Smartsheet Tips: All About System Columns

With the latest Smartsheet update, we added a new column type that gives you the ability to automatically keep track of certain data points like a “modified by” date or “created by” date – also known as System Columns.  

System Columns are really handy for instantaneously keeping track of certain data points. They immediately add certain types of data into your rows, tracking information like the date a new row was added, or the name of the person that last updated a row.  

This week, we want to give you some tips and tricks to customize one of these new System Columns – the Auto-Number Column, to fit your processes and streamline your collaboration.  

Automagic!  Using Auto-Number System Columns

Automatically adding a unique identifier to a row is helpful in so many different scenarios: requests for help, customer orders, maintenance updates... the list goes on.

You can use the Auto-Number column to assign a simple value (e.g. 1, 2, 3) to new row submissions. If you’d like to make this column a bit more powerful and specific to your processes, change the Display Format criteria to create a combination of numbers and letters that provide context for your unique process.

Here are some examples of how you could use the Auto-Number Column to help streamline your processes:

Track Submissions by Quarter Looking to break sheet submissions down by quarter? An Auto-Number Column is perfect for this. At the beginning of the quarter, insert a Prefix value of “Q1-” in the column Display Format.  With this formatting updated, when new items are entered to your sheet, the Row ID will automatically include “Q1-” in front of a unique number.  When Q2 rolls around, all you need to do is update the Prefix from “Q1-” to “Q2-”.  

The unique numbers will continue, with the new quarter added as a prefix.  If you would like a new starting number at the beginning of each quarter, all you need to do is enter a Starting Number of “1” to the Starting Number field in the formatting form.

Track Submissions by Date Another handy prefix for Auto-Number Columns: add a date prefix to the Auto-Number Column to combine an automated unique ID with the date.  In the prefix field, add “{MM}/{DD}/{YY} -”.  This specifies to append the date in MM/DD/YY format to the prefix before a unique ID number.

There are four other types of system-generated Columns to choose from, in addition to Auto-Number:

  • Created (Date) This System Column is super handy for keeping track of the exact date and time that a row was created – GREAT to use with web forms!
  • Created By Use this System Column to keep track of the email address of any collaborator who created a row.
  • Modified (Date) Use this System Column to keep track of the last time a change was made to each row. 
  • Modified By This System Column will automatically keep track of the email address for the last person who updated data in a row.

NOTE: For both ‘Modified (Date)’ and ‘Modified By’ columns, Discussion updates, new attachments, and formatting changes (like a different font color) are not logged in this column.

A few other handy things to know about the new System Columns in Smartsheet:

  • Each type of System Column can only be used once in each sheet.
  • The cells in System Columns start out empty, and will generate value as you and others input data and save your sheet.
  • The values in System Columns are display-only.  You can adjust the formatting options for System Columns to adjust the appearance of these values.
  • If you change an existing column in your sheet to a Modified Date/By or Created Date/By system column, you will overwrite any existing cell data you have in those columns.

What are your ideas for using System Columns to save time?  Let us know.

Til next week, dig in and explore!

- Support Team



Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Stuart, The System Column option 'Created (Date)' acts as a time stamp. It automatically notes the date and time something new is added to your sheet - pretty handy! Thanks, Kelly

The Created by column always displays as "" when a row is generated by a form submission. It seems that this field should be able to automatically pass in the user name when a collaborator of the sheet fills out the form. This is a major disadvantage compared to Google drive forms and sheets which collects the user name (gmail) automatically.

Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Jim, Thanks for the suggestion – I've shared your feedback with our product team to consider for future Smartsheet enhancements. In the meantime, you can try adding a field to your web form for users to submit their email address along with all of the other information you're collecting. Thanks again, Kelly

I've been looking everywhere for how to find the last modified date for a specific cell. I would like to find out when a checkbox value is changed to 1 so I can automatically know when it was completed. Any suggestions?

Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Mike, Checking the cell history is the only way to get this information, which is a manual process. Thanks for the suggestion of an automatic way to get this information, I've shared it with our Product team! Best, Kelly

Wanted to check in and see if there was any change on this. We need to set up Reminders prompted by the date a checkbox was checked. (We would use Notifications but need the ability to put in messages to the team members, which can be done with Reminders but not with Notifications.) If there is a formula workaround for this, that would also be great. I tried using the following, which fills in today's date, but it is not fixed, and updates everyday. =IF(([Completion Checkbox]1 = 1), TODAY(), "") Thanks!

