- 23 Aug 2023
- 16 Minutes to read
Getting started with Airtable Automations
- Updated on 23 Aug 2023
- 16 Minutes to read
Learn how the Airtable Automations feature allows you to configure custom trigger-action workflows directly within an Airtable base. Automations help you and your team save time by automating repetitive tasks, increasing communication efficiency, and reducing the overall margin of error. This article covers the high-level points to get you building automations.
|Plan availability||All plan types with varying limitations|
|Platform(s)||Web/Browser, Mac app, and Windows app|
|Try it in Airtable||Create an automation|
The Airtable Automations feature allows you and your organization to save time and energy on redundant tasks, communications, and connections with other tools. By only having to set up and maintain automations every once in a while over time you can accomplish what used to take hours of coding, testing, and implementing in just minutes, with or without the aid of customized coding. Here are a few general points to get you started on your journey with Airtable Automations:
- Automations are scoped to individual bases and can be found near the top left section in a base on desktop/browser versions of Airtable.
- Automations on our iOS and Android apps are unavailable.
- We cover best practice tips, basic automation setup in another article, and FAQs below.
- If you’d like, you can add up to 50 automations to a base. It's important to note that automations that are turned off (inactive) still count against this limit of 50 automations.
- Additionally, you can create up to 25 actions in one automation. Adding up to 25 actions in one automation may help if you find yourself getting close to the total limit of 50 automations. Where applicable, an action can use outputs from previous actions in the same automation.
Automation run limits are reset on the first day of each month.
|Workspace Plan||Automation runs (per month, per workspace)||Automation run history||Notes|
|Enterprise Scale||500,000 1||3 years|
|Business||100,000 1||1 year|
|Team||25,000 1||6 months|
|Free||100 1||2 weeks|
1 Our system counts an automation “run” each time a trigger is invoked. This means that both failed and successful automation attempts will count against a workspace’s monthly run allowance.
Existing records in your base will not trigger a run for a newly created automation. Only after you've turned your automation on, will any new record or adjusted record that meets the configured trigger condition cause the automation to run. For making big updates to multiple existing records in your base we recommend checking out the Batch update extension.
- When a record enters a view (Note: records that leave and re-enter a view will trigger again)
- When a record is created
- When a record is updated
- When a record matches a condition
- When a form is submitted
- At a scheduled time automation trigger
- When a webhook is received trigger
- When a button is clicked
- Google Workspace triggers
- Outlook automation triggers
- Create record
- Update record
- Run a script (* Unavailable on Free plan workspaces)
- Send an email
- Find records
- Slack account message actions
- Google Workspace actions
- Document automator actions
- Send a Microsoft Teams message
- Outlook actions
- Jira Cloud automation actions
- Jira Server / Data Center automation actions
- Salesforce automation actions
- Create post action for Facebook Pages
- GitHub automation actions
- Twilio: Send SMS
- Hootsuite: Schedule post
Basic automation configuration walkthrough
To start creating an automation, from the open base of your choice click on Automations in the upper left corner of your screen to open the automation configuration window. You can then start with our curated list of pre-built, suggested automation or create a custom automation from scratch.
We've created automation templates to create a simplified, guided process for installing and deploying common automations. Select from any of our available templates to get started - you can still customize each trigger and action within the template.
Create a custom automation
If you'd prefer to create an automation from scratch, select “Create a custom automation” to begin the setup process. You can rename the automation right away to make it easier to understand what it does.
All automations start with a trigger that will prompt subsequent actions. So next, you will need to click + Add trigger. Once clicked, the available triggers will display for you to choose from.
Click here to learn more about all available automation triggers.
Most of the trigger types correspond to certain base actions, so you will select a preferred table for this automation's trigger. However, there are a few exceptions:
- If you choose the When record enters a view trigger, then you will also need to choose a specific view. Preferably, this view would be one you created specifically for this automation.
- If you choose the At a scheduled time trigger, then you will set up some type of datetime interval logic that will determine when the automation is triggered.
- If you chose the When webhook received trigger, then you will have different trigger setup steps outlined in this article.
