How to use the Update List Item action in a SharePoint Designer workflow

Learn how you can use the Update List Item action in a SharePoint Designer workflow to update the values of fields in a particular item in a SharePoint list or SharePoint document library.

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The main goal of the Update List Item action in a SharePoint Designer workflow is to update the values of fields of one item that is located in a SharePoint list or a SharePoint document library.

When you add an Update List Item action to a SharePoint Designer workflow the following phrase appears:

Update item in this list

And when you click on this list in the phrase for the SharePoint Designer action, the Update List Item dialog box appears.

Using the Update List Item dialog box

You can use the Update List Item dialog box in a SharePoint Designer workflow to update an existing item in a SharePoint list or a SharePoint document library.

The Update List Item dialog box consists of 3 main sections:

  1. A drop-down list box where you can select the SharePoint list or library in which the item that has to be updated is located.
  2. A list box where you can add, edit, and remove the values of the fields that have to be updated for the item.
  3. A section where you can specify a field name and value that can be used to identify the item that should be updated. You can either specify a static value or use the Define Workflow Lookup dialog box (by clicking on the function button) in this section to lookup a particular value for the field that identifies the list item you want to update.

Example of how the Update List Item action works

Suppose you’ve got a SharePoint list named MyList with fields as shown in figure 1.

A table representation of the MyList SharePoint list, displaying its columns and 4 rows of data

Figure 1. A table representation of the MyList SharePoint list, displaying its columns and 4 rows of data.

If you enter the data in the Update List Item dialog box as displayed in figure 2 to update Item 2 in the SharePoint list,

The data to update Item 2 in the MyList SharePoint list as filled out in the Update List Item dialog box

Figure 2. The data to update Item 2 in the MyList SharePoint list as filled out in the Update List Item dialog box.

then the relationship between what you fill out in the Update List Item dialog box and what is consequently updated or used as a lookup in the SharePoint list would look something like in figure 3.

The relationship between the data that is entered in the Update List Item dialog box and how the list item is eventually updated in the SharePoint list

Figure 3. The relationship between the data that is entered in the Update List Item dialog box and how the list item is eventually updated in the SharePoint list.

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