Add task checklists

Last Update: 3/6/2017

Team Services | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015.1


Feature availability: Task checklists on the Kanban board are supported from Team Services or the web portal for TFS 2015.1 or later version.

Many teams find Kanban ideal for tracking work as it supports visualizing the flow of work in progress. And, you can quickly add new items and update status.

With task checklists, you continue to enjoy lightweight tracking, while gaining visibility into which tasks are still to be completed and those that are done. Task checklists provide a quick and easy way to track elements of work which are important to support completing a backlog item. Here we see several tasks for work in progress, both yet to do and those completed.

Kanban board with several task checklists defined


The images you see from your web portal may differ from the images you see in this topic. These differences result from updates made to Team Services or your on-premises TFS, options that you or your admin have enabled, and which process was chosen when creating your team project—Agile, Scrum, or CMMI. However, the basic functionality available to you remains the same unless explicitly mentioned.

Work items are denoted with icons for Team Services and TFS 2017.2 and later versions. For an overview of changes in the navigation experience and working within the user and administration contexts, see Work in the web portal.

Add a task or set of tasks

  1. To start adding tasks, open the menu for the work item.

    Open the context menu of a backlog item to add a task

    For users of Team Services or TFS 2017 or later versions, you'll see several additional menu options:

    Open the context menu of a backlog item to add a task

  2. If you have a number of tasks to add, simply keep typing your task titles and click Enter.

    Work item with several tasks added

  3. If you have details you want to add about a task, open the parent work item and then click the links icon links tab.

    Open parent work item, Links tab

  4. Double-click the task, or select and press the Enter key, to open it.

    Open task work item form from task checklist

    Tasks that you create from the Kanban board will show up on your sprint task board. Also, tasks that you create from the sprint backlog or taskboard will show up within tasks checklists on the Kanban board.

Mark a task as done

When you complete a task, simply click the checkbox to change its status to Done or Closed.

Check tasks that are complete

The State of the work item is updated from To Do to Done for Scrum projects, and from Active to Closed for Agile and CMMI projects.

Expand or collapse the task checklist

Upon first opening the Kanban board, you'll see an unexpanded view of checklists.

Expand task checklist for a work item

Simply click the task checklist summary to expand a collapsed task checklist. Click the same summary to collapse an expanded checklist.

Reorder and reparent tasks or reassign them to a sprint

Tasks that you create from the Kanban board are automatically assigned to the sprint/iteration path of the parent work item under which you define them.

You can drag a task within a work item to reorder it. Or, you can drag the task to another work item on the Kanban board to reparent it.

Drag tasks to reorder them within the list

To reassign a task to a different sprint, you must open the sprint backlog where it's currently defined and then drag it to the new sprint.

Use your task checklist for lightweight tracking of to-do lists. You can also add tags and show tags and fields on cards to support other tracking needs.

If you connect to Team Services, you can also:

If you find that you don't use this feature, you can disable it from the common configurations dialog.

If you're new to working with the Kanban board, see Kanban basics

Card controls and keyboard shortcuts

Control Function
TAB key Select the next field or next card
Enter key Open card work item
Shift + F10 Open card context menu
ARROW + ENTER/SPACE Select option from the action menu
CTRL + drag & drop Copy selected inline item to another backlog item

Kanban board controls

Control Function
Backlog Switch to backlog view
Board Switch to Kanban board view
Search filter Filter by keyword or tag
Kanban filter icon Filter by field
Live updates icon Enable live updates
Settings icon Customize the board and configure team settings:
Cards | Card reordering | Columns | Swimlanes | CFD chart | Backlogs | Working days | Working with bugs
full screen icon / exit full screen icon Enter or exit full screen mode

Enter ? to open the Kanban board keyboard shortcuts. See also Keyboard shortcuts.


Feature availability: Global keyboard shortcuts are available from Team Services and the web portal for TFS 2015.2 or later version.

Kanban keyboard shortcuts

Customize the Kanban board

To customize or change the layout of the board, see one of these topics.

Enable live updates


Feature availability: This feature is supported from Team Services and TFS 2017 and later versions.

Enable live updates to automatically refresh your Kanban board when changes occur. With live updates enabled, you no longer have to press F5 to see the latest changes.

Kanban board, live updates icon

As one team member updates the status of a work item, other team members will see those updates in real time as they occur.

Live update

REST API resources

To programmatically create tasks, see the Work API reference.