Copy or clone work items and more

Azure DevOps Services | Azure DevOps Server 2022 - Azure DevOps Server 2019 | TFS 2018

There are two types of copy functions you can use. The first is to copy or duplicate a single work item, referred to as copy or clone.

There are two types of copy functions you can use. The first is to copy or duplicate a single work item, referred to as copy or clone.

The second function is to copy a multi-selected list of work items to the clipboard, referred to as copy as HTML or copy to clipboard.

Tip

You can't copy or clone linked work items at this time. For more information, see the Azure Boards FAQs.

Note

The images you see from your web portal may differ from the images you see in this article. These differences result from updates made to Azure DevOps Services. However, the basic functionality available to you remains the same unless explicitly mentioned.

Note

The images you see from your web portal may differ from the images you see in this article. These differences result from updates made to your on-premises Azure DevOps. However, the basic functionality available to you remains the same unless explicitly mentioned.

Prerequisites

  • You must be added to a project.
  • To view or modify work items, you must have your View work items in this node and Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. For more information, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.
  • To add new tags to add to work items, you must have Basic access or higher and have the project-level Create new tag definition permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. Even if the permission is explicitly set for a Stakeholder, they don't have permission to add new tags, as they're prohibited through their access level. For more information, see Stakeholder access quick reference.
  • All project members, even members in the Readers group, can send emails containing work items.
  • You must be added to a project.
  • To view or modify work items, you must have your View work items in this node and Edit work items in this node permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. For more information, see Set permissions and access for work tracking.
  • To add new tags to add to work items, you must have Basic access or higher and have the project-level Create new tag definition permissions set to Allow. By default, the Contributors group has this permission set. Even if the permission is explicitly set for a Stakeholder, they don't have permission to add new tags, as they're prohibited through their access level. For more information, see Stakeholder access quick reference.
  • All project members, even members in the Readers group, can send emails containing work items.

Copy or clone a work item

Copy a work item when you want to create a new work item that's a duplicate of an existing one. When you copy a work item, you create a new work item with a new ID, but the fields of the new work item are prepopulated with the same values as the original work item. You can then modify the fields of the new work item as needed. A related link to the original work item gets created and any parent link is copied over. No history or attachments are copied over from the original work item.

Clone a work item when you want to create an exact copy of an existing work item, including all the fields and attachments, but with a new ID. Cloning is useful when you want to create a new work item that's the same as an existing one, with no field modifications needed.

In other words, copy a work item to create a new work item with prepopulated values that you can adjust, and clone a work item to create an exact copy.

Note

Some fields might get copied, depending on the on-premises version you're working with and how you customized your work item types. If the work item type of the work item that you clone has no state transition rule that says to clear the Closed By field when the State is New or Active, then that field gets copied. The current system out-of-box templates have this rule defined, which was added to TFS 2018 and later versions.

  1. From the web portal, open the work item you want to copy or clone, open the … context menu, and choose Create copy of work item.

    Screenshot showing open context menu with Create copy of work item highlighted.

  2. Choose the project and work item type if different from the copied work item. Optionally change the Title and provide more details.

    Copy work item dialog

    Optionally, check one or more of the boxes:

    • Include existing links: To include all Related and external links in the copied work item. A Related link gets created automatically for the work item copied, and included in the Discussion section. There's no method for disabling this feature.
    • Include existing attachments: To include attachments in the copied work item
    • Include child work items: To include existing links to child work items in the copied work item. This feature isn't recursive. Only those work items directly linked as children to the work item being copied are included. This option appears even if there are no child items linked to the work item.

    Note

    • When you copy the work item to a different project, Include child work items is disabled.
    • When you copy a work item and choose to Include child work items, a copy is made of each child work item and linked to the copied work item through a Parent-Child link.
    • The Include child work items feature requires installation of Azure DevOps Server 2020.1 update.
  3. In the work item form that opens, update other fields as needed. All work items start in the New state.

  1. From the web portal, open the work item you want to copy or clone, open the … context menu, and choose Create copy of work item.

    Screenshot of web portal, user story work item form, open context menu, select Create copy of work item.

  2. Choose the project and work item type if different from the copied work item.

    Copy work item dialog

    Optionally, check one or more of the boxes:

    • Include existing links: To link the copied work item as a Related link type and maintain all other related and external links included in the copied work item.
    • Include existing attachments: To include attachments in the copied work item.
  3. Select OK.

  4. In the work item form that opens, update other fields as needed. All work items start in the New state.

  1. From the web portal, open the work item you want to copy or clone, open the … context menu, and choose Create copy of work item.
    web portal, user story work item form, open context menu, click Create copy of work item

  2. Choose the project and work item type if different from the copied work item. Optionally change the Title and provide more details. To link the copied work item as a Related link type and maintain all other links (related links and external links) included in the copied work item, check the Include existing links checkbox.

    Copy work item dialog

  3. Select OK.

  4. In the work item form that opens, update other fields as needed. All work items start in the New state.

Tip

Copied or cloned work items always have an ID that is greater than the work items from which they were copied or cloned.

Change the work item type

If you have a large number of work items whose type you want to change, use Change work item type. If the Change work item type option isn't available to you, you can export a set of work items using Excel or CSV, copy them to a new list, and reimport them by specifying a different work item type. See Bulk add or modify work items with Excel or Import or update work items in bulk by using CSV files.

Copy a list of work items

You can copy an HTML formatted table of selected items from either a backlog page or query results list. Then, you can send an email of this list using your choice of email client, or paste the list into a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or other application.

Note

The data copied with Copy as HTML is the same as that copied when you select Email selected work items. If you don't have an SMTP server configured, you can work around this by using Copy as HTML. For on-premises Azure DevOps, all email actions require an SMTP server to be configured.

  1. From the web portal, open a backlog or query results page, and multi-select the work items you want to copy to the clipboard.

  2. Open the … context menu of one of the selected work items, and then choose Copy to clipboard or Copy as HTML.

    Here we multi-select from the product backlog and choose Copy to clipboard.

    backlog page, multi-select items, open context menu, Copy to clipboard

Paste the contents into your email client

Paste the contents of the clipboard into your email client or other application. To open a linked work item, requires users to have read access to the project or area node for those work items.

The formatted table contains a link to each work item included in your selected results list. A link to a query that opens only those work items selected is also provided.

Copy as HTML paste results

Copy the URL

Copy the URL from the web browser address or hover over the title and then select the Copy to clipboard icon copy-to-clipboard icon.

Copy hyperlink for a work item from web portal