- The When a button is clicked trigger relates to a button in our interface feature outlined here.
- Finally, integrated automation triggers, such as Google Workspace triggers, have entirely different setup steps determined by the tool that you are wanting to integrate with.
If you picked the wrong trigger by accident or would like to try another trigger type for your automation, then you can change your trigger type by choosing another option from the Trigger type dropdown.
Choose Test this step to fetch a test record and its values. You can choose to allow our system to automatically find a record to test that has the matching conditions by clicking Use suggested record or you can manually choose a record by clicking Choose record.
This testing is required. Do not skip this step!
When the test is complete, the results will be displayed including the values for the test record that triggered the automation. If you run into an issue during the testing process, then our Automation troubleshooting article may help.
An automation won't trigger for records that already match the conditions at the time the automation was created. For those records to trigger an automation they will need to change states in order to momentarily not match the trigger conditions and then be changed back to match the conditions again.
For example, if an automation is triggered by a checkbox field being checked, then that record would need to be unchecked, then rechecked when the automation is on in order for it to trigger the automation to run.
You can think of a test as a snapshot of the way the information in the base looked when the testing step occurred. If you make changes to the base or the test record being used, then you'll want to test again in order to match the base's current state. To view the values of the record, you can look in the Results section for the full details.
When you have successfully tested the trigger, click on + Add action.
Once clicked, the available actions will display for you to choose from.
Click here to learn more about all available automation actions.
Choosing an action will bring up different configuration options depending upon the type of action you choose. Let's take the Send an email automation action for example. After choosing this action, you will initially be able to add recipients, a subject line, and the message body.
The text in the body of the message can be a mix of static text and values from the triggering record. You can click the blue and white plus sign to dynamically add values in from the triggering record.
By clicking on the Show more options dropdown, you will have the ability to customize four additional parts of the automatic email you send out, which includes CC, BCC, From name, and Reply to.
This is just one brief example of the power of Airtable Automations. There is also the ability to add conditonal logic to your automations which will allow for different sets of actions to be run depending upon sets of specified conditions. More information about that feature is available here.
Test the step to make sure it is successful. Again, testing each step of the automation process ensures that your automation will work as expected. Finding more information about a particular action's test is a similar process to the trigger test mentioned earlier. Click on the drop-down menu next to the test result to view the values being pulled from any records attached to your automation.
You may realize during testing that you need to make a change in the table by adding or modifying fields. If you do that, be sure to retest all of the steps so that your changes are correctly reflected in the configuration of the automation.
After successfully testing the action, you can move on to turning on your automation!
Choosing test records is not available for any action steps in Automations. However, retesting and choosing a new test record in the trigger step will typically cause a different test record to appear in later action steps.
Once you have completed testing the automation's trigger and action steps, it's likely time to turn the automation on. At this point, it's a good idea to let other base creators and end users/colleagues know about the automation, especially those who may need to know about process changes or how the automation might personally affect them. To turn an automation on, toggle the option next to the name of the automation from OFF to ON. Once the toggle shows the green ON state, any future conditions that match the trigger set in the steps above will now trigger an automation run. To turn an automation OFF, simply toggle the same button to that state.
You can edit an automation's description from that particular automation's comnfiguration window. The description of the automation will default to highlight the trigger and action steps you've chosen to use. To customize this description:
- Click the Automations option on the top left portion of the screen from an open base to open the configuration window
- Choose the automation you would like to add a new description to
- Click on the drop-down and choose the Edit description option. You can also double-click on the description to edit it.
The base ID (appXXXXXXXXXXXXXX) will appear at the start of the URL path. This coincides with the inclusion of base IDs in Airtable URLs throughout the rest of the product. This record URL format will occur in these places:
- The url property of a record output by a trigger/action.
- The url property of a Table or View model retrieved by the Run Script action.
Tips to ensure proper setup
Consider locking the view and adding a note that editing the view filtering conditions could cause unintended automations to run.
Consider when you want the record trigger and subsequent action to occur. Is it when a record is created, a status is changed or when all fields in a record have been populated and the record is considered 'complete'? Some ideas include:
- A status field changed to 'Ready to send email' or other appropriate phrase for the particular action.
