Require approval of items in a list or library

Require approval of items in a list or library

Lists and libraries often contain sensitive information, such as marketing campaign budgets or human resources initiatives. It can be important to have only “official” versions of items or files viewable by specific users.

You can require the approval of an item or file before the content becomes visible to specific users. By requiring approval, organizations can apply a significant level of quality and security to its sensitive content.

You can create lists in Microsoft SharePoint, the Lists app in Microsoft 365, or Teams. To learn more, see Add list items. Learn to get started with Lists in Microsoft Teams.

  1. Navigate to the list that you want to require approval for.

  2. Select Settings Settings: update your profile, install software and connect it to the cloud , and then List settings.

  3. In the General settings section, select Versioning settings.

  4. In the Content Approval section, select Yes in answer to the Require content approval for submitted items? In the Item Version History section, specify whether you want to create versions each time an item is edited. You can also choose to limit the number of versions that are retained.

  5. In the Draft Item Security section, determine which users can see draft items in the list.

    Tip: If you require content approval for a list or library that already contains items, all of the items in the library are marked Approved.

  6. You can choose any of the following:

    • Users who can read items in the list.

    • Only users who can edit items in the list.

    • Only users who can approve items in the list, and the item author.

  7. Select OK.

If someone submits an item to a list or library that requires approvals, it is in Pending status until someone (who has at least Manage Lists permissions level) approves it. While it is awaiting approval, it remains in Pending status.

Usually, when an item is in Pending status, only the item originator and the people who have permissions to manage lists and libraries can see it. After its status changes from Pending to Approved, it becomes visible to anyone who has permission to view the list or library.

Rejected articles stay in the list or library until the originator—or someone else who has the necessary permissions—deletes them. Any items or files that already exist in the list or library are granted Approved status automatically.

Important: If security in the site library is configured to allow any user to read items, then anyone who has Read permissions to the site can see all items in the list or library, whether the items are in Approved status.

Note: Only users with Full Control or Design permissions can alter SharePoint library settings.

  1. Go to the SharePoint library that you want to require approval for.

  2. Select Settings Settings: update your profile, install software and connect it to the cloud , and then Library Settings.

    If you don't see these menu items, select Library, and in the Settings group, select

    Library settings.

  3. To open the Versioning Settings page, under General Settings, select Versioning settings.

    Library settings dialog with Versioning selected.
  4. In the Content Approval section, select Yes in answer to the Require content approval for submitted items? In the Document Version History section, specify whether you want SharePoint to create versions when a file is edited. You can also choose to limit the number of versions that are retained.

  5. In the Draft Item Security section, determine which users can see draft items in the document library.

    Versioning choices dialog box

    Tip: If you require content approval for a list or library that already contains items, all of the items in the library are marked Approved.

  6. You can choose any of the following:

    • Users who can read items in the list.

    • Only users who can edit items in the list.

    • Only users who can approve items in the list, and the item author.

  7. Select OK.

If someone submits an item or file to a list or library that requires approvals, it is in Pending status until someone who has the necessary permissions to do so approves it. While it is awaiting approval, it remains in Pending status.

Usually, when an item or file is in Pending status, only the originator of the item or file and the people who have permissions to manage lists and libraries can see it. After its status changes from Pending to Approved, it becomes visible to anyone who has permission to view the list or library. Rejected articles stay in the list or library until the originator—or someone else who has the necessary permissions—deletes them. Any items or files that already exist in the list or library are granted Approved status automatically.

Important: If security in the site library is configured to allow any user to read items, then anyone who has Read permissions to the site can see all items in the list or library, whether or not the items are in Approved status.

Only persons who have Full Control or Design permissions can alter List or Library settings.

To set up required approval of items or files

  1. If the site list or library is not already open, in the Quick Launch pane, select its name.

  2. On the ribbon, select the Library tab in the Library Tools or List Tools group.

  3. If you are working in a library, select Library Settings. If you are working in a list, select List settings. In this example, the Library Settings page opens.

    Library settings page with Versioning Settings link displayed

  4. Under General Settings, select Versioning settings. The Versioning Settings page opens.

    Versioning Selections page showing Approve selections

  5. In the Content Approval section, select Yes in answer to the Require content approval for submitted items? question.

  6. In the Draft Item Security section, determine which users can see draft items in the document library. In this example, Only users who can approve items (and the author of the item) is selected.

  7. Select OK.

    The following example shows Approved items in a library after the Require content approval option was set to Yes. Because these files were already in the library, they were approved automatically.

    SharePoint libarary after Approval is required. Files already in the library are in Approved status.

Your organization might, eventually, find it inconvenient or unnecessary to require approval for every item of file in a particular list or library. That requirement not only demands time from the person who has to grant or deny approval, but it also prevents people from easily collaborating on a file or item. If you determine that your organization no longer needs to have every item or file approved, you can remove the requirement.

To remove the requirement for approval of items or files in a list or library

  1. If the site list or library is not already open, in the Quick Launch pane, select its name.

  2. On the ribbon, select the Library tab in the Library Tools group or the List tab in the List Tools group.

  3. If you are working in a library, select Library Settings. If you are working in a list, select List Settings. In this example, the Library Settings page opens.

    Library settings page with Versioning Settings link displayed

  4. Under General Settings, select Versioning settings. The Versioning Settings page opens.

  5. In the Content Approval section, select No in answer to the Require content approval for submitted items? question. A warning dialog appears.

    Warning message that appears when No is selected in the Content Approval section of the Versoning Settings dialog box

  6. To close the message, select OK.

  7. To close the Versioning Settings dialog, select OK. When you return to your list or library, Approval Status is no longer available on the page. All users who have permission to view the list or library can view all content that resides there.

For more information, see Approve or reject items or files in a site list or library.

A subscription to make the most of your time

Need more help?

Expand your Office skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.

×