Review code with pull requests

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | VS 2017 | VS 2015

Create pull requests to review and merge code in a Git project. Pull requests let your team review code and give feedback on changes before merging it into the master branch. Pull requests can come from either topic branches within the same repository or from a branch in a fork of the original repository. Reviewers can step through the proposed changes, leave comments, and vote to approve or reject the code.

New to pull requests? Learn more about how to get feedback with Git pull requests.

Create a new pull request

Create a new pull request from:

After pushing a branch

When you publish or update a feature branch in your VSTS Git repo, you get a prompt asking if would like to create a pull request in the Code view on the web. This prompt is displayed on the Pull Requests tab and the Files tab.

Creating Pull Request through pushed branch in VSTS

Creating Pull Request through pushed branch in VSTS

Select the Create a pull request link to go to a page where you can enter your pull request details and create the pull request.

From a linked work item

Create a pull request directly from a work item linked to the branch.

  1. From the Backlogs or Queries tab in the Work view , open the work item with the linked branch.
  2. In the Development area of the work item, there's a link to create a pull request under the branch name.

Creating Pull Requests from the Development area of a Work Item with a Linked Branch

Select the link to go to a page where you can enter your pull request details and create the pull request.

From the Code view on the web

Create pull requests from any branch from the Pull Request tab in the Code view on the web.

New pull request

Select New pull request in the upper right to go to a page where you can enter your pull request details and create the pull request. Pick the branch you wish to have reviewed and the branch you want to merge the changes into, such as the master branch.

Choosing source and target branches for a pull request in VSTS

From Visual Studio

Initiate pull requests directly from Visual Studio.

  1. Connect to your Project from Visual Studio.
  2. Open Team Explorer (select View, then Team Explorer or use the Ctrl+\, Ctrl+M hotkey)
  3. Open Pull Requests in Team Explorer by selecting the Home icon and choosing Pull Requests.

    Pull Requests

  4. From the Pull Requests view you can view pull requests opened by you, assigned to you, and you can create new pull requests. Select New Pull Request to open up a web browser where you can create the new pull request in the VSTS web portal.

    Pull Requests

    You can also initiate pull requests from Visual Studio from the Branches view in Team Explorer by right-clicking the branch name and selecting Create pull request while connected to your VSTS Project.

    Pull Requests

From the VSTS CLI (Preview)

You can now manage pull requests and other resources in VSTS and Team Foundation Server 2017 Update 2 or later from the command line with the VSTS CLI.

For a list of commands to create and manage pull requests, see Manage pull requests.

For more information about working with the VSTS CLI, see Get started with the VSTS CLI.

Add detail to your pull request

Link work items and describe the changes in the branch to make it easier for others to see what problem you are trying to solve. Change the pull request title, add a detailed description, add reviewers, link work items, and make comments to explain your changes. When you're ready to create the pull request and have your changes reviewed, select Create.

Adding details to a new pull request

Don't worry if you don't have all of the work items, reviewers, or details ready when you create your pull request - you can add them now when you create the pull request, and you can also add or update all of these items later after you create the pull request.

Help reviewers using pull request labels

Sometimes it's important to communicate extra information about a pull request to the reviewers. Maybe the pull request is still a work in progress, or it's a hotfix for an upcoming release - so you append some extra text in the title, perhaps a "[WIP]" prefix or "DO NOT MERGE". Labels now provide a way to tag pull requests with extra information that can be used to communicate important details and help organize pull requests.

PR request labels

To add a label when creating a pull request, choose Add label. After a pull request is created you can manage labels in the Labels section.

Add pull request label

In a future release, we'll make labels even more useful by making it easier to filter pull requests using labels.

Add and remove reviewers

Add reviewers to your pull request.

  1. Select the Overview tab in the pull request.

    Pull request overview

  2. Select the add icon Add icon in pull requests in the Reviewers area.

  3. Enter the name of the user or group to add to the reviewer list for the pull request. If the user isn't a member of your Project, you'll need to add them.

  4. As you enter a name or email address, a list of matching users or groups appears. Select the user or group from the list to add them as a reviewer.

    Add pull request reviewer

Link work items to your pull request:

  1. Select the Overview tab in the pull request.

    Pull request overview

  2. Select the add icon Add icon in pull requests in the Work Items area.

  3. Enter the ID of the work item or search for work items with titles that match your text. Select the work item from the list that appears.

