I have created a custom approval workflow in a document library. On customize workflow screen I selected the following option:
[x] Update the approval status (use this workflow to control content approval)

During workflow testing I was surprised when SharePoint reported the following error:
“An error has occured in Approval.“

The solution for this problem is very simple, if you want your workflow to update approval status you need to enable content approval in your document library. To enable content approval here is what you need to do: Go to your document library Settings > Versioning Settings and select „Yes” for “Require content approval for submitted items?“ option.


  1. http:// Says

    My bro Where can I find document library settings.

  2. http:// Says

    You can see where this option is hidden on this image: http://sharepoint-screencasts.com/blog/Lists/Photos/122606_0648_ForceChecko1.jpg

  3. http:// Says

    I just couldn’t explain where this error was coming from, thank you very much,


  4. http:// Says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Why isn’t this more obvious? Could the error message be more specific so this would be easier to track down?

  5. http:// Says

    I noticed a problem with this solution, or a least something I didn’t think should happen. Note that I am using the built-in Approval workflow on a list I’ve setup for Invoice Processing.
    When I employ the steps you’ve shown my list now has a new column named “Approval Status” and shows the status of Approved, even for workflows that are still in progress.
    Any thoughts?

  6. http:// Says


    That’s an expected (?) side affect of turning on Content Approval. Even without any workflows running, if you turn on Content Approval for a document library, any existing documents are automatically considered “Approved”. If you think about it that makes sense. If I had thousands of docs in my library and I then turned on Content Approval, if it didn’t automatically set them all to Approved, then they would all be sitting at “Draft” or “Pending” which would force me to go to each one individually and Approve it (otherwise no one except the originator could see them).


  7. http:// Says

    @Kevin: Yes, that is the normal behavior. Otherwise it would not work…

  8. http:// Says

    i have a problem with regards to Content Approval.. I have set it to Yes in one of my doc libs programmatically, now tha problem is, whenever i made update to that doc lib thru other libs the Approved ones resets to Pending (e.g. i have another list that whenever a change of status would change the status in that list — i’ve done this thru timerjobs)

    Any thoughts on how to do this programmatically???


  9. Ajay Says

    Hi guys,

    I have a requirement where I need to send automatic emails to the submitter of the out of the box approval workflow once its finished. I tried to create SharePoint workflow for sending email in the item changed event, but no hit. Would be gratefull if you can provide a solution for this.

  10. Mark Millett Says

    The person causing the execution of the workflow, like the person filling out a SharePoint form with a workflow, credentials are used. If that person is not one of the Approvers, the workflow will fail.

  11. Anna Ghimpusan Says

    I have created an approval workflow for a customized library, on a 2013 SharePoint. Now I need to update/change this workflow, but after accessing Workflow Settings, when I try to continue the changes and hit “Next”, I get message Please select a workflow template. However the field for workflow templates is grayed oud and no template can be selected (initial template was Approval-SharePoint 2010). How can I solve this error?

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