Alerts Overview

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Alerts are an e-mail notification service in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Users can create alerts to notify them of changes to list items (item-level alerts), documents, lists (list-level alerts), or document libraries.

Alerts in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0are quite flexible; when you create an alert you have options such as when to be notified and what kind of changes trigger the alert. Users and administrators can manage alerts, and developers can customize alerts.

Alert Filters

When a user creates an alert, the alert definition enables the user to apply predefined filters. For example, the user can create an alert only for items he or she created or last modified. Alerts can also be added for items that appear in certain views.


Only some of the views are available as filters for alerts.

Managing Alerts

You can manage alerts from the Site Settings page.

To view and edit your alerts

  1. At the top of the page, click Welcome username.

  2. On the menu, click My Settings. The Personal Settings page appears.

  3. Click My Alerts.

An administrator can view and delete (but not edit) alerts for any users on a site.

To view or delete alerts

  1. Click Site Actions.

  2. On the menu, click Site Settings. The Site Settings page appears.

  3. Click User Alerts.

After an alert has been created, changes that match the criteria specified in the alert are recorded in an event log. Alerts are generated by a timer job that reads the event log, formats the alert e-mail by using an alert template, and then sends that e-mail to the user.

Customizing Alerts

Developers can customize alerts by:

  • Adding or removing buttons from the alert e-mail.

  • Changing the cascading style sheet used to format the alert. This is particularly useful for sites that want to create a consistent appearance.

  • Changing the latency of "immediate" alerts by adjusting the default timer interval.

  • Modifying the templates used to create alerts.

  • Creating custom filters by using Collaborative Application Markup Language (CAML) queries in the <filters> element in the alert templates.

  • Customizing alerts by using the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0object model. For more information about how to customize alerts programmatically, see SPAlert.

Alert Templates

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 includes a set of predefined alert templates. These alert templates are stored in Alerttemplates.xml. Alerttemplates.xml defines the format, contents, and properties used to create alert messages from each list type Developers can customize alerts by modifying a copy of Alerttemplates.xml and then loading the customized alert templates by using the command stsadm -o updatealerttemplates.


Do not modify Alerttemplates.xml. Doing so may result in loss of functionality when upgrading or installing service packs.

See Also