How can I disallow the use of "My Smartsheet Contacts" for my users?

mzpjames ✭✭✭
edited 04/06/24 in Smartsheet Basics

Smartsheet Contact columns/fields are cool because they are like contact cards, and you can assign multiple people. However, they are frustrating to use because you have no control over how assigned people will appear.

Our solution has very many sheets, but one of the primary sheets contains a list of tasks with about 50 columns of important information, with 10 of those being contact type columns, and 5 of those being multi-select contact type columns.

At first, we had people showing as either First/Last Name or Email Address. This is a well-known bug in Smartsheet with the only workaround (kludge) being to setup a "helper text column" for each contact column, storing the email address as text there, then using an Index/Match function to force the email address back into the contact column. BUT, this workaround will not work if the contact column is required to be a multi-select contact column.

Now, we are seeing people show up on our sheets with their contact information showing some funny nickname (or even an accidental nickname). Because each user has their very own "My Smartsheet Contact" list where they can completely customize how people's names are displayed on sheets.

Here is an example where I have gone into "My Smartsheet Contacts" and entered a nickname for my coworker, Rama as "Super Duper Geek Guy":

Now, if I assign Rama to a task, I see his name as the nickname:

You can see that if I assign nicknames to multiple people, I can fill the cell with nicknames (even though Smartsheet still knows who they really are):

BUT, this doesn't just affect how I see them, it actually shows these nicknames to everyone in the company! And, even Smartsheet notifications show the nicknames:

So, if this sheet contains 100 rows, created by 100 different people, each with nicknames setup for Rama, he will show 100 different ways.

Here are the different things that can affect how someone appears in your contact column:

This causes the following problems:

  1. It makes it impossible to know who was actually assigned (unless you hover over each assignee and wait for the pop-up).
  2. Breaks all built-in Smartsheet functions that do things like: cross-sheet lookups to count "# tasks assigned", math in Profile sheets, etc.
  3. Breaks all API programming that tries to use contact fields for lookups and other functionality.

I have tried things like:

  1. Using the "helper columns" (as I mentioned above), but this does not work for multi-select contact columns.
  2. Using the "Restrict to list values only" column option, but this also does not work for multi-select contact columns (see my question here:
  3. Searched for a way to turn off the ability for users to use their "My Smartsheet Contacts" list, in the Admin Center (I am the account Admin). I couldn't find anything.
  4. Searched the API for a way to turn off the "My Smartsheet Contacts" (or at least force them all to be the same), but it only has two methods that only show what is in someone's personal contact list.
  5. Search the help documentation and this community forum.

Has anyone else encountered this and were you able to resolve it??? Any help is greatly appreciated!

Best Answer


  • Humashankar
    Humashankar ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @mzpjames

    While you have tried so many ways for this use case and it is really great to see the detailing you offered and it's a delight to go through your efforts.

    Would you wish to try the below option for this -

    By modifying the Permissions and Sharing Settings in the Admin Center, you can control access to "My Smartsheet Contacts" for specific user types.


    By setting the permission to "No Access" or "Read-Only", you can effectively disable or limit the use of "My Smartsheet Contacts" for the selected user type. This is one of the way to manage access to this feature.

    ·      In the Permissions section

    ·      Set the permission to “No Access” or “Read-Only” as needed


    Hope this helps - Happy to help further!!

    Thank you very much and have a great one!

    Warm regards


    Community Leader

  • mzpjames
    mzpjames ✭✭✭

    Hi Huma,

    I appreciate your answer and the solution sounds very straightforward, however, I am unable to find "Permissions and Sharing Settings" in the Admin Center.

    I am a System Admin:

    However, I do not see options that match what you said to look for:

    I did go through every one of these menus/options and could not find anything related to the use of "My Smartsheet Contacts" (even in Group Management or User Management). The closest item in the menu is "Security Controls", but I've been through all the options there and could not find it either:

    I didn't even find any results, doing a Google search:

    I am feeling a bit obtuse at this point :) Would you be so kind as to include a screenshot or more precise directions to access the "Permissions and Sharing Settings in the Admin Center"?

    Thank You!


  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin
    Answer ✓

    Hi @mzpjames

    I believe @Humashankar may have attempted to use an AI generated answer which provided incorrect information.

    There currently isn't a way to turn off the ability for members to add nicknames on Contact values in their sheets as an organization setting.

    Please submit your feature request to the Product team by creating an Idea Post in the Smartsheet Product Feedback and Ideas topic here in the Community.



  • mzpjames
    mzpjames ✭✭✭
    edited 04/08/24

    Hi Genevieve,

    Okay, at least I am not completely dense and you are smarter than AI :)

    As a workaround, since you answered the other question I posted (about restricting a Contact list), I will restrict this list to allowable values, and fill that list automatically using DataShuttle (so it is kept up-to-date).

    Thank you once again!