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The mysterious "Category" field at the issue level

I was hoping to use the "Group by: Category" feature in a project in Jira work management.

By default, when you use that option in the List view, all the issues are 'Uncategorized'.

So I thought I needed to have a 'Category' field for the issues. And indeed, there is one such field in the default set of fields, which is apparently built-in, and provided by Jira. I added the field to my 'Task' issue type.

However, I can't use the field in any useful manner, as it behaves like a list-of-choice field, but without any choices. When I edit an issue and try to set the value for 'Category', it stays desperately empty. How can I add a value in the category field?

Note that I am NOT asking about about project categories, which really appear to be a completely different feature.

5 answers

1 accepted

1 vote
Answer accepted

The answer has been given within a thread, not as a root comment, so I cannot mark it as Accepted directly, but here is a link to the answer from @Clayton Correia :

In short, my question has been answered in another discussion and there is now some useful documentation about the use of categories in Jira Work Management:

2 votes

@Charles PARNOT -

Welcome to the community.  You will need to access the the CLOG WHEEL symbol (Settings) assuming you have the system admin rights.

From Settings >> Issues >> Custom Fields, you need to locate the "Category" field, then click on the "..." symbol and select the option named "Contexts and default value".  From there, you need to create your project specific context for the dropdown list options.  NOTE - this can be applied to all of the issue types or just specific issue type(s).


Once it is set, then you will see the options for the field.

Hope this helps.

Best, Joseph Chung Yin

Jira/JSM Functional Lead, Global Infrastructure Applications Team

Viasat Inc.

Thanks a lot for the answer. I'll get admin rights and try this!

I was able to get into the Settings for the custom fields, but this "Category" field is "LOCKED".

From the other answers I received in this thread, I have a feeling this "Category" field is either a recent addition to Jira Service Management, and/or a feature that's not been really fully developed yet.

It will remain mysterious for now :) 

The category field has been there since Jira 4, when JQL arrived.  (It is actually older, Jira 3 had it, but JQL made it searchable)

1 vote

I was not a fan of Atlassian slapping a new field into all of your company-managed JWM projects despite it not being configured (or really useful in any way right now). I figured I'd do everyone a favor and just pull it from all of the screens. "Let Atlassian keep monkeying around but let's not impact my users", I thought.


There is a bug which results in the wrong field being removed, namely the "Summary" field. Since this field is required to create an issue (system-wide), it results in issue creation being blocked. 

Dear Charles:


I was with the same "problem", and I've fixed this using the following command in advanced JQL search in my Jira Cloud: "... AND labels in ([put your category text here]) ..."


You can use this very same syntax in any JQL, Panel or Project filter, so you can see only issues with an expecific text in "Category" field



Hi @Charles PARNOT,

Even though you say you are not referring to the project categories, the built-in category field IS the list of project categories. If the list of categories is empty, then it is because you don't have any project categories defined.

If you do have another category custom field in your Jira instance, then you'll need to provide options in that field as @Joseph Chung Yin describes. 

Ah, OK, that's good to know... The weird thing, though, is that you can "Group by Category" in the list view of a project, but then if the category value comes from project categories, you then have issues with different project categories, but all within the same project?! I am very new to Jira, and some of the design choices remain puzzling ;-) 

No, because a project can only be in one category, so if you change it, all the issues in it take on a new category.

Like Charles PARNOT likes this

@Charles PARNOT I believe our friend Walter is incorrect. The "category" field is a recent addition to Jira Work Management projects. The change log from Jul 18 - Jul 25 includes it. Search for the term "Categorize items in your list" to find the specific entry.

According to the entry, all you have to do is type directly into the category field, and your entry will appear as a list choice from then on. Let me know if this helps. 




Like # people like this

Um, project category has been searchable since Jira 4 got JQL.  It's not a "recent" thing.

Like Joseph Chung Yin likes this

I can confirm @Nic Brough -Adaptavist- and @Walter Buggenhout _ACA IT_ statements in regards to "project category" information.  The actual JQL field is "categories".  The "Category" implementation for Jira Work Management is something new.

Best, Joseph

Thanks for all the answers. I did not expect to trigger this friendly debate, I am really impressed by the level of activity on this community. The answer from @Joseph Chung Yin is probably the correct one, but the field is locked.

I will repeat here what I answered him... It looks like this "Category" field is either a recent addition to Jira Service Management, and/or a feature that's not been really fully developed yet. It will remain mysterious for now...

I forgot to answer @James Lester who suggested I could just type a value in the Category field when editing an issue, and the typed value would then be available as a choice in the list. AFAICT, this does not work. When I try typing a value, it just says "No matches found", and it remains so no matter what I do.

The mentioned change logs appear empty to me, so I am not sure where to find the info mentioned by @James Lester . Maybe they'll be published soon, it's just from last week...

Hey @Charles PARNOT,

In all the enthusiasm, one should almost forget your question is about Jira Service Management 🤗

Note that in JSM there is a concept of work categories. Those are a feature you can enable in a project, as you can read in this support article.

While it may seem a small thing, also read what it does with the organisation of your request types here before jumping into them feet first!  

Like James Lester likes this


I am happy to find this discussion and it's recent so that' wonderful.  I just submitted the same question actually.  :)

But I don't see an answer to Charles' question here. Charles, I have the exact same need but confusion as you.  The category filter on my LIST does not allow for me to add anything new.  Yet, I cannot configure this in the custom field list either, as it is locked.

This Category field is definitely different than project categories because I do have project categories defined and those don't show in this picklist either.

This field is somewhat a unicorn; greatly sought after but never seen and can't be used.

Surely someone has an answer as to how to use this field?

Like Paul Salais likes this

Ah ha!  Thank you @Charles PARNOT  and Clayton!

Thanks a lot Clayton, this is really useful, and clearly the correct answer. I updated this discussion to have the right answer.

@Charles PARNOT look at this:


 I tried to use as mentioned in the article, but is not working!

@Jorge Maluf For me, this works as described in the support document, but note that you have (1) to use the List view and do modifications in the Category column, and (2) be an admin to be able to add, rename and delete categories.

Hope that helps!

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