Watching issues in Jira: The comprehensive playbook for 2019

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Jira Watch Issues comprehensive guide

An important part of using Jira effectively is being able to track issues that are important to you.

Fortunately, Jira makes this incredibly simple with its “watching” functionality.

By watching an issue you sign up to receive email notifications whenever the issue is updated, allowing you to monitor work as it happens.

In this guide to watching issues we’ll provide all the details on this functionality. From how to add watchers in Jira to how to filter watched issues.

Here is the overview:

  1. How to watch an issue in jira
  2. How to stop watching an issue in Jira
  3. How to watch Jira issues in bulk
  4. How to autowatch Jira issues
  5. How to see who is watching an issue in Jira
  6. How to add watchers in Jira
  7. Is there a way to check the issues you are watching in Jira?
  8. How to get a summary version rather than watching individual issues
  9. Does this crossover with Issue Voting?
  10. Jira apps for issue watching

How to watch jira issues

A good way to get notified of issue updates, and to keep track of changes, is to watch an issue in Jira.

How do you actually start watching an issues?

Simple.

First, find the issue you want to watch and go to the “View Issue” page.

Then click “Start watching this issue”.

 

How to watch issues in Jira

And you’re done!

How to stop watching an issue in Jira

To stop watching a Jira issue, just go to the same page and click “Stop watching this issue”.

How to stop watching issues in Jira

How to watch Jira issues in bulk

You might be wondering if there’s a way to do this faster. There is.

You can use the bulk watching functionality in Jira. This allows you to choose to watch multiple issues at once.

To start watching Jira issues in bulk, first go to the search tool to find the issues that you’d like to watch.

Then use the bulk change wizard:

how to watch Jira issues in bulk

 

  • Select the issues that you’d like to watch from the list and press “Next”
  • Select the option to “Watch Issues” from the list, then “Next” and then “Confirm”

And that’s it!

To note, bulk operations are configured to an individual’s account. And is not done by default in some versions of Jira.

And a final note, you can also use this tool to stop watching multiple issues.

How to autowatch Jira issues

You can configure your Jira to autowatch issues, based on a certain criteria.

In fact, we’ve created a custom workflow in which specific users are automatically added as watchers to an issue whenever it is created.

The following script will iterate over all users that have the role ‘ProjectWatcher’ and automatically be added as a watcher:

/*
** Add watchers from project role 'ProjectWatcher
** Code compatible with JIRA 6.2.3
*/
  
import com.atlassian.jira.component.ComponentAccessor
import com.atlassian.jira.security.roles.ProjectRole
import com.atlassian.jira.security.roles.ProjectRoleManager
import com.atlassian.jira.user.ApplicationUser
import com.atlassian.jira.issue.watchers.WatcherManager
 
 
 
/*
**    Set watcher based on the configuration of the CustomerWatcher (RADAR-408)
 */
ProjectRoleManager prm = ComponentAccessor.getComponentOfType(ProjectRoleManager.class)
WatcherManager watcherManager = ComponentAccessor.getWatcherManager()
 
ProjectRole customerWatcherRole = prm.getProjectRole("ProjectWatcher")
if (! customerWatcherRole) {
    log.error("Role 'CustomerWatcher' not found - is it configured ?")
    return
}
 
 
def customerWatchers = prm.getProjectRoleActors(customerWatcherRole, issue.getProjectObject())
if (! customerWatchers) {
    log.debug("Project Role Actors for role CustomerWatcher in project '"+issue.getProjectObject().getKey()+"' is null")
    return
}
 
 
for (ApplicationUser targetWatcher:customerWatchers.getApplicationUsers()) {
    watcherManager.startWatching(targetWatcher, issue)
}
 
 
 

There’s also the option to autowatch by default, which makes the user a watcher as soon as they comment on an issue. If you’d like to do this, check in with your admin.

If you are an admin and want to make the change, follow these steps;

  • Click on the Jira icon then “Jira settings” then “System” then “Default user preferences”
  • Once on the “User Default Settings” page, click “Edit default values”
  • Then check the “Autowatch own issues” setting, and click update – and you’re done

How to see who is watching an issue in Jira

If you have the appropriate permissions then you can see the watcher list on the right when looking at the “View issue” page.

Find Jira watchers

If you click on the number displayed to the right of “Watchers”, then you can see all the individual watchers.

How to add watchers in Jira

If you’re not the admin of your Jira, you can request the admin to grant the following permissions.

