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Modifying a SharePoint 2010 workflow email

The out-of-the-box SharePoint 2010 workflow approver email notification no longer contains a link to the workflow task associated with the workflow item.  While that’s ok if the approver is using Microsoft Office 2010 and the document is an Office document, if either of those are not the case then there is no easy way for the approver to get back to the task to approve or reject it.  I went out in search of how to fix the OOTB workflow email and having to cull this information from a number of sources, I thought it would be helpful to have it all in one place.


First, you’ll notice an out-of-the-box email references the “Open this task” button, but does not include the link to the SharePoint workflow task. This is fine if the document is a Microsoft Office document and the person approving it is using Office 2010, but there doesn’t work for other circumstances.


To adjust this, we need to open up the site and then workflow in SharePoint Designer. Note that in this case we are modifying the OOTB workflow itself, which will change it for all instances of the site collection. If you want to make a unique instance of this workflow, right click on the workflow and choose “Copy and Modify”.

Click Edit Workflow


Next, click on Approval.

Under “Customization” click Change the behavior of a single task.

Under the “When a Task is Pending” section, find the line that says “then Email task notification to Current Task:Assigned To” and click the underlined link.

The Define E-Mail Message window opens. Insert the highlighted text, select the text you wish to make a link, then click the Edit Hyperlink button.

In the Address field, click the button, then click Add or Change Lookup, and choose “Current Task: Approval” as the Data source and “Form_URN” as the Field from source:

Click OK all the way back out of the dialog boxes, then Publish your workflow back to the server.

Start the workflow on a new document and you should get the modified email.

Click the link and it should take you directly to the task page!

It’s important to note that this is not the only location an email is defined. Overdue notices, for example, are defined elsewhere. You may need to make the same modification to multiple places in the workflow.

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  1. Thanks Derek,

    Is it possible to open the Infopath form in a client mode (like, the way it opens when you click Open this Task button from Outlook client/ Word) from my approval email body other than this approach?

    In other words, where do i see the script for Outlook email clients Open This Task ribbon script, so that i can try to mimic the same functionality from the email body/ any thoughts?

  2. Please let me know how to customize search functionality in sharepoint2010. I want to pass multiple parameters like project name, requestor name, request date etc as a search criteria and limit my search scope only to the lists and libraries created by me.

    Please note I want to do this without writing code in VS2010.

  3. Thank You very much. This is exactly what I was looking for and just implemented just now

  4. Hi,
    I tried using something similar (I modified a copied version, using the “Copy and modify”) and the modification that I did was to show a link to the workflow history in the task sent to the approvers. After I published this modified version, however, something went wrong with the “people/group picker” controls, when I try to use them to create the workflow there’s a message saying that “The form cannot be sent due to an error” (I don’t know exactly the message, because I use it in portuguese, but the literaly translation would be that). Anyone knows how to fix this? Thank you

  5. This works fine. However, when you respond to the task, you are redirected to the Task-list- this is from an enduser perspective a bit odd. Is it possible to be redirected to the initial list – the list where the workflow runs?

  6. @Lucas
    Another reason for the issue you mentioned is the installation of the SharePoint Designer SP1 update. After I uninstalled it, I didn’t have the problem anymore.

  7. you have saved my day !!! thanks just what i need to complete our custom change request workflow as we orginally discussed in the prlimary planning.

  8. I would like to change the initial email notification that comes to you when you start a workflow, not the one that goes as tasks (for which you have instructions above). Do you know where in the workflow you can do this?

  9. Hello! I am enjoying reading your great blog entry.

    I would like to ask a question. In the beginning of your article, you talk about how it is necessary to copy and modify a workflow if you don’t want to change the general workflow being used on the entire site collection.

    I, as a normal privleged user, have a site on a test system. On that site I have full control.
    I created a new custom list with a very simple approval – sharepoint 2010 out of the box workflow.
    I want to make a change to at least one of the mail messages in the workflow.
    I open the site in sharepoint designer 2010.
    When I click on the Workflows, I don’t see anything there.
    When I click on Lists and Libraries, and then on the name of my custom list, I see one entry under workflows – it is titles Modified workflow.
    Is there a way, from this view, to get to the point of creating the copied workflow that I would need to modify?
    Thank you!

  10. I have been looking for this solution for 2 days, seriously!!! Thanks so much its really appreciated. 🙂

  11. it was very useful, i only have one question, when the approver selects Approved or rejected, the window he sees after clicking lands to the list of all tasks and i want it to land to the home page, can you sugeest what i need to do in sp designer 2010 in order to achieve that?

  12. I, too, want to change the standard wording in the workflow email. The workflow I’m using is not a approval process. My workflow will be attached to a series of documents. Assigned personnel must read the document and them mark the task complete. Creating the workflow itself is not a problem, but I need to alter that standard email message. Will your instructions work in my situation?

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