- A 'Created On' field using the created time field type. Set the view filtering conditions to only include records before today. This will create a delay on when records are sent.
- Use a form. By only using a form to create new records, all fields are added simultaneously upon submission. Ideal for automations that trigger when a record is created.
- For a simple way to mark a record as complete, add a checkbox field.
To turn an automation on, all trigger and action steps must test successfully. In trigger steps, a test record is chosen during the setup process. At least one record will need to match all of the parameters set in the automation to allow our system to find a test record for you to choose.
The following triggers currently will not allow you to choose the test data. Below, you'll see the expected way Airtable retrieves test data from these trigger sources:
- One exception to this rule is the Find records action. Since that action's output is dependent upon the values set in the configuration process, results will vary.
- New response Google Form trigger - Last response/row in the sheet the response is sent to.
- Outlook Calendar: When an event is created trigger - The most recent event that has been created in the calendar you've chosen.
- Outlook Calendar: When an event is changed trigger - The most recent event that has been created in the calendar you've chosen.
- Outlook Email: When email is received trigger - The last email received in the inbox folder you've selected.
Manually determining a test record
Determining a test record can be extremely helpful in troubleshooting automations. When a trigger has tested successfully a dropdown menu will appear to view more details about the test record used.
You can click on the blue hyperlink next to "Airtable record ID" to open the record within the Automations window as an expanded record. This will allow you to adjust the record in a way that may help to fix errors in your automation.
Consider using the RECORD_ID() function
The functionality above should work most of the time, but it's worth noting that you can also find the test record via its Record ID. You'll need to create a new formula field that will show each
RECORD_ID()in the table that your automation is looking at. More information on that setup can be found in the Record ID article linked above. After the Record ID field has been created, you can pull the test record's ID from the automation setup window and then use the find feature to return the matching record. More on record IDs in the next section below.
Having a firm grasp of record IDs within Airtable can be very useful for Automations, especially when using the update record action.
If your base has any field or table editing permissions that restrict editing to only specific users, you can add permissions for automations to make changes using this toggle:
Check out our article about Automations troubleshooting if you are getting stuck, finding an error in your automation, or receiving failed run notifications.
Yes. Since automations are server-side, they will run even when nobody has the base open.
Automations can only be created or edited by users with "Creator" (or "Owner") permissions.
No, automations only run from when they're switched on forward. For example, if there is a conditional trigger set up to “when a field is not empty”, and then that automation is turned on, the automation will not run on previous records with a value in the specified field. Making it so a record does not meet the conditions and then meets them again will trigger the automation, however. Alternatively, you can use the Batch update extension to make the necessary changes to older records in your table.
That functionality is not available at this time.
Each billing plan has an associated automation run monthly limit. The only standard way to increase the limit is to move to a higher billing plan.
That functionality is not available at this time.
Yes, in some cases automations can be used alongside the two-way sync feature. You can find more info here.
Yes, they do work. They trigger about every 5 minutes while a base is loaded due to user interactivity, and once an hour otherwise.
These triggers fire as soon as the first few characters are typed by the user. We're aware that this isn't ideal, and it's on our radar to solve.
Comments on records are considered meta-data and can't trigger automations.
- Find Records: All matched records
- When a record matches condition: First matching record
- When a record is created: First record in the table/view
- When a record is updated: First record in the table/view
- When a record enters view: First record in the table/view
- Google sheets row created: Last row in the sheet
- New response Google Form trigger: Last response/row in the sheet the response is sent to
- Free - Yes, all recipients must be verified collaborators in the base where the automation resides.
- Team - Can email 100 unique non-collaborator email addresses a day.
- Business and Enterprise plans - No limit on the number of non-collaborators that you can email per day.
You can see your workspace's limit if you create a Send Email action on an automation.
Not directly in automations, but this is possible to do by utilizing a formula field in the manner described in this support article.
Unfortunately, no. You can use the Find records by view option to apply the same sort as is applied in the view, and you can choose if you want to truncate or not truncate long field values, but we don't provide customizability beyond that at the moment.