Is there a way to convert or update an existing custom picklist to use a global picklist without deleting and recreating it? As most will be aware this cannot be done easily if the field is referenced in code.

In an attempt to find a way I created a global picklist, then a new picklist to use it - then pulled the object down into Eclipse to see if there was any reference to the global picklist. I couldn't see any. I also cannot see any reference in the documentation on how to use the new feature with existing fields:


Salesforce support have confirmed this isn't yet possible. Here are the ideas to vote up:

https://success.salesforce.com/ideaView?id=08730000000cJegAAE . (partially delivered)

https://success.salesforce.com/ideaView?id=0873A000000lLsWQAU (collecting votes to have it fully delivered)

  • Interesting question - I have a few Orgs where there are multiple Picklists with Yes, No type sets of values or multiple objects need a picklist with the same values so I'd be interested to see if anyone has a fix.
    – Dave Humm
    May 25, 2016 at 13:00
  • 2
    Voted for the Idea.
    – Adrian Larson
    May 25, 2016 at 17:49
  • 1
    voted. I thought it was possible so I asked about it on the chatter channel. success.salesforce.com/_ui/core/chatter/groups/… - then I found here you can't. :/ Thanks! Jun 7, 2016 at 21:26
  • 3
    This is a pretty useless feature if you're not able to change existing picklists to use a global picklist. Even more difficult if you're in a managed package where you're not able to delete and recreate the field. I think that for now it's best to not use them at all so you're at least consistent in your code.
    – Semmel
    Jul 19, 2016 at 23:04

2 Answers 2


We have option to do this in salesforce. This feature has been added as part of Summer 2017:

Promote Your Picklist Fields to Global Value Sets

Promote a single picklist field into a global value set by editing your picklist field and clicking Promote to Global Value Set.

Field edit dialog showing the Promote to Global Value Set button.

A new global value set is created, and the promoted field now references it. You can also use the new global value set for other fields.

There are a few limitations to be aware of:

  • You can only promote fields that have fewer than 1,000 values (both active and inactive).
  • You can only promote restricted picklists. If you want to promote an unrestricted picklist, first convert it to a restricted picklist.
  • You cannot promote a field to an existing global value set. But check out this Salesforce Lab App for some help.
  • After a field is promoted, you can’t demote it back.
  • Looks promising, I will try it out.
    – Girbot
    May 25, 2017 at 7:34
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    This this not answer how to modify a picklist field to 'use' an existing global value picklist.
    – JaganY
    Jul 26, 2021 at 15:26
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    The question here is not about promoting an existing picklist to global value set. Rather it asks how to make an existing picklist refer to a global value set instead. That's something even I'm looking for. Sep 13, 2021 at 6:13

There is no way to convert existing pick list to use global pick list. While modifying any pick list on user interface we are not given any option to choose global pick list.

I explored the metadata options as well. I modified field metadata to use


in place of


and deployed the object file. Result was I got an error saying operation is not allowed.

Considering this to be a good feature it would be good if we can raise an idea for same.

  • Agreed - I'll see what I can get from Salesforce support and report back.
    – Girbot
    May 25, 2016 at 15:06

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