Work in Team Explorer

Last Update: 8/3/2017

Team Services | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

You use Team Explorer to manage work that is assigned to you, your team, or your team projects, and to coordinate your efforts with other team members to develop a project. Team Explorer is a plug-in that installs with Visual Studio or Eclipse. Working from different platforms, developers and stakeholders can effectively collaborate using Team Explorer connected to team projects hosted on Visual Studio Online or on-premises Team Foundation Server (TFS).


You can access the latest version of Visual Studio clients from the Visual Studio Downloads page. Additional options for connecting to Team Services or TFS include:

The operations available to you depend on which source control option—Team Foundation version control (TFVC) or Git—was selected to manage source code when the team project was created.

Team Explorer plug-in for Visual Studio

Team Explorer connects Visual Studio to team projects. You can manage source code, work items, and builds. Or, create a team project.


If you open Visual Studio and the Team Explorer pane doesn't appear, click the View/Team Explorer menu option.

Home page with Git

Team Explorer Home page with Git as source control

Home page with TFVC

Team Explorer Home page w/ TFVC as source control


Some pages, such as Reports and Documents, only appear when TFS is configured with the required resources, such as SQL Server Reporting Services and SharePoint.

If you don't need Visual Studio, but do want to connect to Team Services or TFS or get one or more Team Foundation add-ins, you can install the free Visual Studio Community.

Team Explorer plug-in for Eclipse

If you work in Eclipse or on a non-Windows platform, you can install the Team Explorer plug-in for Eclipse. Once installed, you can share your Eclipse projects by adding them to Team Services or TFS using Git or TFVC.

Home page with Git (Eclipse)

Home page w/ Git as source control - Eclipse

Home page with TFVC (Eclipse)

Home page w/ TFVC as source control - Eclipse


Some pages, such as Reports and Documents, only appear when TFS is configured with the required resources, such as SQL Server Reporting Services and SharePoint.

Choose the page to access the task you want

Based on the page you select and the options configured for your team project.

Connect page

From the Connect page, you can select the team projects you want to connect to and quickly switch context between team projects.

Team Explorer, Connect

Git: Local Git repo

If you connect to a Git repo, you also can create, add, or clone repositories.

Team Explorer, Connect, local Git repo options

TFVC: Map workspace

If you connect to a TFVC repo, you'll be prompted to Configure your workspace (TFVC) on first connect.

Team Explorer, Connect, configure TFVC workspace

Important: From the Visual Studio plug-in, you can Create a team project. The ability to create team projects is not supported from the Eclipse plug-in. You can, however, create team projects from the web portal account/collection administration context.

Home, Work, and Build pages


If inline images aren't displaying correctly, see Resolve images that don't display in Team Explorer.

Git and TFVC pages

The Git and TFVC repos support different pages and functions. You'll see one or the other pages depending on the team project and repro you connect to. For a comparison of the two repos, see Choosing the right version control for your project.

Report and Document pages (TFS only)

The Report page opens the Reporting Services report site. This page appears only when your team project has been configured with SQL Server Analysis Services and Reporting Services. Also, the option to Create Report in Microsoft Excel appears only when reporting has been configured for the team project.

From the Document page, you can open project portal and manage documents and document libraries. This page appears only if your team project has been configured with a SharePoint Products portal.

If your team project is missing one or more pages, you may be able to add functionality to your on premises TFS deployment.

Settings page

From the Settings page, you can configure administrative features for either a team project or team project collection. Configuring features in these areas requires you to be a member of a Team Services or TFS administrator group.

Most of the links open to a web portal administration page. Not all settings are available from the Team Explorer plug-in for Eclipse.

To learn more about administration features, see Work in the web portal, administration context.

You've now got a basic understanding of how to work in the Team Explorer add-in for Visual Studio and Eclipse.

Additional resources you may find of interest are listed below. Note that many of these resources you access from the web portal, and not from Team Explorer.

User accounts and licensing

To connect to a team project from Team Explorer, you need your user account added to the team project. This is typically done by the account owner (Team Services) or a project administrator (TFS).

Team Services provides access to the first 5 account users free. After that, you need to pay for more users (Team Services). For on-premises TFS, each user account must have a TFS client access license (CAL). All Visual Studio subscriptions and paid Team Services users include a TFS CAL. Find out more about licensing from the Team Foundation Server pricing page.

In addition, you can provide access to stakeholders in your organization who will have limited access to select features as described in Work as a Stakeholder.

Troubleshoot connection problems

Here's a list of the most frequently encountered connection problems and what to do about them. Start at the top and follow it in the order indicated.

  1. Verify that you have required permissions.

    If the errors that you receive indicate read-only or blocked actions, you might not have permission to act on the data.

  2. Verify that your computer is connected to the network and can access network resources.

  3. Verify that TFS hasn't been taken offline. Talk with your TFS administrator.

  4. Verify whether your team project has been moved to another team project collection in Team Foundation Server. If it has been moved, you must create a connection to the new server name.

For more troubleshooting tips, TF31002: Unable to connect to this Team Foundation Server.

Clients that connect to Team Services or TFS

In addition to connecting through Team Explorer, you can connect to a team project from these clients:

Refresh Team Explorer

If data doesn't appear as expected, the first thing to try is to refresh your client. Refreshing your client updates the local cache with changes that were made in another client or in TFS. To refresh Team Explorer, do one of the following actions:

  • To refresh a page that you are currently viewing, choose Refresh icon Refresh icon in the menu bar (or choose the F5 key).

  • To refresh the team project you currently have selected, choose Home, and then choose Refresh icon Refresh icon (or choose the F5 key).

  • To refresh the set of teams defined for the team project that you currently have selected, choose the Connect icon, and then choose Refresh icon Refresh icon (or choose the F5 key).

To avoid potential errors, you should refresh your client application under the following circumstances:

  • Process changes are made
  • Work item type definitions are added, removed, renamed or updated
  • Area or iteration paths are added, removed, renamed or updated
  • Users are added to or removed from security groups or permissions are updated
  • A team member adds a new shared query or changes the name of a shared query
  • A build definition is added or deleted
  • A team or team project is added or deleted.

Resolve images that don't display in Team Explorer

If an in-line image fails to display in a work item form you view from Team Explorer, but does display in the web portal, your Visual Studio credentials to access Team Services or TFS have expired.

You can resolve it with the following steps.

  1. In Visual Studio, click View>Other Windows>Web Browser (Or, use the shortcut Cltr+Alt+R).
  2. In the web browser, locate either your Visual Studio Team Services or TFS account.
  3. Login with your account.
  4. Refresh your work item in Team Explorer.

Additional tools provided with TFS Power Tools (Visual Studio 2015 & TFS 2015)

By installing TFS Power Tools, you gain access to these additional tools through the Team Explorer plug-in for Visual Studio:

  • Process Template Editor
  • Additional check-in policies for Team Foundation Version Control
  • Team Explorer enhancements including Team Members
  • Team Foundation Power Tool Command Line
  • Test Attachment Cleaner
  • Work Item Templates

Additional requirements may apply.


For TFS 2017 and later versions, you can install the TFS Process Template editor from the Visual Studio Marketplace. You can use this version of the Process Editor to modify the old-style work item forms. You can't use it to edit forms associated with the new web forms.

Feedback and support

We welcome your feedback.

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