Creating alerts on documents in the new OneDrive for Business

Well, that was harder than it should be.  And it’s probably because with all the changes Microsoft has in store for Dropbox, er, I mean OneDrive for Business, they don’t really want us creating alerts on documents in our OneDrive for Business (or should I say My Sites, er, Personal Sites, wait no, SkyDrive Pro … wait no, right, ya, it’s OneDrive for Business now).


Looking to be alerted when changes occur on a document in your OneDrive for Business? (In our case, we have an automated script that updates a file weekly and I want to know it succeeds).

So What

In simpler times in SharePoint, you’d simply click on the Ribbon and choose to add an Alert.  But with all the changes to OneDrive for Business for “ease of use” for the “typical user”, this commonly requested feature is deeply buried.  I’m going to help uncover it for you (at least at this writing, May 16, 2016 … your mileage, in this agile age, may vary).

Now What

We need to do a few things to “get there” to create an alert:

  1. You need to go to “classic OneDrive” mode. Oh, right. Easy … Nope, that isn’t enough, there’s more.
  2. In the Classic Mode, there is still no Ribbon. But you can now display it. Click the Settings “Cog” in the top bar
  3. Turn the Ribbon “On”
  4. Select your file
  5. Now set your Alert options

Hope that helps someone.

OneDrive for Business - Creating Alerts

OneDrive for Business - Creating Alerts

OneDrive for Business - Creating Alerts



Karin created a video as well, providing a quick overview.

Create Alerts on Documents in the new OneDrive for Business – Office 365 Bytes from itgroove on Vimeo.

22 responses to “Creating alerts on documents in the new OneDrive for Business

  1. Thank you! I searched around and this was actually helpful (and worked!), whereas the other answers made no sense to me. Much appreciated!!

  2. THANK YOU so much I have been trying to get this done forever and no one could explain it. Now I can see when changes are made to a shared spreadsheet..>THANK YOU<

  3. Thanks for this, it works well. BUT….

    I’ve it setup on an excel file. It does give me alert emails – but almost constantly!! (In other words, if I’m working on this spreadsheets, in one “session” of work, I might get 10 or more alerts! 🙂

    Anyone have any ideas how to “tame” the alerts?


    1. When you set up the alerts change it to send them daily (and choose a time). If you set it to send them immediately, you’ll get a ton of messages. They should have an hourly option, in my opinion.

  4. Only works if the file/folder is your ODFB Library?
    Project manager created a shared folder, gave me Full Control. I want to be notified if anyone else adds or modifies a file, but the “Set Alert” is grayed out. On my OneDrive for Business library files and folders, it is not.

  5. Many thanks, works a treat. I’m unable to add another email account to send the notification to. Any advice?

  6. Though I realize this could change any day, this still works as of June 26th, 2018! Thank you for the helpful tip 🙂

  7. This walkthrough was outstanding, and the only one that actually worked. Others had missed the Show Ribbon step, leading to dead-ends. Thanks for posting this.

  8. I found that this sent alerts when ANY document was added / edited / deleted / breathed on in my ODFB.
    Do you know a way to customise it for individual folders? I do hope so!

    1. Hi Cait, this sounds like a situation where creating a custom flow in Power Automate would be appropriate and doable likely. You may find yourself adding a custom column to facilitate this as well.

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