Five Powerful Jira Search Functions to Supercharge Your Project Management

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Jira makes it easy for agile project managers to keep all their project and team information in one place. But when you’re dealing with possibly thousands of issues and hundreds of projects in your Jira instance, the information that you need can be hard to find.

Quick and basic Jira search options are helpful for general, straightforward queries. But for more complex queries, you may need more powerful search options. With advanced Jira Query Language (JQL), you can find the answers to almost any question you have. You can even create and save filters for common queries, so you don’t have to type them in every time.

We’ll give you a review of the types of Jira search and then show you how to use JQL to take your Jira searches to the next level.

Types of Jira Searches

You can search in Jira using Quick Search, Basic Search, and Advanced Search. If these aren’t enough for what you need to do, there are also search extension apps to expand your capabilities even further.

Quick Search

For simple queries, a quick search is your best option. Just enter a simple keyword to what you’re looking for in the main Jira search bar.

Jira Quick Search screenshot
Jira quick search bar gives you a list of possible results as you type.

As you start to type, the automatic Smart Querying feature will show you a dropdown of what you may be looking for based on your keywords.

Basic Search

When you need to get a bit more specific, use a basic search to filter by project, type, assignee, status and more. You can select among a wide array of options to combine, filling in the information you want for each one. Basic Searches can also be saved as filters for dashboards and reports. With all these functions, even experienced project managers may not explore beyond basic search, but if you don’t take advantage of JQL advanced search, you’re missing out.

Advanced Search

For the most advanced searches, JQL allows you the greatest flexibility as you can use all the options you have in basic search as well as adding other operators like NOT and OR. While the language may look intimidating, the auto-complete feature gives you hints as to what to add next, whether it’s a field, an operator, a value, a keyword, or a function.

Next-Level Jira Search Features

Once you know the basics of Jira searches, you can discover new ways to use and apply them to make project management easier. We’ll give you a few tips to try out.

Jira Search By Label

Jira allows you to create custom labels for issues so you can categorize them and find them more easily. For example, a label might show that an issue requires approval by a certain person, whether it’s ready for testing, or the type of deliverable that’s in it.

You can search by label using either basic or advanced search. With a basic search, select “More” at the end of the search bar and then select the labels you need. This will show you all the issues with the selected labels.

Screenshot of Jira basic search by labels
With basic search, you can select as many labels as you want.

With advanced search, you might want to search for issues that have been labeled as approved by a certain person but are not “ready for testing.” Using JQL, enter this query:

Project = “ABC” AND labels = “#AliceApproved” AND labels != “readyForTesting”

Use Jira Subqueries

Often in a large Jira instance, you may need to do several searches to narrow down what you’re looking for. For example, you might start with a query on the epic level, and then you’d search issues within that and possibly subtasks of issues. Even with advanced search, it’s difficult to avoid doing multiple searches when navigating hierarchies.

To do this, you need a search extension app like JQL Search Extensions for Jira. This allows you to create more complex queries with additional functions including childrenOfEpicsInQuery, childrenOfIssuesInQueryRecursive, parentsOfSubtasksInQuery, and more. With just one search, you can pinpoint what you’re looking for, no need for multiple queries or copy-pasting. Even better, extended search functions can also be used when you’re saving filters or generating reports.

JQL Search for Attachments

As many Jira issues have important attachments like Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and pdfs, being able to quickly locate them is critical. With JQL, there’s an “attachments” field, so you can find all the issues in a project that have attachments with this query:

project = “ABC” AND attachments is not EMPTY

However, there may be many issues with attachments. What if you want to find an issue with a certain number of attachments or to search within the content of an attachment? Search extensions like attachmentsCount and attachmentContent make that possible. You can learn more about using search extensions with attachments here.

Track Users Logging Time on an Issue

To ensure productivity and keep team members from becoming overloaded, it’s useful to be able to see which team members are working on an issue and how much time they’re logging on it. With out-of-the-box JQL, there aren’t any direct queries to do this. But with a search extension, it’s easy. 

If you want to find out all the issues in which certain team members logged time, just use this query:

loggedTimeBy in (“sam”, “jessica”)

You can also use this query with membersof() to find all the issues that members of a scrum team have logged time on.

Find Issues that Have Been Moved 

If projects are closely connected or if their scope changes, issues sometimes get moved between projects. This can cause confusion when you’re looking for an issue that you thought was in your team’s project. In addition, if issues have been moved among several projects or are frequently moved back and forth, there may be some miscommunication or inefficiency that needs to be addressed.

With the extended search function movedProjectsCount, you can easily find issues that have moved between projects. For example, to find issues that have moved two or more times, use this:

movedProjectsCount >= 2

Unlock Jira Search Potential with JQL Magic

JQL search allows you to stay on top of issues more efficiently. To learn more about the potential of advanced search, read our free e-book, The Essential Spellbook to Unleash Advanced Jira Query Language Magic.

If you want to take advanced searching further than standard JQL, consider JQL Search Extensions for Jira. It’s free to try for 30 days.

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