What is the difference between "My Smartsheet Contacts" and unlicensed users on "User Management"?

Hi, I have been adding team members onto my projects via the "Contact List" in my "Assigned To" column and can see them in my "My Smartsheet contacts". However, I was then reading that I could add unlicensed "Users" via "User Management" and noticed that my Smartsheet contacts aren't there. Do I need to add them to both the user management as well as contacts? What is the difference and benefit of one over the other?




  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin

    Hi @Teresa Suranyi

    Users in User Management

    If you are a System Admin for your organization, you can add specific Smartsheet Users to your Organization's Plan (either as Free members or Licensed users, see: Account-Level User Types for Multi-User Plans).

    This then allows you a little bit of control over their accounts as an Admin in the User Management section. For example: you can send them reset password links, add secondary emails to their account, export a list of sheets that email has access to, and even remove their sharing access to items (see: Manage Users in a Multi-User Plan).

    You can set specific security measures for users who are a part of your plan, such as limiting attachment types or publishing options (see: Admin Center: Manage Security & Controls).

    Additionally, users who are added as members of your plan can be tracked as resources in Resource Management, if you have this enabled on your Project Sheets (see: Resource Management and Allocation).

    My Contacts & Contacts in a Contact Column

    Users in your plan are automatically added as Contacts. However, if you wanted to collaborate with users from other organizations, or even people that don't have a Smartsheet account, you can add these emails as your "My Contacts" (see: Manage Contacts in the My Smartsheet Contacts List)

    These are contacts you can put in a Contact Column to send automated emails to, or share sheets, etc. You can create a Contact Group out of these emails if you want to quickly share items to a group of people without specifying individuals (see: Manage and Use Smartsheet Contact Groups).

    However you have no ability to edit or manage their account. Does that make sense?

    Let me know if I can clarify anything further for you!



  • dizzy_brain
    dizzy_brain ✭✭✭

    I had exactly the same question which was partially answered by the above. However I noticed that, despite what you say, my smartsheet "users" do not automatically get added to my smartsheet "contacts". I have added many more users recently, but my contacts list still has only a handful of them whom I added in the past (when I didn't realise the difference between users and contacts). Is this a bug? It would be very helpful if users would be added as contacts automatically, and then one can add some more contacts who could be external people that one just want to be able to send emails or share sheets etc. Thanks,

  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin

    Hi @dizzy_brain

    These new added users should show up in a contact column list (e.g. when you start typing a name in a cell) as well as an option to share a sheet, or send alerts, etc. However they won't appear in your "My Contacts" list since those are separate emails that you've manually added (versus contacts who are a part of your plan). Does that make sense?

    Are you typing a name in a cell and the new added user does not show up?

  • dizzy_brain
    dizzy_brain ✭✭✭

    Hm, this is an example of why, as a new user, im finding Smartsheet too complex/confusing. So there is 'my contacts' list which only has contacts that I have added manually, irrespective if they are also users or not, then there is a separate list of users, but they are both actually contacts, in an invisible contacts list... Thanks anyway! 😅

  • I found this post seeking best practices for managing contacts and users. This seems to be a fairly common issue. I'd be interested to know Smartsheet's recommendation for managing the different user types in the most efficient way possible. It might make a good article for newcomers, so they can avoid user confusion in the first place.

    Josh Garcia|[email protected]

    Zebra Consulting Services🦓ZebraCS.com

  • Stu Benoff
    Stu Benoff ✭✭✭✭

    In my view, as a System Admin, My Smartsheet Contacts is one of the best and one of the worst Smartsheet features. It's the best because it makes it very easy for users to share sheets with anyone, without requesting a license from the System Admin, so it's a great/easy feature for collaborating. It's the worst feature because Smartsheet does not provide any tools for managing this population. Take the case where the user creates and shares access to Collaborator A. 6 months goes by and Collaborator A is no longer working with the user. Who and how does Collaborator A's access get terminated? What tools or reports does Smartsheet provide for managing this? Answer = NONE. The best/only way that I have found is to run a sheet access report (which Smartsheet is flirting with terminating) and compare all of the user permissions on this report to the User List report. This helps me separate licensed/non-licensed users from Smartsheet Contacts. Now that I have the contacts list - what do I do with it? I have no way of knowing who created/sourced that contact I can only tell what they have access to. Am I then supposed to reach out to tens/hundreds of people to find out if the contact is still active? Not practical with our volume. Smartsheet is considered a "risky" tool in our environment because not only do they allow this type of "bad" behavior but then they don't provide any tools or features for managing it. Like, how about an automated email process to owners reminding them of the "sharing rights" that have been created on their objects? Remember, Editor - with share access could have distributed their objects anywhere. Who should monitor or police these access controls? As a System Admin, I can't possibly do this across the enterprise so I think it needs to be the owner (soon to be creator) and, again, Smartsheet provides zero tools/features for them to be able to do that. If I had the option to turn off the ability to create Smartsheet Contacts I would 100% do it.