Article ID: 2412093 - View products that this article applies to.

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In a Microsoft Office 365 pre-upgrade environment, users don't receive Microsoft SharePoint Online alert notifications as expected. Specifically, users may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Alert email messages aren't received after an alert is created.
  • Alerts don't work. Alerts aren't received.
  • Task list notifications don't work.
  • Workflow email messages aren't received.
  • The workflow doesn't work.


To resolve this issue, follow these steps:
  1. Investigate the user's permissions for the list, for the library, or for the task list. Make sure that the user account has at least Read permissions on the object.
    • If these permissions are present, go to step 2.
    • If these permissions aren't present, direct the user to the site administrator to have these permissions corrected.
  2. Verify that new alerts work. To do this, create a new alert on a test library or on a test list. Perform an action to generate the alert. For example, add, edit, or delete an item. Then, wait 15 minutes. If the alert isn't received, collect the following information, and then contact Microsoft Office 365 technical support:
    • Verify the last known time that alerts were received.
    • Record the exact steps to reproduce the issue in the new alert.
  3. If the new alert is received but existing alerts aren't received, the existing alerts may be corrupted. In this scenario, delete and then re-create all the user's alerts on the site. To do this, follow the steps in the following "Delete and re-create alerts" section.

Delete and then re-create alerts

To restore alert notification functionality, delete and then re-create all alerts. These steps must be performed on every site and on every subsite where the issue occurs. Be aware that fixing alerts on the root site doesn't resolve the issue on all subsites.

To delete and re-create an alert, follow these steps:
  1. Browse to the user's alert settings in SharePoint Online. To do this, do one of the following:

    • In the site, click Site Actions, and then click Site Settings. Under Site Administration, click User alerts.
    • Browse to the URL in question, and then append “/_layouts/sitesubs.aspx” to it. For example, revise the URL to the following:

  2. Select the user account. 
  3. Select all alerts, and then click Delete.
  4. Set up a new alert. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Click the name of the list or library in the left navigation pane.
    2. Do one of the following:
      • If it's a library, click the Library tag, click Alert Me on the ribbon, and then click Set alert on this ItemName.
      • If it's a list, click the List tab or the Calendar tab (depending on the kind of list.). Click Alert Me on the ribbon, and then click Set alert on this ItemName.
    3. Use the default settings on the New Alert page to set up the new alert, and then click OK.
  5. Test alert functionality. Perform an action to generate the alert. For example, add, edit, or delete an item. Then, wait 5-10 minutes to receive the alert.


This issue may occur if permissions aren't granted to the user's account in order to access the sites, the library, or the list in which the user wants to use alert functionality. This means that users must have permissions to the list or to the library for alerts and to the task list for tasks and for workflows. If the user has anonymous access permissions to a list, to a library, or to a task list, or through the NT Authority\Authenticated Users group, they don't receive alerts. If the user has direct permissions or permissions through a security group, you expect the alerts to work correctly.

SharePoint 2010 has built-in functionality to notify users through email notifications of certain changes in SharePoint. The same technical back-end service that sends these notifications is used by multiple components of the product. This back-end process runs every 5 minutes, and it sends email notifications in bulk to all users who meet certain criteria. Therefore, users don't receive the items immediately after the criteria are met. Instead, users must wait 5 minutes or more before they receive email notification.

The following items use notification functionality:
  • Alerts: Users can select Alert me in a list or in a library to receive an email notification that's based on criteria that they set up on that library or list. Users will receive an immediate email message notifying them that the alert was set up successfully.
  • Task list: A task list can be configured in the advanced settings to use the Send email when ownership is assigned option. When this option is enabled, the users who are specified in the Assigned to field receive an email message if a task is assigned to them, if a task changes ownership, if a task is overdue, and when a task is completed.
  • Workflows: Two general configurations are used in workflows that use this functionality to notify users by email. When a workflow is started on an item, the workflow initiator receives an email message that states that the workflow has been started. Then, depending on the configuration of the workflow, one or both of the following events may occur:
    • The most common workflow configuration creates a task on a task list on the SharePoint site to track the progress of the workflow. A “Workflow task list” that's created by the system, or any other task list can be used as the list on which the workflow creates tasks. If the task list is configured to send email messages to the owner or owners of the task, those users will receive an email message that notifies them that the task was created.
    • In the second kind of configuration, the workflow sends a standard email message to an audience. Users can use Microsoft SharePoint Designer to create custom workflows and to create steps in the workflow by which a canned-text email message is sent to the same audience every time. For example, a library might require users to choose a category for each document that they upload. A workflow can be created to send an email message to specific users or groups, based on the category that is selected for uploaded documents.


For more information about how to manage alerts, go to the following Microsoft website:
Manage alerts

Still need help? Go to the Office 365 Community website.


Article ID: 2412093 - Last Review: February 27, 2013 - Revision: 21.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Office 365 for enterprises (pre-upgrade)
  • Microsoft Office 365 for small businesses  (pre-upgrade)
  • Microsoft Office 365 for education  (pre-upgrade)
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online
o365 o365a o365e o365p o365062011 pre-upgrade o365m KB2412093

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