3 Easy Steps to Get Email Alerts and RSS Feeds in SharePoint!

If you work for a company that manages multiple large projects at a time, you know that the key to a successful project is most often efficient and effective communication and collaboration. Microsoft Office SharePoint is perfect for this! It allows you to create a server which houses many different sites for discussion, collaboration, and file version control. It is simply a great tool for project management.

But even with the help of a great SharePoint site, it can still be difficult for a busy professional to keep up with all of the updates and changes that come up with any given project. Enter: Email Alerts and RSS Feeds.

We’re living in a web 2.0 world — and it’s time to take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer. Now you don’t have to frequently check and re-check a SharePoint discussion or wiki for updated content. Instead, if you have administrator access, you can configure the site to enable outgoing email and have updates sent directly to you.

I’ll show you how to get started with email alerts and RSS feeds in three painless, quick and easy steps!

Easy Step # 1: Enabling Outgoing Email in SharePoint

To enable your SharePoint site to send email alerts to users, all you need to have is the address of your SMTP server, and an email address that can receive the replies from users responding to the alert emails. This email address should probably be some kind of administrator or support address.

With this information handy, navigate to your SharePoint site’s Central Administration page (in the example below, the site is titled “Operations”) and click Outgoing Email Settings.

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On the Outgoing Email Settings page enter your SMTP server’s address and the Reply-to email address mentioned earlier into their respective input boxes. The From address is the email address that the users will see in the From field when they receive email alerts from the SharePoint server.

This address can be arbitrarily made-up, since the users will be replying to the actual email address you put in the Reply-to field. Of course, I still recommend you use something to the effect of [email protected] so your users know who they are getting an email from.

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Once you’ve done this hit OK, and you are done with the setup! Pretty simple right? Let’s move on to the next step.

Easy Step # 2: Enabling Email Alerts in SharePoint

Now that the site has been configured to allow sending of email alerts, all your users need to do to start getting alerts sent to them is to turn the feature on. To do this as a user, simply navigate to the SharePoint site you want to be alerted about, click the Actions menu, and then click the Alert Me button (the site in the example below is a discussion page called “Process Improvement Discussion”).

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On the New Alert page, you will see that the Alert Title and Send Alerts To fields are already populated. These correlate to the subject line and the to field respectively, in your email client. If you want to change or add other email addresses to be alerted here, or if you would like to change the alert title to meet a set filter or rule in your email client, you may do so here.

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After you have decided on all these items, scroll down the page to set some other options. You can change what types of items you want to be alerted on (such as new items or changes to older items), filter these items based on what changes occur, and even decide whether you want to receive an email every time something happens, or just receive daily or weekly summaries. These options are extremely useful for those of us who want to stay current on projects, but don’t want to be inundated with emails from the SharePoint Server.

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Once you’ve done that, just press OK and you have email alerts! Now, let’s move on to the final step.

Easy Step # 3: Enabling RSS Feeds in SharePoint

If you thought that was painless, you are in for a real treat! RSS feeds are great because they are arguably even more useful than email alerts (we can’t always be there to check our email, right?) and they are enabled by default on almost any SharePoint page that you have on your server.

Just navigate to the page you want your feed on, and hit Actions just as before. Now click on View RSS Feed. Whatever you have as your default feed handler will kick in, and then you just follow the normal steps to subscribe to the feed.

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RSS feeds can be turned off on your page if you like, just go to the settings menu for your page, click RSS settings, and then turn the option off. But really, who wants less information?

That’s it, we’re done! Quick, painless and easy. That’s what we’re all about here at TST. Have fun with your shiny new alerts and feeds, and keep your browser locked to TST for more useful tips and “how-to’s.”

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