Adhoc vs managed work item queries

VSTS | TFS 2018 | TFS 2017


Feature availability:  The Work item search feature is available from VSTS and TFS 2017 and later versions.

You have two ways to perform work item searches: adhoc and managed. You perform adhoc queries using the work item search box (shown below), whereas you perform managed queries using the built-in search function available from the Work hub, Queries page.

Search Work Items Text Box

Use adhoc queries when you want to:

  • Find a specific work item using its ID or a keyword
  • Find one or more work items across all team projects in a fast, flexible manner
  • Perform full text search across all work item fields
  • Review work items assigned to a specific team member
  • Search against specific work item fields to quickly narrow down a list of work items
  • Determine what key words will support a managed search


    With Work item search, searches are performed against a full-text search engine that has indexed all work item fields.

Use managed queries when you want to:

  • Review or triage a group of work items
  • Perform bulk updates on several work items such as change Assign To, Iteration Path, or more
  • Review parent-child or dependent links among work items
  • Create a status or trend chart from a flat list query
  • Create a list of work items that you'll export to Excel or Project (requires that you have installed the Team Foundation Server Standalone Office Integration 2015 (free) plug-in)

Work item search box context

Note that with Work item search, the work item search box is repurposed to support adhoc queries. In order to initiate a managed search, you need to open the Work>Queries page.