example, we'll set up a rule that will send us an email when a column gets updated, to help us keep track of the listing.

Note: This feature is currently rolling out, which means that it may not be available to your tenant at time of release of this post.

Do We Really Need Rules?

Rules are the Modern evolution of the Alerts functionality in SharePoint Lists and Libraries. Alerts are/were a fantastic way to monitor a list for changes, and Rules take everything that was good about Alerts and adds a new level of flexibility. Traditionally, we could tell SharePoint to let us know if an item has changed in a list, but with Rules, we can dial that activity into only alerting us about specific types of changes that are happening with our shared data.

Let's look at the perspective of a task list that is being shared among a team of people. Projects can have a number of stages for particular work items, and tasks can move from hand to hand across various people in the team. As a member of that team, we need to know when tasks change hands, so that we know when we need to act. However, the value of those notifications would steadily diminish if we're constantly receiving alerts that are not relevant to our current task. This has always been the shortfall of the Alerts functionality, but with rules we can make sure that we are only getting alerted for the changes that are most relevant to us!

Creating a Rule

Navigate to Microsoft Lists, and open the list where we want to set up a Rule. In the list, click on “Automate” which is located in the top taskbar, then click on “Create a rule”.

Image of creating a rule in Microsoft Lists.

Once we've done that, we will get a secondary screen that will ask when we would like to create the notification. For this example, we are going to use “A column changes".

Image of rule notification options in Microsoft Lists.

Building the rule is as easy as building a sentence stating what we want to happen. In this example, we need to know when a shared task gets changed to be the responsibility of the Marketing team. Let's choose the column we want to be watched, and what choice we want to be alerted about when the task gets updated.

Image of creating a rule in Microsoft Lists.

Now, we need to select who we want to notify when the item gets added to the list. We are going to add our email, as our goal is to not only keep on top of this list, but to know exactly when we need to act. We can search for our name (or the email address of a Group we are using), and it will give us a drop-down to select the person or Group that we want to notify.

Image of creating a rule notification in Microsoft Lists.

The last step is going to be clicking on the "Create" button. Now, we have successfully created a rule for our list!

Editing a Rule

We can always edit a rule as needed. Let’s say that the project became a lot larger in scope than we first anticipated. We are going to start including a team member, and they also need to be made aware of the additions to the list.

This is a very quick process. All we need to do is go back to our “Automate” drop-down, but this time select “Manage rules”. This will give us a listing of all of the rules, from here we can turn rules on or off, but for now we are going make changes to an existing rule.

Image of managing a rule in Microsoft Lists.

Begin by selecting the rule that we want to edit, we'll get a screen that shows the options can be edited. In this case, the only part of the rule that we can edit is who gets the emails.

To add another person, click on the underlined word, and we will have it turn into a field that can be edited. Add the name of the teammate that is going to require an email, and then hit "Save".

Image of editing a rule in Microsoft Lists.

Deleting a Rule

The last thing we can do is delete a rule. Just like editing, we need to go back into our “Manage rules” tab. Notice that we are allowed to create up to 15 rules per list. Instead of deleting, we can use the On/Off toggle to temporarily disable our rules, so we won't have to recreate the rules if we need to use them in the future.

If we decide that a rule is not something that we'll use later, then deleting it to keep a nice clean environment is the way to go. Once we have pulled up our manage rules screen, click on the “Delete” button. It is that fast and easy, however we will not even get a warning message, so be careful with that.

Note: Once a rule has been deleted, it will be gone forever
Image of deleting a rule in Microsoft Lists.

We now have the skills to not have to go back and check our lists to see if someone has added to them. Rules are nice quick way to make sure that our lists, and ourselves, stay as up to date as possible, removing one more item from our daily checklist.

There are a few more options when creating rules that we didn't cover yet, like getting a notification if a value changes, if a column changes, or if something gets deleted. Go in and see which rules will make it so you don’t have to go back and verify information every day!

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