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Work Item Search Syntax

You can use the search boxes provided in Team Explorer and Team Web Access to specify keywords and phrases, and use variables and shortcut identifiers to find work items. Searches use the search string to filter the work items defined within the team project that you are currently connected to. Searching is not case sensitive


You can use one or more of the shortcut identifiers that are available from the search box drop-down menu. As the following table shows, these shortcut identifiers are used instead of the full names of several frequently-used fields.




A or a

Assigned To

A="Peter Waxman" or A:Peter finds all work items assigned to Peter.

C or c

Created By

C=@Me finds all work items created by you.

S or s


S=Active C=@Me finds all active work items assigned to you.

T or t

Work Item Type

S=Active T=bug finds all active bugs.

Keywords or phrases that you type into the search box return a list of work items that contain those keywords or phrases in the Description, Repro Steps, or Title fields. You must enclose each phrase in quotation marks.

To find all work items that contain the following keywords or phrases:

Type the following string into the search box:



Getting Started

"Getting Started"

feature and Getting Started

feature "Getting Started"

The following table shows how to find work items based on a keyword or phrase contained within other text string fields. You can specify either the friendly name or the reference name of the field. When the friendly name or field value corresponds to a phrase, enclose each phrase in quotation marks. You can determine the friendly name of a field by hovering over the field within a work item form. To determine the reference name of commonly used fields or to find a field that is not listed on the form, see Work Item Field Reference for Visual Studio ALM.

To find all work items that meet the following criteria:

Type the following string into the search box:

Contains one attached file.


Cut user stories.

T:Story Reason=Cut or T="User Story" System.Reason=Cut

Resolved by Peter.

"Resolved By":Peter or Microsoft.VSTS.Common.ResolvedBy:Peter

Modified today.

"Changed Date"=@Today

Created yesterday as a test activity.

"Created Date"=@Today-1 Activity=Test


Some fields, such as History and Description, do not support partial word text searches. For example, if the History field contains the phrase reproducible behavior and you search for History:repro the work item will not be found. However, if you search for the complete string History:reproducible the work item will be found.

Using the @Me or @Today macros, you can find work items that are assigned to you or were modified recently. The @Me macro expands to the full name of the current user in any work item search. The @Me macro is especially useful for creating a search that you can share with other users, and it can simplify your work by reducing the number of characters you must type to specify your own user name.

To find all work items that meet the following criteria:

Type the following string into the search box:

Currently assigned to you.


Created by you.


Resolved yesterday.

"Resolved Date"=@Today-1

Modified 7 days ago.


Created yesterday under the Phone Saver team for the FabrikamFiber team project.

"Created Date"=@Today-1 "Area Path"="FabrikamFiber\Phone Saver"

You can use three search operators to specify search criteria, as shown in the following table.




The EQUALS operator. Use this operator to search for exact matches of text.


The CONTAINS operator. Use this operator to search for partial matches of text.


The NOT operator. Use this operator to exclude work items that contain certain text. The NOT operator can only be used with field names.

The following examples show how to use operators when you create a search string.

To find all work items that meet the following criteria:

Type the following string into the search box:

Assigned to Peter and not Active.

A:Peter -S=Active

In which the Activity field was not Development.

- Activity=Development

Resolved by Peter.

"Resolved By":Peter

Contain the keyword triage in the title or description, are not assigned to you, and are not closed.

triage -A=@me -S=Closed

Active bugs that are assigned to you that do not contain the keyword bugbash in the title.

S=Active T=bug A=@Me -Title:bugbash

A: No. The search box doesn’t recognize comparison operators such as greater than (>) or less than (<). It translates queries with these operators into a search phrase.