Remove work item links by selecting the remove icon that appears when you hover over the work item. This only removes the link between a work item to a pull request; links created in the branch or from commits stay in the work item.

Edit pull request title and description

Update the title of a pull request by clicking the current title and updating the text. Choose the save icon to save changes or select undo to discard your changes.

Editing details in an existing VSTS pull request

Edit the pull request description by selecting the edit link that appears when you hover over the existing description.

Editing pull request description

Keep these fields up to date so reviewers know what the changes in the pull request are trying to accomplish.

Manage your pull requests

Manage pull requests you own or are assigned to with the Pull Requests tab in the Code view on the web.

Select Active to show all active pull requests for the current repo.

Select Completed or Abandoned to bring up a history of closed pull requests.

Viewing completed and abandoned pull requests in VSTS

Review a pull request

The Overview tab shows the current state of the pull request at a glance. Review the title, description, and discussion to get an understanding of the proposed changes and see issues brought up by other reviewers.

Pull request overview

If you need to make a change to the code as part of your review, starting with Visual Studio 2017 Update 6 you can checkout the source branch from a pull request directly from the Pull Requests view in Team Explorer. Right-click the desired pull request and choose Checkout Source Branch.

Checkout source branch

Browse code changes

Select the Files tab to view the changes made to the source branch relative to the target branch of the pull request.


The size limit for files in the files view and the diff view is 5 MB. To view and diff files larger than 5 MB, you can download the file and view it using a local diff tool on your machine.

Pull request files

Review previous versions of the code pushed to the source branch of the pull request from the All updates drop-down. A new version is added to the list in the drop-down and on the Updates tab every time the branch is updated in VSTS.

The diff view updates as you select different changes, showing the differences between the files in the currently selected and previous version in the pull request. Catch up with a pull request after being away from it for awhile by stepping through changes made since your last review.

Pull request updates

Browse a list of changes by push from the author using the Updates tab.

Pull request updates

You can select and view changes made in commits on the branch in the Commits tab.

Pull request commits

Leave comments

Add comments to the pull request to make suggestions, reply to previous comments, and point out problems with the proposed changes. Comment inline in the Files tab in your pull request by selecting the comment icon (Comment icon in a pull request). Leave feedback not tied to a specific code change by commenting in the Overview tab. Reply directly to the author or other reviewers by using @username and reference work items using #workitemID in your comments. You can also reference other pull requests using !pullrequestID.

Reviewing comments in VSTS pull requests

Update comment status to let reviewers know what you are doing to address the concerns brought up in their review. New comments start in Active status and can be updated in the conversation using the Resolve and Reply & resolve buttons.

Reviewing comments in VSTS pull requests

Additional options are available in the comment resolution drop-down.

Reviewing comments in VSTS pull requests

  • Active: Comment is still under review.
  • Pending: The issue in this comment will be addressed, but isn't fixed yet.
  • Resolved: The issue brought up in this comment has been fixed.
  • Won't Fix: The suggestion in the comment is noted, but won't make changes in this pull request to address it.
  • Closed: Discussion for this comment is closed.

Vote on the changes

Vote on the changes in a pull request by choosing an option from the button on the upper right. The default option is Approve, but you can select other options from the drop-down:

Pull request voting options

  • Approve: Agree with the proposed changes in the pull request as-is.
  • Approve with suggestions: Agree with the pull request, but provide optional suggestions to improve the code.
  • Wait for author: Do not approve the changes, and ask the author to review your comments. The author should let you know when you should re-review the code after they have addressed your concerns.
  • Reject: The changes aren't acceptable. If you are voting this way, you should leave a comment in the pull request detailing why the changes were rejected.
  • Reset feedback: Choose Reset feedback to remove your vote.

The number of required approvals in a pull request can be set from the branch policy for the branch. Pull requests can be completed if the number of required approvals is met, even if other reviewers have rejected the changes. Votes in a pull request can optionally be reset when new code is pushed to the branch by checking Reset code reviewer votes when there are new changes when configuring the Require a minimum number of reviewers branch policy.

List of Pull Request voters in VSTS

Best practice: At least two reviewers should review and approve the changes in a significant pull request.

Update code in response to feedback

Update your code in response to comments by creating a new commit with the changes and pushing the updates to the branch in your VSTS repo. You can make quick updates to your branch directly from the Files tab in the Code view on the web.

Updating code directly during a pull request in VSTS

Complete the pull request

Complete your pull request after the reviewers approve of the changes by selecting Complete in the upper right of the pull request view.