  • View Voters and Watchers: which allows users to see voter and watcher lists
  • Manage Watcher List: which allows users to see and edit the watcher list

If you are an admin, you can edit these settings by going to “Project Settings” and then “Permissions” before making the changes you need.

How to add watchers in Jira

Once you are on the “View issue” page for the issue you want to edit you can:

  • Go to the “Add Watchers” popup and click the number of watchers. This opens a dropdown. There you simply start typing the name of the watcher you’d like to add to this Jira issue. Select the watcher to add.

How to add watchers in Jira

  • Or you can click “More Actions” then “Watchers” to open the Watchers page. And you can add watchers from there.

Jira add watchers

You can also use these screens to review watchers and to remove watchers.

Is there a way to check the issues you are watching in Jira?

There’s more than one way to do this, in fact.

The first is to go to search and simply create a filter for issues in watchedIssues().

The second is to go to search and use the JQL query:

watcher = currentUser() AND resolution = Unresolved ORDER BY priority DESC, updated DESC

This will pull up a list of unresolved issues that you’re watching, ordered by priority.

jira find watched issues

You can also use this search for what issues other users are watching.

This of course also allows you to see which users are following issues that you have created.

And if you have the appropriate permissions you can add and remove issues from other users’ watch lists.

How to get a summary version rather than watching individual issues

Jira has got you covered.

Rather than receiving a notification for every update, a subscription lets you track a filter with a consolidated version of the change history sent in a single email.

This is extremely useful if you want to be kept up to date with the big picture without having to follow every change and update.

To set up a subscription:

  • go to search
  • save your query as a filter
  • and then click to subscribe to the filter.

Subscribe to filter of watched issues

Jira will then keep you up to date on all the issues matching the filter settings at an interval of your choice.

If you want, you can also watch the issues directly to provide additional information when needed.

Does this crossover with Issue Voting?

Only very loosely…

Issue voting allows you to give an issue a point to indicate that it should be prioritized.

Doing so, though, doesn’t enable email alerts in the way that watching an issue does.

Clicking “Vote for this issue” on the “View Issue” renders a vote. And you can then click again to remove your vote.

Issue watching vs issue voting in Jira

 

You can also see who has voted on an issue from the “View issue page” by clicking on the number of votes.

Jira apps for issue watching

There are several apps which can help you manage how you watch issues in Jira.

Component Watcher for Jira Cloud

COmponant Watcher for Jira Cloud

This app allows you to see all the watchers for components of a project from a single location.

You can also add and remove watchers using a Jira dashboard gadget. And you can get notifications by email for user groups.

The app is useful for getting updates on the specific components you’re interested in. And also for filtering by criteria such as Issue Type, Priority and Status.

Find component Watcher for Jira Cloud in the marketplace

Related issues for Jira Cloud

Related Issues for Jira Cloud to autowatch issues

The Related Issues app allows you to connect issues in order to have other issues visible from the “View Issue” page.

This allows you to quickly get a sense of the wider context of issues.

By seeing similar issues alongside one another, it can be particularly useful to flag if problems are recurring or if work is being duplicated across multiple tasks.

Find related Issues for Jira Cloud in the marketplace

Note: Jira Server users can get similar functionality from the Related issue panel app and the Related Issues app. These allow one or more customizable panels to be added to issue pages. The apps call up relevant issues based on rules that can be refined and targeted as needed using JQL. 

Watching related issues in jira

Watcher Custom Field for Jira
Watcher Custom Field Jira

Watcher Custom Field enables a new custom field type so watchers can be modified whenever issues are created or changed.

The app can be used throughout Jira (including in permission schemes, issue security schemes and workflows) and also allows users to search for watchers from the issue navigator.

The new functionality can be deployed wherever custom fields can be used; and, as standard, is only accessible to users that have the “Manage Watcher List” permission.

You can find Watcher Custom Field for Jira in the marketplace

Conclusion

Watching issues is a crucial way of keeping track of what is going on in your Jira instance.

Of course, you shouldn’t watch every issue that passes through the system. And we’ve explained the reasons why here.

But if you get the balance right, then you’ll have a laser focus on the work that is being done and the issues that are being updated across your Jira instance.

To recap: in this guide we’ve covered:

  • What does watching mean and why is it useful?
  • How to watch an issue
  • Watching in bulk
  • Automating watching
  • Reviewing watchers on an issue
  • Adding watchers
  • Finding out what issues you are watching
  • Using subscriptions
  • Issue voting
  • Apps that can help

If we’ve missed anything out or if you have any other questions, let us know in the comments below.

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