Bulk modify work items

When you want to change one or more fields in several work items, you can bulk modify. For example, you might want to change the priority of several bugs or reassign several tasks to the same team member.

Use Team Web Access (TWA) to quickly modify one or more fields that will all contain the same value. Use Excel to update multiple fields with different values. If you already work in Microsoft Project, then you can use it to perform bulk updates.

Query and select work items

From the Query results page, select the work items you want to modify.

Select the work items you want to modify

You can craft your query using the query editor or search box.

Reassign work items of edit one or more fields

With work items selected, open the context menu for any selected item, and reassign all of them. By doing this, you can quickly assign them to a member of your team or to another sprint or iteration.

Assign to link from work item context menu

Or, edit all the selected work items at one time. Enter a value for each field that you want to update.

Bulk modify (TWA)

For audit purposes, you can type a description for your bulk update task.

Save all work items that you bulk-modified.

Bulk modify save results (TWA)

Work items shown in bold text indicate that local changes have not yet been saved to the TFS data store.

Clone or copy a work item

You can’t change the work item type of an existing work item. However, you can clone an existing work item and specify a new type. Open the work item you want to change, copy it—including all links—and choose the work item type you want.

Copy work item dialogue

The cloned work item is automatically linked to the original work item through a Related link type.


If you clone a work item and change its type to task, the cloned task may not appear on the sprint backlog until you have linked it to a parent backlog item or user story.

If you have a large number of work items whose type you want to change, you can export them using Excel, copy them to a new Excel list, and reimport them by specifying a different work item type. See Bulk add or modify work items with Excel.

Q & A

Q: How do I bulk modify the backlog?

A: From the backlog page in web access, use Create Query to create a query with the backlog items. Then, open the query in Excel to bulk modify the backlog. To change priorities, you can use the Backlog Priorities or Stack Rank fields.

A: You can use the following clients to bulk edit links:

  • Use Excel to edit parent-child or hierarchical links.

  • Use Project to edit parent-child and predecessor-successor link relationships.

  • Using TWA, you can map backlog items to portfolio backlog items which creates parent-child links.

  • Using Team Explorer, you can drag items in a tree query to create or modify parent-child links.

Q: How do I add multiple values to a field?

A: If you have implemented a custom control that supports multiple values, you can use Excel to bulk edit the field, but not web access. In web access, you can only select a single value for the field.

Q: Can I delete work items from TFS?

A: Yes. Use witadmin destroywi to permanently remove work items from the database.

Q: How do I add fields or customize a work item type?

A: See Modify or add a custom work item type (WIT).

Q: Do you want to refine your search parameters?

A: Review the following topics to learn more: