Remove or delete work items

Azure DevOps Services | Azure DevOps Server 2019 | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

You can remove work items added to your backlog or taskboard that aren't relevant anymore. Simply change the State to Remove, or delete the work item. You can perform operations on individual work items or bulk modify several work items.

Important

To view the content available for your platform, make sure that you select the correct version of this article from the version selector which is located above the table of contents. Feature support differs depending on whether you are working from Azure DevOps Services or an on-premises version of Azure DevOps Server, renamed from Team Foundation Server (TFS).

To learn which on-premises version you are using, see What platform/version am I using?

In this article you'll learn:

  • How to remove work items from the backlog by changing the State to Removed
  • How to delete work items
  • How to restore or permanently delete work items (web portal)
  • How to permanently delete work items (command-line tool)
  • What permissions are required to delete work items
  • How to remove work items from the backlog by changing the State to Removed
  • How to permanently delete work items (command-line tool)
  • What permissions are required to delete work items

You only have access to those actions that are supported on your platform and for which you have permissions. If you are a member of the Contributors group (anyone who has been added as a team member) or Project Administrators groups, you have access to the following features. For a simplified view of permissions assigned to built-in groups, see Permissions and access.

You can access the following actions for which you have permissions. If you are a member of the Contributors group (anyone who has been added as a team member) or Project Administrators groups, you have access to the following features. For a simplified view of permissions assigned to built-in groups, see Permissions and access.

Tip

From the web portal, you can multi-select several work items from a backlog or query results page and perform a bulk update using the associated feature. To delete, or restore several work items at the same time, see Bulk modify work items.

Prerequisites

  • You must connect to a project. If you don't have a project yet, create one.
  • You must be added to a project as a member of the Contributors or Project Administrators security group. To get added, Add users to a project or team.
  • To modify work items, you must have your View work items in this node and Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. To learn more, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.
  • To delete or remove work items, you must be granted Stakeholder access or higher For details, see About access levels.
  • To delete work items, you must be a member of the Project Administrators group or have the Delete work items in this project permission set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has Delete and restore work items set to Allow.

Note

Users with Stakeholder access for a public project have full access to all work tracking features just like users with Basic access. For details, see About access levels.

  • You must connect to a project. If you don't have a project yet, create one.
  • You must be added to a project as a member of the Contributors or Project Administrators security group. To get added, Add users to a project or team.
  • To modify work items, you must have your View work items in this node and Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. To learn more, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.
  • To remove or delete work items, you must be granted Stakeholder access or higher. For details, see About access levels.
  • To delete work items, you must be a member of the Project Administrators group or have the Delete work items in this project permission set to Allow. The Contributors group has Delete and restore work items at the project-level set to Allow by default.
  • You must connect to a project. If you don't have a project yet, create one.
  • You must be added to a project as a member of the Contributors or Project Administrators security group. To get added, Add users to a project or team.
  • To modify work items, you must have your View work items in this node and Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. To learn more, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.
  • To delete or remove work items, you must be granted Stakeholder access or higher. For details, see About access levels.
  • To delete work items, you must be a member of the Project Administrators group or have the **Delete work items in this project permission set to **Allow. By default, for TFS 2015.1 and earlier versions, the Contributors group has Delete work items in this project set to Not set. This setting causes the Contributors group to inherit the value from the closest parent that has it explicitly set.

To learn more, see Set permissions and access for work tracking or Set permissions at the project-level or project collection-level.

Remove work items

By changing the State of a work item to Removed, you effectively remove it from a backlog or board view (product, portfolio, and sprint backlogs, Kanban board, and taskboards).

Change State to Removed

To cause removed items to not show up in queries, you must add a clause that filters on the State field.

Note

The Removed state isn't supported with the Basic process. It is only supported with the Agile, Scrum, and CMMI process work item types. The Basic process is available when you add a project to Azure DevOps Services or Azure DevOps Server 2019 Update 1.

Delete work items

Deleted work items won't appear in your backlogs, boards, or queries. Deleted items are moved to a Recycle bin from which you can recover them if needed. To delete a test case, test plan, or test suite, or other test-related work item types, see Delete test artifacts.

