Bulk modify work items

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

Use bulk modify when you need to quickly make the same change to a number of work items. For example, you might want to change the priority of several bugs or reassign several tasks to the same team member. Use the web portal to quickly modify one or more fields for work items that will contain the same value.

Tip

To add work items in bulk or update multiple fields with different values, use Excel. You can't perform a bulk add of work items through the web portal.

With bulk modify, you can edit fields, add or remove tags, reassign work, or move work to a specific sprint. You can also use bulk modify to change the work item type or move work items to other projects. The options available to you depend on the platform you work from and the permissions you've been granted.

In this topic you'll learn:

  • How to multi-select work items from a list and open the context menu
  • Edit one or more fields of several work items
  • Assign work from a backlog to a sprint using drag-and-drop
  • Add or remove tags from several work items
  • How to multi-select work items from a list and open the context menu
  • Edit one or more fields of several work items
  • Assign work from a backlog to a sprint using drag-and-drop

All of the following actions can be performed by team members that belong to the Contributors group. Members provided with Stakeholder access can perform multi-select, bulk edit, change type, email, and copy as HTML/copy to clipboard actions. For details, see Work as a stakeholder.

Notes:

  1. You can't perform certain functions on work items whose WITs belong to the Hidden Types Category. This includes all work items that track tests—such as test cases, shared steps, and shared parameters—code review requests and responses, and feedback requests and responses.
  2. You can choose to copy or clone a single work item from a query results list or from the Actions menu of the work item form. You can only perform a clone or copy action for a single work item. Choose Copy work item when you want to create a copy of a work item and change its work item type. Choose Clone when you want to create another instance of the work item without changes to its work item type.
  3. You must be a member of the Project Administrators group or be granted explicit permissions to move work items.

Notes:

  1. You can't perform certain functions on work items whose WITs belong to the Hidden Types Category. This includes all work items that track tests—such as test cases, shared steps, and shared parameters—code review requests and responses, and feedback requests and responses.
  2. You can choose to copy or clone a single work item from a query results list or from the Actions menu of the work item form. You can only perform a clone or copy action for a single work item. Choose Copy work item when you want to create a copy of a work item and change its work item type. Choose Clone when you want to create another instance of the work item without changes to its work item type.
  3. For on-premises TFS, you must have an SMTP server configured for your deployment.

Notes:

  1. You can't perform certain functions on work items whose WITs belong to the Hidden Types Category. This includes all work items that track tests—such as test cases, shared steps, and shared parameters—code review requests and responses, and feedback requests and responses.
  2. You can choose to copy or clone a single work item from a query results list or from the Actions menu of the work item form. You can only perform a clone or copy action for a single work item. Choose Copy work item when you want to create a copy of a work item and change its work item type. Choose Clone when you want to create another instance of the work item without changes to its work item type.
  3. For on-premises TFS, you must have an SMTP server configured for your deployment.

Prerequisites

  • You must be a member of the Contributors group or be granted Stakeholder access to add, modify, or remove work items
  • Or, you must have your View work items in this node, and your Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow.

To learn more, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.


Bulk edit multi-selected work items

To start a bulk edit, begin by multi-selecting the work items you want to modify, either from the query results or the backlog. You can craft your query using the query editor or search box.

Multi-select of work items on the backlog and sprint backlogs works in the same way as multi-select works within query results.

(Requires TFS 2015.1 or later versions)

You can use bulk modify by selecting work items from the backlog page or query results list. From the backlog page context menu, you can change the backlog priority of several items (Change position or Move to position), assign them to a team member, move them to a different sprint, or map them to a feature.

The menu options available to you change depending on the platform you work from and whether you work from a backlog page or query results list.

Backlog menu

Backlog multi-select menu

Query results multi-select menu

Query results multi-select menu

Backlog multi-select menu

Query results multi-select menu

Query results multi-select menu

Query results multi-select menu, TFS-2015

Backlog multi-select menu

Backlog multi-select menu, TFS 2015

Query results multi-select menu

Query results multi-select menu, TFS 2015

To multi-select and open the context menu

To select several items in a sequence, hold down the shift key. To select several non-sequential items, use the Ctrl key. Then, you can either drag the selected items to a new position within the backlog, to a different sprint.

To open the context menu, click (actions icon) or (context icon), and then choose the option from the menu.

Here, we use the context menu to move several non-sequential items to the current sprint.

VSTS, Backlog page, multi-select items, Open context menu, Move to iteration,

TFS 2015, web portal, Backlog page, multi-select items, Open context menu, Move to iteration,

Tip

Use the backlog Create Query feature to create a query with the backlog items. You can then open the query within the web portal or Excel to perform bulk updates.

Reassign work items

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

To learn more about the Assign To and Iteration Path fields, see Query by assignment, workflow or Kanban board changes and Query by area or iteration path.

Edit one or more fields

To assign or modify several fields, choose Edit from the context menu of one of the selected work items. Enter a value for each field that you want to update.

  1. For audit purposes, you can type a description for your bulk update task. To learn more about each field, see the Work item field index.

    VSTS and TFS 2017, Query results page, bulk edit fields

  2. From the Query results page, you must save all work items that you bulk-modified. When you bulk modify items from the backlog, they are automatically saved. Work items shown in bold text indicate that local changes have not yet been saved to the data store.

    VSTS and TFS 2017, Query results page, save bulk modified items

  1. For audit purposes, you can type a description for your bulk update task. To learn more about each field, see the Work item field index.

    TFS 2015, web portal, Query results page, Edit work items dialog, bulk modify fields

  2. Save all work items that you bulk-modified. Work items shown in bold text indicate that local changes have not yet been saved to the data store.

    TFS 2015, web portal, query results page, Bulk modify save results

Move work items to a sprint from any backlog or board

From any backlog, you can drag a multi-selected list of work items and drop it onto a sprint to change it's iteration path. From a Kanban or task board, you can drag a single work item onto a sprint.

Drop work items onto a sprint

Child items of the work items whose iteration path you change are also updated with the new iteration path.

This feature requires TFS 2015.1 or later version.

Bulk modify tags

From the Edit work items dialog, select Tags (Add) or Tags (Remove).

Here we choose to add the Beta tag to the selected work items.

Edit work items - Add tags

Bulk update of work items to add or remove tags from the web portal requires TFS 2015.2 or later version. To bulk edit work items when connecting to TFS 2015.1 or earlier versions, use Excel.

To add fields or customize a work item form, see Customize your work tracking experience. The method you use depends on the process model that supports your project.

Migrate or change a large number of work items

For large scale, organizational moves, use the REST API calls for Work item batch operations.

At this time, you can't move work items to a different organization or collection. You can only migrate work item information by exporting and then importing them using Excel.

Add multiple values to a field

If you have implemented a custom control that supports multiple values, you can use Excel to bulk edit the field, but you can't modify it using the web portal. In the web portal, you can only select a single value for the field.