Creating an Approval Workflow for SharePoint 2013

How do I create an approval workflow in SharePoint 2013?

SharePoint Help: Now that you have an amazing intranet on SharePoint 2013 you don’t want everyone putting things in your document libraries unless you approve it first. The best way to keep good content on your intranet and bad content out is by attaching an approval workflow to the library. This blog post will give you step by step instructions on how to customize SharePoint and attach an approval workflow to a document library.

Step by Step Instructions on How to Create a SharePoint 2013 Approval Workflow

Step 1: Navigate to the document library where you would like to attach the workflow to; an example of this is by clicking the Documents title on your Home Page shown below:

You will know when you are in the document library when the five titled boxes disappear, shown below:

Step 2: Click the LIBRARY tab in the top left corner shown below, the ribbon will appear, click Workflow Settings, and then click Add a Workflow:

Step 3: Make sure the drop down is This List is selected in the dropdown. Click Add a workflow.  

Step 4:

  • Select Approval as the workflow type from the drop down
  • Type a unique name for this workflow: Approval
  • Make the drop Down: New task list
  • Select a history list: Workflow history (new)
  • Make sure this is checked: Allow this workflow to be manually started by an authenticated user with Edit Item permissions.
  • Make sure this is checked: Start this workflow when a new item is created.
  • Make sure this is checked: Start this workflow when an item is changed.
  • Click Next


The next prompt that will appear is the “Change a Workflow” prompt which will allow you to assign the task to an individual, e-mail them a message, assign a due date, give a duration for the task, carbon copy someone, and give approval or rejection specifics. Depending on your specifics of the workflow you may want to configure your settings and message a little different than I have mine. Either way everyone’s SharePoint Implementation is different.

The prompt looks like the following:

Step 5:

  • Assign Approver
  • Write approver a message that will appear in the e-mail sent to them by SharePoint
  • Make sureend on first rejection” is selected
  • Click “Save”


SharePoint Help

The new workflow will be added to the workflow list shown below:

When you see the above, the workflow has been attached to the library already. Once someone adds a document the person you specified above to receive the notification will get the following e-mail from SharePoint with the message you configured.

The receiver of the message should click the title of the file that was uploaded to review it; this is in blue and underlined. If they approve they should click the following button in Outlook shown below called Open this Task.


Once this button is clicked the following will appear:


Once Approve is selected the document will now appear in the library.

Workflow Errors:

If you incur any of the following errors please contact the SharePoint Experts at IncWorx. 847-839-9679 ext 201.

  • Workflow items in list are not appearing (for 2013)
  • The form cannot be rendered… (for 2013)
  • The document resides in a document library… (for 2013)
  • Outlook not launching the workflow task (for 2013)

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Comments for Creating an Approval Workflow for SharePoint 2013

Name: Supriya
Time: Wednesday, September 25, 2013

All users with 'Edit' permission are able to update/cancel workflow tasks created by other users. How can this be restricted?

Name: Sumit
Time: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

@Supriya: You have to create a separate view for the same... Where you have to configure in view, " In Show the items when following is true... "Show the item when column"... select created by... Equal to... [ME]. Hope this will help you...

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