Can we restrict access to JIRA tickets by watchers and reporters?

We have a JIRA project called simply Accounts. It's used for people to request new accounts. We use JEMH, so most requests are coming in via email and the requestor has no JIRA access. However, sometimes existing JIRA users create account requests.

Currently it's set up so all jira-users are in the "users" role and users can create tickets and see all tickets.

We would like it to work differently. Specifically

  1. Allow any jira-user to create a new ticket and they then have access to it.
  2. Allow us to add watchers (not in the project's developer or admin roles) and those watchers can see that ticket as well.

Is this possible?

Thanks in Advance.

7 answers

1 accepted

3 votes
Accepted answer


You should check out this plugin: Jira Watcher Field

It adds a new field type that you can use in permisison schemes, Issue Security Schemes etc. It will make it possible to grant various access to watchers on specific tickets.

Make sure everyone can create tickets and that your new watcher field has browse permission, maybe even edit permission if you want them to be able to edit the tickets they are watching.

I am using this plugin for a number of JIRA projects and it works great!


// Svante

This sounds good. It's not working yet for me so I'm setting this up incorrectly. I installed the plugin. I created the custom field per the documentation. In the relevant permission scheme, I removed "users" from "browse projects". Added user field "Watcher Field" to "browse projects". Tried adding a watcher to an issue and got the error "The user does not have permission to view this issue."

So then I created a new security scheme. (my first so this may be the problem).

Set a security level called "watchers". In that gave roles administrators and developers and custom field "Watcher Field" permissions.

Got the same error when I tried to add a watcher.

Then I left the security scheme in place and gave users browse projects permissions again and still the same error.

The way I'm reading this plugin is it does all the work of putting watchers into the custom field.

Any idea what I'm doing wrong? Thanks in advance.

So my advice is to start over (I mean - just revert the changes in the permission and issue security scheme) and perform the steps in the following sequence:

  1. In the project "Permission Scheme"
    1. give administrators and developers "Manage Watcher List" permission
    2. give administrators and developers "Set Issue Security" permission
  2. Try if a developer or administrator is able to set values in the watchers field and users can not
  3. Create an "Issue Security Scheme" and add level "watchers"
  4. Add administrators, developers, and watchers field
  5. Test if you're able to set issue security on an issue

I hope I'm not missing something , but the general idea is to test the result on each step , so eventually you can see which exact step you did wrong an then try to figure out this specific problem.

After step 4 and before step 5 do I not need to assign the new issue security scheme to the project in question? I did this, but results aren't correct. My test user, that was a watcher on at least one issue in the project, could not see any issues in the project and could not be added as a watcher (same error as before).

As far as step 5 goes, I'm not actually sure how to do that. does not cover setting the issue security for a single issue. I'm new to using issue security levels, as I'm sure you can tell. This will be cool when I get it to work.

I appreciate your patience with me.

For step 4 I what I ment was to assign the Issue Security scheme to the project, but it's a good idea to test that before setting issue security all users can see everything, so you're sure that before assigning the issue security scheme to the project everything is fine.

As to the set issue security level - only users with "Set Issue Security Level" permission from the project's permission scheme can set issue security and also this filed should be added to the screens (To check why the field is not there use the "Where is My Field" admin tool

Before assigning the Issue Security Scheme make sure that all users can see all issues (All users should have the appropriate permissions in the project's permission scheme - Browse Projects)

Hi, you were almost there in your attempt with the plugin :) you need to do the following to make it work 1. Create a new custom field based on the new field type added by the plugin. Name the field 'watchers' 2. Add this field to your edit and view screen. This will make it possible to add users that have no other permission to the ticket JIRA watcher will not allow users without permission as you noticed! 3 in the plugin configuration you can tell jira to accept watchers with no permission 4. Add your custom field to the issue security scheme 5. Done! Plz, note that you need to add users to your CF rather than to the built-in watcher, but they synchronize directly! Hope this helped! Sorry if it was described a bit compact, did this on my phone :) Cheers, svante

Got it! It's working. Based on the plugin docs I thought the watchers field would write to the CF, not the other way around. However, that's the only part that doesn't seem to be working. I add users to the CF and they can see only those tickets so that's good. But their names are not being added to the watchers field of those tickets.

It's sort of seems like the plugin isn't actually doing anything. ??

Feels like I configured per Julian's recommendation. What is the plugin doing for me?

Great to hear that you got it to work!

The JIRA built-in watcher field actually populates your CF but in this specific use-case granting issue access it is not possible due to a catch-22 situation. The built-in watcher does not allow you to add a user that won't see the ticket.

The fact that the user will get access when added is irrelevant to the built-in watcher. It is here the plugin works well since you can override this check with the plugin configuration.

