Add tags to work items to categorize and filter lists

Tagging work items helps you quickly filter the product backlog or a work item query by categories that you define.

You can add and modify tags in Visual Studio Online, Team Web Access (TWA), and the Team Explorer plug-in for Visual Studio (requires Visual Studio 2013.2 Update). Also, you can open a query in Excel or Project to perform bulk modifications of tags.

By default, all Contributors can create and modify tags.

Add tags and assign tags to work items
  1. From Visual Studio Online or Team Web Access (TWA), open a work item and add a tag. Or, select from the list of previously assigned tags.

    Add one or more tags to a work item

    To add several tags at one time, type a comma between tags. Tags are case sensitive.

    Tags that are listed in the tag bar are already assigned to the work item.

  2. To unassign a tag, simply choose the x on the tag, Delete a tag assigned to a work item.

Show tags in your backlog or query results

Open Column Options to add the Tags field to the product backlog or a work item query.

Add Tags to the selected columns to display

All tags that are assigned to the listed work items appear.

View with Tags column added
Filter a list of work items
  1. Turn on filtering and choose a tag.

    Choose a tag to filter the list by that tag

    The list refreshes. Only those work items with the selected tag are displayed. Filtering the list disables add-a-backlog-item panel, stack ranking, and forecasting.

    Filtered list disables other features
  2. To apply a sub-filter, choose another tag.

  3. To show all items, choose All or choose the Tag filter image on backlog and queries pages filter icon to turn filtering off.

Q & A
Q: Should I limit the number of tags created or assigned to work items?

A: While no hard limit exists, creating more than 100K tags for a team project collection can negatively impact performance. Also, the auto-complete dropdown menu for the tag control displays a maximum of 200 tags. When more than 200 tags are defined, begin typing to cause the tag control to display relevant tags

You can’t assign more than 256 tags to a work item. And, you can’t add more than 32 new tags within a single revision to a work item.

Limit queries to fewer than 25 tags. More than that and the query will likely time out.

Q: Can I filter on more than one tag?

A: Yes. You filter successively be choosing from the set of tags that appear in the filter tag bar. To start your filter process over, choose All to show all tags.

Q: How do I remove a tag from TFS?

A: You can’t delete a tag itself. However, if you delete a tag from all work items to which it’s currently assigned, TFS will delete the tag. TFS automatically deletes unassigned tags after 3 days of disuse.

Q: What if I misspell a tag?

A: Don't assign the misspelled tag to any work item and TFS will automatically delete it within 3 days.

Q: Can I add or modify tags using Visual Studio, Team Explorer, or Excel?

A: Yes, under the following circumstances:

  • Your team project is hosted on Visual Studio Online or on a server that has been upgraded to TFS 2013 Update 2 or later version.

  • You have updated your client to Visual Studio 2013.2 or Team Explorer 2013.2.

If you need to upgrade TFS, go to the download page. To learn more about Excel, see Bulk add or modify work items with Excel.

For on-premises TFS without TFS 2013 Update 2, you can view tags using any TFS client. However, you can only add tags and filter work item lists using TWA.

From the Team Explorer plug-in for Eclipse, you can filter queries by tags, however, you can’t add or modify tags from the user interface. You must use the web portal to add and modify tags.

Q: Can I add or modify tags using an API?

A: Yes, but only if the application-tier server includes the updates added with TFS 2013.2. You can use WorkItem.Fields or Work Item Field Explorer (provided with Team Foundation Server Power Tools) to determine if the Tags field is editable (IsEditable).

Q: Can I add a tag to my query?

A: Yes if you’re using Visual Studio Online or if your TFS contains the updates added with TFS 2013 Update 2.

For on-premises TFS without TFS 2013 Update 2, you can show tags as a column in the query results and you can filter a list based on a tag. However, you can’t add tags as a clause to the filter criteria.

Q: Can I restrict who can add tags?

A: If you’re using Visual Studio Online or if you’ve upgraded to TFS 2013 Update 2, you can restrict permissions as described in Tagging permissions.

Q: Are tags associated with teams?

A: No. Tags are associated with work items and a team project. If your team project contains multiple teams, all teams will add to and work from the same set of tags.

Q: Can I add Tags to my default column view on the product backlog page?

A: Yes. Modify the ProcessConfiguration file to include System.Tags in the set of fields to display. See Process configuration XML element reference.