Search for work items

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017

Work Item Search provides fast and flexible search across all your work items over all projects in an account.

See also: Adhoc vs managed work item queries

Get searching

  1. In the search textbox at the top right of the window, check that the text says Search work items.

    The Work Item Search textbox in the VSTS title bar

    If you have the Code Search extension installed, the search text box may say Search code. In this case, use the drop-down selector to change it.

  2. Enter a search string in the textbox, and press Enter (or choose the start search icon icon) to start your search.

  3. Search results are displayed in a snippet view where the matches found are shown in bold.

    Search results

    This is a full text search that uses simple search strings for words or phrases. Work item search matches derived forms of your search terms; for example, a search for "updating" will also find instances of the word "updated" and "update". Note that searches are not case-sensitive.

  4. Select a snippet of a work item to display it in the right window. You can edit and manage this work item in the usual way.

    Display a work item

    Open the search results in a new browser tab from a search box by pressing Ctrl + Enter or by holding Ctrl and clicking the start search icon icon. In Google Chrome, press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to switch the focus to the new browser tab.

  5. Fine tune your search by specifying the fields to search. Enter a: and a user name to search for all items assigned to that user.

    Static drop down

    The quick filters you can use are:

    • a: for Assigned to:
    • c: for Created by:
    • s: for State
    • t: for Work item type

  6. Start typing the name of a field in your work items; for example, type ta.

    Quick filters as you type

    The dropdown list shows work item field name suggestions that match user input thereby helping the user to complete the search faster. For example, a search such as tags:Critical finds all work items tagged 'Critical'.

  7. Add more filters to further narrow your search, and use Boolean operators to combine terms if required. For example, a: Chris t: Bug s: Active finds all active bugs assigned to a user named Chris.

  8. Widen your search across all projects, or narrow it to specific types and states, by using the drop-down selector lists at the top of the results page.

    Selector drop-down lists

    Work Item search remembers your filter settings. For example, the project and area path that you have selected in a search will be applied in your subsequent searches.

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