Complete button on the pull request view with its drop-down options

  • Complete: Complete the pull request now and merge the changes to the target branch.
  • Set auto-complete: If you have branch policies, you can choose Set auto-complete to configure the pull request to close once all branch policies are met.
  • Abandon: Choose Abandon to close the pull request without merging the changes.

Enter the message used for the merge commit and update the pull request description as needed in the dialog that follows.

Complete pull request dialog

  • Check Complete linked work items after merging to complete any linked work items.
  • Check Delete <branch name> after merging to delete the source branch from the pull request.
  • Check Squash changes when merging to squash merge your pull request.
  • Check Override branch policies and enable merge to force merge even if all branch policies haven't been satisfied. This option is only available if you have Exempt from policy enforcement permissions.

Linked work items are also updated showing the pull request completion.

Linked Work Items showing completed pull requests

Complete automatically

Select Auto-complete from the Complete button drop-down to complete the pull request and merge the changes as soon as all branch policies are met. Auto-completion lets you skip having to come back to the pull request to complete it after the build finishes successfully and the reviewers approve the changes. When the conditions are satisfied for auto-complete, the pull request is completed and you are notified via email. If there is a conflict or an error completing the pull request, you will get an email notifying you of the issue so you can resolve it.

Once auto-complete has been set, the pull request displays a banner confirming that the changes will be merged as soon as the policies are satisfied. Select Cancel auto-complete to turn off auto-complete and return the pull request to an active state.

A banner displays when your pull request is in auto-complete state


The Auto-complete option is available in VSTS and TFS 2017 and higher, and is only present when you have branch policies that must be satisfied before the pull request can be completed. If you don't see Auto-complete, it is because you don't have any branch policies. For more information, see Branch policies.

Abandon your changes

Abandon pull requests when you decide the work in the feature branch should not be merged by selecting Abandon from the drop-down on the Complete button. The abandoned pull request will still be viewable on the web and stays linked to work items.

Reactivate an abandoned pull request at any time by selecting the pull request from the Abandoned tab in the Pull Request view and selecting Reactivate.

Receiving notification of pull request updates

Subscribe to email alerts to get notified when changes are made to your pull requests.


By default you are subscribed to several common pull request notifications. For a complete list of default notification subscriptions, see Out-of-the-box (OOB) or default subscriptions

  1. Select the settings icon while you have your project open to bring up the project administration page.

    open up the administrative area of the VSTS web portal for your project

  2. Select the Notifications tab to view your notification settings, and choose New subscription to subscribe to additional notifications.


  3. To edit or unsubscribe from a notification, select ... for the notification and choose View to edit the subscription, or Opt out to unsubscribe from the notification.


Revert a pull request

Undo the changes made in a pull request by opening the completed pull request and selecting Revert. When you revert a pull request in this way, you create a new branch with changes that will undo the pull request for an existing target branch in your repo.

In the dialog that appears, pick the branch where you want to undo the pull request changes in the Target branch selector and the name of a new branch where the reverted changes will be created in the Topic branch name field, then select Revert. Select Create pull request to merge the newly created branch in a second pull request to complete the revert.


The branch created during this revert has a single commit that reverts the file changes in the pull request. The branch does not contain a reverted commit for each of the commits merged in the original pull request.

Cherry-pick a pull request

Copy changes made in a pull request to another branch in your repo by selecting Cherry-pick while viewing the completed pull request or selecting Cherry-pick from the ... menu while viewing an active pull request. Cherry-picking a pull request in this way creates a new branch with the copied changes that you then merge into a target branch in a second pull request.

In the dialog that appears, enter the branch you want to merge the copied changes into in the Target branch field and a new branch that will contain the copied changes in the Topic branch name field, then select Cherry-pick. If there are no conflicts between the target branch and the newly created topic branch, you can then select Create pull request to merge the topic branch into the target branch to complete the cherry-pick.

Set a new default branch


This step requires Edit Policies permissions on your Git repo.

Configure your Git repo to use a different default branch to merge code into when your team creates new pull requests. This is useful when you want to use a branch other than master for new changes or need to change your main line of development in your repo.

  1. Select the settings icon while you have your project open to bring up the project administration page.

    open up the administrative area of the VSTS web portal for your project

  2. Select Version Control.

  3. Select your Git repository. Your branches are displayed under your repo.

  4. Select the ... next to the branch you want to set as default, then select Set as default branch.

    Set a default branch for a Git repo in VSTS or TFS