Ghost workflow – SharePoint


I have 2 lists with names ListA and ListB.

ListB made from a list template of ListA (that is from .stp file).  While taking ListA template backup, ListA has a workflow attached with it.

The associated workflow with ListA will copy an item from ListA to ListB on a specific condition.

When we run the workflow attached with ListA it copies the item perfectly from ListA to ListB. But the problem is its triggering the same workflow in the copied item in ListB.

As per logic the workflow is associated only with ListA and it should not trigger the same workflow when an item copied to ListB


Root Cause: ListB made from a list template of ListA

If this is the case this can cause ghost workflows. Unfortunately, list templates handle workflows very badly. In my experience, it only half saves the workflow, resulting in a ‘ghost’ workflow on the destination list that is difficult to manage. For example, if the workflow is set to run automatically, it will run however there will be no mention of it in the list of workflows, so you will be unable to remove it.

This is the behavior with both SharePoint Designer created workflows and Nintex created workflows because our workflows are architecturally the same as those from SharePoint Designer.

To remove a ghost workflow from the list completely:

  • Open the library or list the workflow exists on
  • Choose the ‘Settings’ menu and select ‘Document Library Settings’ / ‘List Settings’
  • Choose ‘Workflow settings’ under the ‘Permissions and Management’ group
  • You will see a list of all the previously published versions of the workflow. Select ‘Remove a workflow’ downs the bottom.
  • Select the Remove option next to all Nintex workflows and versions.





About Joseph Velliah
As a SharePoint Developer my professional interests tend to be technical and SharePoint focused. I run a blog at "SP RIDER" where you can expect to read HOW TOs and scenarios that I run into during my day to day job. I hope my posts will give back a little to the community that is helped me.

2 Responses to Ghost workflow – SharePoint

  1. Thank you for this article! It helped me a lot.

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