Note

To permanently delete work items, you must be a member of the Project Administrators group or have the Delete work items in this project permission set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has Delete and restore work items set to Allow.

  1. You can delete a work item from within the work item form, by multi-selecting work items from a backlog or query results page, or from a Kanban board or taskboard.

    To delete a single work item, open the work item, choose the  actions icon and select Delete.

    work item form, actions menu, Delete
    To delete several work items, multi-select them from a backlog or a query results list and then choose the  actions icon and select Delete.

    List of work items, actions menu, Delete

    To delete a work item from your Kanban or taskboard, choose the  actions icon of the card and select Delete.

    Delete work item from Kanban board

  2. Confirm you want to actually delete the item(s).

    Confirm delete dialog

Note

The Delete and Recycle bin features are available from TFS 2015.2 and later versions.

  1. You can delete a work item from within the work item form, or by multi-selecting work items from a backlog or query results page.

    To delete a single work item, open the work item, choose the  actions icon and select Delete.

    work item form, actions menu, Delete

    To delete several work items, multi-select them from a backlog or a query results list and then choose the  actions icon and select Delete.

    List of work items, actions menu, Delete

    You can also delete work items from your Kanban or taskboard.

    Delete work item from Kanban board

    Or, you can drag them to the Recycle bin (Recycle bin). You can only access the (Recycle bin) from the Work hub.

  2. Confirm you want to actually delete the item(s).

    Confirm delete dialog

    Note

    The Delete work items confirmation dialog for on-premises Azure DevOps may indicate there are auto-delete settings (disabled). There are no settings you can enable or disable. There is only a background process which permanently deletes work items that have been set to delete.

Note

The Delete and Recycle bin features are available from TFS 2015.2 and later versions. The Delete option isn't available for TFS 2013. You can only delete work items from the witadmin destroywi command.

Restore or permanently delete work items

You restore deleted work items from the web portal Recycle bin.

  1. Choose Boards>Work Items and then choose the Recycle bin.

    Boards>Work Items page, Open Recycle bin

    A new browser tab opens with the query which lists work items added to the Recycle bin.

  2. Select the items you want to restore and then choose Restore.

    Restore selected items

    Note

    You can't open work items that have been moved to the Recycle bin.

    Optionally, you can choose to permanently delete the items.

    Note

    You'll only see the Permanently delete option if your Permanently delete work items permission is set to Allow.

  3. Confirm your selection.

Restore or permanently delete work items

You restore deleted work items from the web portal Recycle bin.

Note

The Delete and Recycle bin features require TFS 2015.2 or later version.

  1. Choose Work>Backlogs or Work>Queries and then choose the Recycle bin.

    Open Recycle bin

    A new browser tab opens with the query which lists work items added to the Recycle bin.

  2. Select the items you want to restore and then choose Restore.

    Restore selected items

    Optionally, you can choose to permanently delete the items.

    Note

    You'll only see the Permanently delete option if your Permanently delete work items permission is set to Allow.

  3. Confirm your selection.

Permanently delete work items (command line)

To permanently delete work items from the web portal, you must be a member of the Project Administrators group or be granted explicit permissions to delete or restore work items.

Deleting work items from the command line is deprecated for TFS 2018.2 and later versions, and not supported for Azure Boards cloud service.

Use the witadmin destroywi command to permanently remove work items from the data store. A permanent delete means all information in the work tracking data store is deleted and cannot be restored nor reactivated. You must be a member of the Project Administrators group of have your Edit project-level information permission set to Allow.

  1. Open a Command Prompt window where the latest version of Visual Studio is installed and change the directory to where the witadmin.exe tool has been installed. For example, you would change to the following directory for TFS 2018. (For other versions, see Remove work items permanently (witadmin destroywi)).

    %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio\2018\Professional\Common7\IDE\CommonExtensions\Microsoft\TeamFoundation\Team Explorer

    On a 32-bit edition of Windows, replace %programfiles(x86)% with %programfiles%.

    The witadmin command-line tool installs with any version of Visual Studio or Team Explorer. You can access this tool by installing the free version of Visual Studio Community.