When you say that the field is not synched between the CF and Watcher I don't understand. In my setup that works fine. I add the user to the CF and when the ticket is saved it shows in the built-in watcher field.

Can you describe a little bit more what is happening when you add a watcher.


// Svante

When I edit an issue. I put a user in the CF "Watcher Field" and save the ticket. The new users do not appear in the list of Watchers.

Hmm, weird!

A question:

Have you added your CF Watcher field to the Issue Security Scheme? I guess if this is not the case the JIRA built-in watcher will reject it.

You could try this out by creating a temp account that you grant access using this mechanism and then use the permission helper (great tool) to se if your temp user can see the ticket. The permission helper will reveal any problems with your schemes

Let me know how that works out!


// Svante

Yes, the CF Watcher FIeld has been added to the Security Scheme. And yes I have a dummy account that I use for various testing.

I can't find the permission helper. It's a plugin I assume? I'm not getting anything by that name to pop up with I search for addons.

(thanks for sticking with me on this one!)

Hi, no problem, I don't give up until we have solved this issue :-)

The permission helper is a bundled add-on (since 5.2, I think). You need to be JIRA admin to reach it. See details. From what you have described so far I cannot see why you don't see this great tool. Maybe it has been disabled for some reason.

Check in the manage add-ons (system add-ons) for the Atlassian JIRA - Admin Helper Plugin and make sure all its modules are enabled.

// Svante

Found permission helper. Wow. The things I learn. :)

It's not clear to me how big an issue it is that the watchers field is not populated. The only thing that may not work well are email notifications. I've done this all on my staging JIRA that does not have email enabled. I'll have to move it to production to check that.

I'll plan on that in the next day or two and get back to you.



It is a mystery why the JIRA watcher field is not updated properly. Hope it will be solved in your production environment.

Right next to the Permission Helper you'll find the Notification Helper which is also an awesome tool for trouble-shooting. You should check it out as well!

Good luck with your implementation in production!


// Svante

Do you need to add a list of watchers to a specific issue or you just need all users in a watchers group to be able to see any ticket ?

0 votes


you can setup a specific permission scheme for this project. In particular tyou need to setup "Browse issue" permission just to watcher/reporter and project administrator (if you want that administrators can see all the issue within the project).

Create Issue permission should be set as well in order to allow jira-users to create ticket.

Hope this helps.


I don't see a way to give "Watchers" a specific permission. In "Add New Permission" screen, watchers aren't a group, or a custom field or a role. Maybe I'm missing something.

0 votes

Hi There,

You can use JIRA Issue Security Level for restriciting user to see the tickets. Since the security level can be bound to the custom field, you could create a "User Picker" custom field and set the security level to refer to the users in that custom field. This will make only the users inside the custom field that are able to see the ticket.

For more details, you could check this documentation:

Regards, Julian.

I want to be able to add watchers on a ticket-by-ticket basis. So your first option: add watchers to specific issues, and those watchers will vary from ticket to ticket.

So in that case what @Svante Gustafssonsuggested seems most relevant

This is bad, very bad. The moment you add "Browse Permission" to the user custom field value for the "Watchers" field - regardless of whether it has anything assigned to it, suddenly any user in the system can go to the "View All Projects" screen and list all and any project set up in JIRA. That means if you have a client who logs in they can view all of the company's internal projects and know what the company is working on. We therefore can't use the JIRA Watcher Field plugin.

We're using JIRA 6.2.1.

This is exactly our scenario. We need to enable project visibility to users only if they have the correct permission, but when we add the user custom field value "Watchers" to the "Browse Permission", any user in the system gains the "View All Projects". This is very confusing for our users, even if it doesn't brake the correct project mapping for the "Create" functionality.

Now on JIRA 6.4.12, tested also on a JIRA 7.0.5 instance.

Does anyone know if this issue still exists? Giving a restricted user 'View all projects' rights seems counter initiative to the whole point of the exercise. Our objective is to restrict a user to viewing a single project on tickets that only exist when the user has been added to the watcher field. I assume this is a bug? Can anyone confirm if this is still the situation?

We are using JIRA v7.3.3

@Bobby Collins

I don't believe this is an issue. But JIRA is complex and you have to watch out for it.

We are currently working on only allowing Reporters and Watchers to see the issues they are allowed to see. I'm using this Watchers plugin and I'm getting it to work. Granted Consultants have to use the Edit button to edit the Watchers CF to get it to work. If they use the standard built-in Watchers field they will get an error stating that user to not allowed to be added. (That whole Catch22 that is mentioned above I believe)

My test user, who is locked down, only sees issues where they are a reporter or a watcher of. And I'm bouncing around multiple projects and they see nothing. So, long story, it is possible.

We are not done building this out, but you can do it and I believe I don't have any issues.

we are on 7.7.2

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