Smartsheet Tips: All About System Columns


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, Comment 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


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.

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?

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!

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?

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.

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

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?

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!

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?

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

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

I guess auto-numbering will really prove its mettle if it can also auto-number sub-tasks (children tasks) in line with the format of its parent task. For example, Parent A is 1.00; Children A1 to A3 are 1.01, 1.02 and 1.03 respectively. Parent B without children tasks is 2.00. Whilst Parent C is 3.00; Children C1 to C4 are 3.01, 3.02, 3.03 and 3.04 respectively! So if for any reason after initial set-up Parent B is to have one sub-task, then Smartsheet auto-numbers it 2.01 - say after refresh. Can Smartsheet currently do this? If not, when might it be added?

I just watched a video "Work Smart: Simplify New Product Development webinar" in which it said auto-numbering automatically occurs for hierarchy. This is at about the 7:50 mark in the video. I like the concept and would love to know the best way to achieve this.

We have a sheet to track issues (simple help desk) which has a quick turnaround for resolutions (often within the same day). We want to capture the date and time the ticket changes states (In Queue, Triage, In Progress, Validate, Closed) how can we capture that info for reporting?

Hi Bill, did you get an answer? I need to capture same information you asked. It will be great if you can share it with me. Thanks! Gustavo

how do i track who edited the sheet. it shows as publisheduser @ but i need the emails to appear , same for discussion

Hi Benjamin -- You will need to share the sheet, rather than publish it, to track with email addresses. Let us know if you have any other questions! -Emily

Hello JP! Yes, you can show the Modified Date column in your report. It will show the last modified date for each sheet. Here's another helpful blog on columns: Hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Let's say...In my webform a drop down has a choice of A, B or C. If the user chooses A then the auto number will be A0001 and on. If the User chooses C for example, then the auto number will be C0001 and on. So the next A choice would be A0002. Because the same webform is used for multiple things I would like the auto numbering to reflect the choices made. Is this possible?

We allow our clients to submit a web form which feeds to a ticket tracker. It assigns a new ticket number. That Smartsheet is internal only and not for the client. IS there a way to auto respond that new ticket number to the web form writer? I have the auto respond set now to reply we have received and it is in our Smartsheet, but no number is given. Can that canned response be altered?

Brad, yes, the canned response can be changed. When editing the form, select Form Options > Confirmation Options. This can be customized, but it cannot contain dynamic data such as an auto number. Auto numbers also cannot be included in the confirmation email. You can send the row to the user after it is submitted, which would include the auto number, or you can use Zapier to build a zap which can email the content of the row to an email address (entered in the row, when the row is submitted). Thanks for the question!

Hi Team, I'm looking to utilise Smartsheet as a complaints management tool via webforms. It works really well but the only stumbling block I've come across is that I haven't figured out a way to show the age of a complaint. I've added the timestamp but I'd love to be able to have a column that shows the number of days that has passed since the complaint was logged as a webform. Any ideas? Thanks for an awesome product, Alwyn

Hello Alwyn, Add a Text/Number column to the sheet with a formula that calculates the number of days between the Created (Date) and TODAY(). Using the formula =TODAY() - DATEONLY(Created3) , Created3 is the cell reference of the Created (Date) cell. Thanks! - The Smartsheet Team

Is it possible yet to loop through a date column and a text column to find the last entry for the text column based on date?

Hello Ed, Here are a couple ideas for you to work with: You can use the formula =MAX(DateRange:DateRange) This will display the max date from the range of cells. You can use this to identify the last entry. You could also build a report that pulls in the entire sheet and then sort based on date, to show the most recent tasks at the top of the report. Hope this helps, thanks! - The Smartsheet Team

I like this auto modified column option - but what if i want to see line by line in my sheet who last made the changes. currently when i make a change to a line item - it shows in the "modified by column" or modified date column that i made changes to the sheet last.. but i would like to know if i can see who updated line 10..20..30... and not just show the person that updated the sheet last. thanks, M!

Thanks for your question, Marta. You can get a more detailed list of who modified and when, by right clicking the desired cell and selecting "View History." This will provide a detailed list of any changes. Regards! - The Smartsheet Team


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