How to change custom field types in Jira

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The purpose of this article is to show how you can change the type of an existing Custom Field. An existing request for this to be possible within JIRA has been closed as Won't Fix  JRA-19312 - Getting issue details... STATUS

Migrating Custom Field content to another field using CSV import

Please note this workaround is only applicable if all issues are all in the same project. You can apply this several times for different projects or change it to include project name/key/type to import the project as well.

  1. Create the new Custom Field
  2. Do a JQL search for all issues that are using the other custom field
  3. Export as Excel file with those issues containing only these two columns:
    1. The issue key
    2. The value in the custom field
  4. Open in an Excel editor
    1. Remove the first 3 lines and the last line after the data (so there’s only the header and the data)
    2. Add a ‘Summary’ column with no data in any issue (make sure not to add anything to this column other than name in the header, otherwise the summaries will be replaced for all issues it has a value)
    3. Edit the data to be added in the Custom Field, if needed (for example, if you're moving from a multi-line to a single-line text field, you may need to remove new lines, if it's from text to numeric, make sure there are only numbers, etc.)
    4. Save as CSV
  5. Import the CSV, mapping:
    1. The Summary to Summary (since it’s empty, it won’t do anything, but it’s required)
    2. The issue key to the issue key (so JIRA knows what issues to change)
    3. The value to the new custom field (changing the custom field)

Migrating Custom Field content to another field using bulk operation

This approach is done with the use of bulk edit operations to migrate content manually from one field to another:

(info) Please note this workaround is only applicable when you have many issues containing the same Custom Field value. Performing a bulk operation does not apply if you have many issues, and each issue has a unique Custom Field value.

  1. Create a new Custom Field.
  2. Using Advanced Searching, search for all the occurrences of the old field value.
  3. Using a bulk edit operation, you can populate the new field with the value of the old field for all the issues found using the search in Step 2. If editing of closed issues is disabled, you'll need to Allow editing of Closed Issues.
  4. Repeat this process for all other values that you are migrating to a new field.
  5. Delete the old field, or remove it from the screen scheme.

Changing Custom Field type via the database

This section involves making direct updates to the database that are not recommended by Atlassian.

Atlassian use SQL queries as a last resort for workarounds. Please note that editing the database or any XML backup is not supported by Atlassian.

There have been changes made to several custom fields which may mean this article is outdated and the below instructions may not work for JIRA versions 4.4+

More details on the field changes found here: Plugin Developer Notes for JIRA 4.4 - Single- and Multi-Select Custom Field Changes

Certain fields can be safely upgraded, such as Version and Select Lists to their multiple values counterpart. You can change the "customfieldtypekey" in the "customfield" table to whatever you need it to be. The table below lists the keys for commonly changed fields.

Custom Field Type

Type Key

Single Version


Multi Version


Single Select


Multi Select


Multi User


For Select List, you need to remove the default value in your JIRA before you change the custom field type with the SQL below.

When moving from a Multi-Select List to a Select List, you have to make sure that only one item is selected for each multi select list.

When moving from Multi-Select to a Multi-User, you have to ensure that each select-list value is a username (cwd_user.user_name value).

For Select Lists, you also need to update the "customfieldsearcherkey" field to use an appropriate searcher:

  • For Multi-selects, use "com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:multiselectsearcher"
  • For Select Lists, use "com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:selectsearcher"
  • For Multi-user Pickers, use "com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:userpickersearcher"

Click here to expand for examples...

Always back up your data before performing any modifications to the database. If possible, test any alter, insert, update, or delete SQL commands on a staging server first.

  • If you want to update all Version Custom Fields to be Multiple Version Custom Fields, you can use the SQL below.
UPDATE customfield
    SET customfieldtypekey = 'com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:multiversion'
WHERE customfieldtypekey = 'com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:version'

  • If you wanted to convert Multi-select-list Custom Field to a Multi-user Custom Field, first check that all Custom Field values map to existing users. First, check for any entries that are not mapped to existing users:
select * from customfieldvalue where id=
    (select id from customfield where cfname='multisel3') and
    stringvalue not in (select user_name from cwd_user);
Empty set (0.02 sec)

  • Next, you can change the custom field type:
UPDATE customfield
    SET CUSTOMFIELDTYPEKEY='com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:multiuserpicker',
  where cfname='MyMultiSelect';

  • If you wanted to convert a Text-field Custom Field to a Free-text-field(unlimited text) Custom Field, first you need to change the data type from a stringvalue field to textvalue:
UPDATE customfieldvalue SET textvalue=stringvalue WHERE customfield=(SELECT ID FROM customfield WHERE
customfieldtypekey='com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:textfield' AND cfname='Text Field');
  • Then, change the Custom Field type by updating the customfield table as below:
UPDATE customfield SET CUSTOMFIELDTYPEKEY='com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:textarea', CUSTOMFIELDSEARCHERKEY='com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.customfieldtypes:textsearcher'
where cfname='Text Field';

(info) Any changes to the Custom Field type via the database requires a restart of JIRA and performing a re-index (Administration -> Indexing) to update the search indexes.

Last modified on Apr 30, 2021

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