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How do I remove a subtask from its parent issue?

I wrongly added a subtask to a parent issue.  How do I remove the subtask?

I would really like to delete the subtask entirely but probably don't have permission (impossible to tell for sure with this UI since menus that I can't use just don't show so I'm left wondering if I'm looking in right place but don't have permission or looking in wrong place).

But even if I can't delete the subtask, I  should be able to remove it from association with its parent task. There is a "+" button near the Subtasks label in the parent issue, but no corresponding "-".  Nor can I find any other way to remove the association.

4 answers

2 accepted

3 votes
Answer accepted
Jack Community Leader Apr 22, 2019

you can convert the sub-task to an issue and then do what you want with it, mark Done or work as an independent task/issue. As Joseph said, deleting an issue is not a great idea. I won't say never but unless there is a real compelling reason and care/thought is given then don't.


This is 4 steps, which is a lot.

Like # people like this
Jack Community Leader Sep 16, 2020

What would be a better method?

One step with reasonable defaults that can be optionally edited -- i.e. assume it is < story points than parent task (2 by default?) & still part of same sprint.

Jack Community Leader Sep 16, 2020

oh sorry. i thought you had an idea of a better method. :-)

Maybe a suggestion made to Atlassian would be in order. With that said, for me anyway, this is a rare or occasional task at best so it wouldn't make the top of my long list.

4 steps are only a lot if they are long or confusing or difficult ... or done often.  In this cases I agree with Jack, this is rare.  The steps seem clear (once I know where to start, which was the trouble). In fact the steps illuminate choices one has when moving a sub-task. 

Personally, I would like to see a "-" to go with the "+" that is on the subtasks list of the parent task.  If someone accidentally adds a subtask, the "-" would be an obvious "undo of the + operation".  It could directly invoke the current 4-step "move" or "convert to issue" menu item.

Like # people like this

Agree with Steve that knowing where to start is a bigger issue than the number of steps.  I had to Google to land here and discover how to accomplish this at all. Not only is Convert to Issue ... hidden, but it was not obvious to me that it was equivalent to what I wanted to do (which I was phrasing in my head as "detach from parent task" or "promote to Task").

Like Paul McKinley likes this

Fred nails the essence of my most frequent problem using Atlassian tools.  The phrasing in my head does not match the choices I'm given so I don't find what I need.  In this case Fred's menus would have been much more obvious to me!    I'm sure I've  done my share of making menus that reflect the developer point of view rather than the user point of view.

Like Paul McKinley likes this
2 votes
Answer accepted

I think some of the user flow may have changed in JIRA since answers were last posted to this question. I was trying to figure out how to make a subtask into a task, and what worked for me was to

  1. choose 'move' from the options on the ticket screen
  2. On the next screen, I can convert it to a different type

Hope this helps someone!

Jack Community Leader May 29, 2020

yep it has indeed changed and Move is the ticket! :-)

0 votes

Sub-tasks must always have a parent, and I won't repeat the rest of Joe's answer.

But there is one other option, if you have "move" permission in the project, then try moving the sub-task.  One of the options that process will offer you is "change parent", so you can flip the sub-task over on to another issue.

0 votes
Joe Pitt Community Leader Apr 22, 2019

Subtasks have to have a parent so you can't break the connection except promoting it to a normal issue if you have that permission.  If you can't do that I would close it. 

Do not delete issues. When you delete it is GONE. Hardly a week goes by without someone wanting to restore an issue. Deleting issues will come back and bite you when it is the most inconvenient. I suggest closing with a resolution value of Deleted anything you want to delete. I implement a special transition only the project lead can execute and it requires filling in a reason field from a select list (such as entered in error, OBE, Duplicate, Other) and explanation text.

Deleting issues destroys historical data. Missing issue numbers will eventually cause a question about what it was and why was it deleted even if it was done properly. Missing data always brings in the question of people hiding something that may have looked bad.


The only viable way to restore an issue is to create a new instance of JIRA and restore a backup that has the issues. Then export them to a csv file and import them to your production instance. You will lose the history.

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