  2. To delete several work items, enter the server name and directory path to the collection. For example:

    witadmin destroywi /collection:http://TFSServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:12,15,23

    To delete a single work item, simply enter the ID as shown:

    witadmin destroywi /collection:http://TFSServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:2003

  1. Open a Command Prompt window where the latest version of Visual Studio is installed and change the directory to where the witadmin.exe tool has been installed. For example, you would change to the following directory for TFS 2017. (For other versions, see Remove work items permanently (witadmin destroywi)).

    %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Professional\Common7\IDE\CommonExtensions\Microsoft\TeamFoundation\Team Explorer

    On a 32-bit edition of Windows, replace %programfiles(x86)% with %programfiles%.

    The witadmin command-line tool installs with any version of Visual Studio or Team Explorer. You can access this tool by installing the free version of Visual Studio Community.

  2. To delete several work items, enter the server name and directory path to the collection. For example:

    witadmin destroywi /collection:http://TFSServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:12,15,23

    To delete a single work item, simply enter the ID as shown:

    witadmin destroywi /collection:http://TFSServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:2003

  1. Open a Command Prompt window where the latest version of Visual Studio is installed and change the directory to where the witadmin.exe tool has been installed. For example, you would change to the following directory for TFS 2015. (For other versions, see Remove work items permanently (witadmin destroywi)).

    cd %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Common7\IDE

    Note

    Required permissions: For TFS 2015.2 or later versions, you must have Permanently delete work items permission set to Allow. For TFS 2015.1 or earlier versions, you must be a member of the Project Administrators group of have Edit project-level information permissions set to Allow.

    On a 32-bit edition of Windows, replace %programfiles(x86)% with %programfiles%.

    The witadmin command-line tool installs with any version of Visual Studio or Team Explorer. You can access this tool by installing the free version of Visual Studio Community.

  2. To delete several work items, enter the server name and directory path to the collection. For example:

    witadmin destroywi /collection:http://TFSServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:12,15,23

    To delete a single work item, simply enter the ID as shown:

    witadmin destroywi /collection:http://TFSServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:2003

  1. Open a Command Prompt window where the latest version of Visual Studio is installed and change the directory to where the witadmin.exe tool has been installed. For example, you would change to the following directory for TFS 2013. (For other versions, see Remove work items permanently (witadmin destroywi)).

    cd %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Common7\IDE

    On a 32-bit edition of Windows, replace %programfiles(x86)% with %programfiles%.

    The witadmin command-line tool installs with any version of Visual Studio or Team Explorer. You can access this tool by installing the free version of Visual Studio Community.

  2. To delete several work items, enter the server name and directory path to the collection. For example:

    witadmin destroywi /collection:http://TFSServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:12,15,23

    To delete a single work item, simply enter the ID as shown:

    witadmin destroywi /collection:http://TFSServerName:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:2003

Delete and restore actions performed under the hood

Delete work items

When you delete a work item, the following actions occur:

  • Generates a new revision of the work item
  • Updates the Changed By/Changed Date fields to support traceability
  • Preserves the work item completely, including all field assignments, attachments, tags, and links
  • Causes work item to become non-queryable and therefore can't appear in any work tracking experience, query result, or report
  • Updates charts accordingly, CFD, velocity, burndown and lightweight charts are updated to remove deleted work items
  • Removes WIT extensions
  • Preserves trend data except for the latest value
  • Removes the work item from the data warehouse/cube similar to as if it was permanently removed.

Restore work items

When you restore a work item, the following actions occur:

  • Causes a new revision of the work item to be made
  • Updates the Changed By/Changed Date fields to support traceability
  • Becomes queryable
  • All fields remain unchanged
  • History contains 2 new revisions, one for deletion, and one for restore
  • Reattaches WIT extensions
  • Updates charts accordingly, CFD, velocity, burndown and lightweight charts are updated to include the restored work items
  • Restores trend data
  • Adds the work item back to the data warehouse/cube similar
  • Sets the area or iteration path fields to the root node if the previous area path or iteration paths were deleted.