Emily Esposito's picture
Hi Angelene -- In Smartsheet today, reminders and alerts are only triggered by date columns. There isn't a way to set-up reminders prompted by the date the checkbox was checked. However, I have passed along this comment to our Product team. Best, Emily

The Created and Modified date formatted cells appear in US date format (mm/dd/yy) no matter what the personal settings are. Is this a bug?

Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Simon, Yes, this was a bug – confirmed and fixed on October 8th. Please let us know if you're still seeing the issue, happy to help! Thanks, Kelly

I am part of an international team that is using SmartSheet for project management. We have come up against the usual issue in such an environment of whether to interpret, for example, 6/7/14 as June 07, 2014 or July 06, 2014. For SmartSheet to be an effective tool in the international setting, having dates formatted with the month in alpha-characters, for example “04-Sep-14”, is essential. This is needed in the Column Properties rather than the Personal Settings. I understand that individual users can change their personal settings according to their preferred language and that this affects the date display. However, in collaborative on-line meetings where the SmartSheet is presented by a user in one country but seen by participants in various other countries, having dates formatted with the month in alpha-characters is critical to avoid international misunderstandings.

Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Daniel, Thanks for your feedback – I've shared your request for different date formats with our product team. In the meantime, you can insert a text/number column and then use the month formula (info on that formula here: to find the month. Please feel free to email us at if you need some extra help getting this formula to work in your project sheets. Thanks! Kelly

Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Tomas, You can use the LEFT or RIGHT and VALUE functions to make the numbers in the autonumber column a number. Would look something like: =VALUE(LEFT([Row ID]1, 4)) If you have any other questions, feel free to email us at for more help. Thanks! Kelly

Any update on this issue above originally raised by Jim as below: The Created by column always displays as "" when a row is generated by a form submission. It seems that this field should be able to automatically pass in the user name when a collaborator of the sheet fills out the form. This is a major disadvantage compared to Google drive forms and sheets which collects the user name (gmail) automatically. This is a bit of an annoyance and prevents the deployment for certain aspects where we need to capture the email address accurately. Is this planned to be developed any time soon?

Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Neil, Thanks for adding your vote to this update to the "Created by" system column, I've shared your request with our product team, though it's not on the product roadmap for the near future. In the meantime, if you've got a system that works well with Google Forms, you can sync Google Forms submissions with Smartsheet ( Let us know if you have any other questions! Thanks, Kelly

The created date has been great to use on webforms. My question is when you have folks submitting webforms from different time zones - what time is stamped ? Is it the local time of the smartsheet owner or is it the local time of the webform submitter? Thanks!

Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Joe, Good question - the timestamp that you see in your sheet reflects the time that you have your Smartsheet account set to. To update the time setting in your account, you can adjust your personal settings. Thanks! Kelly

Kelly Anthony's picture
Hi Caitlin, Today in Smartsheet, auto-number columns only capture date and time changes. I've shared your suggestion with our product team – would be a great addition to our system columns. Thanks! Kelly

Hello, we are implementing an auto number for creating unique row ID #'s and ideally we would like the system to auto-generate a new sequential number for each new row. However, its only assigning existing rows up to row 68 a number then stops. Is there a way that the number can carry on for new rows and / or even existing rows beyond the 68th row on the sheet?

Emily Esposito's picture
Jesse, great question. Please email us at and someone from our support team would be happy to help you. Thank you, Emily

I want to display the auto-number assigned to the request in the Form confirmation message so the requester knows what number their entry was assigned (so they can reference it later in emails/etc). I can't find any web form option that allows that. Any thoughts?

Emily Esposito's picture
Hi Michael and Mary Ellen -- thank you for your comments. The ability to display the auto-number field in an email is not available in Smartsheet today. However, I have passed this feedback on to our Product team for future consideration. Thank you, Emily

Is there a way to add data from a webform to the auto numbering system. For example if you have two sites could you create a numbering system that would automatically input 'site 1' ie abc0001site1 or for 'site 2' abc0001site2

Emily Esposito's picture
Hi Jonathon -- Unfortunately, this is not possible in Smartsheet today. I have passed this along to our Product team as they continue to work on web forms. As a workaround, you could have site 1 or site 2 entered as a default hidden field via the web form, and then have a third column that adds the two together with a formula. Best, Emily

Does SmartSheet have the capability of auto-numbering in multilevel formats? I would like for the numbering level to change with each indent. For example: 1.A.1.a. or

Emily Esposito's picture
Hi Debbi -- Smartsheet does not currently have this feature, however I have submitted this feedback to our Product team for future consideration. Best, Emily

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