Teams: 20 Tips and tricks

Most of use have been working from home for months and use Teams on a daily basis. Working remotely can be challenging especially if you just started working with Teams. The following 20 tips and tricks should help you get more out of Teams even if you are an experience user.

This blog post is an extension of the older Teams: Tips and tricks post.

The tips and tricks

  1. Pin favorite chats
  2. Pop out chat
  3. Pop out list
  4. Use mentions in chat messages
  5. Turn on do not disturb
  6. Create rich-text messages
  7. Send urgent chat message
  8. Save / bookmark a post for later
  9. Mute a chat
  10. Slash commands
  11. Shortcuts
  12. Expand tabs
  13. Send an email to a channel
  14. Change the order of the teams
  15. Hide teams or channels
  16. Pin a channel
  17. Record meetings
  18. Mark messages as read
  19. Mark messages as unread
  20. Change channel notifications

Pin favorite chats

By default, the most recent chats are shown under chats. This means that all the chats with users and your meetings are mixed together. This can be a bit confusing since is changes all the time. You can pin frequent conversations to the top of your chat list, to create a clear and use full overview.

  • Open the chats in Teams.
  • Click on the … or right click on the chat you want to pin.
  • Click on Pin.
  • The pinned chats will be grouped above the recent chats.

Pop out chat

When working with Teams you might feel stuck with one screen, but this is not the case. When you hover over one of your chats, you’ll see the Pop out icon. Choose that option and the chat will be opened in a new pop out window.

Pop out chat window screenshot

Pop out list

When working in Teams you might feel stuck with one screen, but this is not the case. You can pop out a connected SharePoint list.

  • Select the pop out icon.

Use mentions in chat messages

To make sure a specific colleague in a group chat or channel reads your message, use the mention option.

  • In a chat window type @ and fill in or select the correct colleague.
@mention with suggested people

Turn on do not disturb

Constant messages and alerts are a productivity killer when you’re trying to focus. You can turn off those messages by enabling the do not disturb mode. 

  • Click in teams on your profile picture.
  • Click on the > next to the current availability.
  • Select Do not disturb.

Create rich-text messages

Some messages need rich formatting to be more effective. In a chat message click on the format icon for all the options.

Format a message in Teams.

Send urgent chat message

If you need an immediate reply on a message, tag the message as urgent.
The recipient will get notifications every two minutes for the next 20 minutes or until it’s read.

Save / bookmark a post for later

No time to read an important post? Save the message to make sure it does not get lost. Use the slash command /saved to access all the saved messages.

  • Click on the … of a message and select Save this message.

Mute a chat

Chat messages from meetings can be a bit noisy, mute them if you are not involved in the conversation. When you mute a chat, you’ll still be included in the conversation, but won’t get notifications from it. 

  • Click on the … of the chat and select Mute.

Slash commands

Slash commands are command you use in the search bar and all start with you quested it a / (slash). These commands will help you be as efficiency as possible.

  • Type / in the search box to see all the available commands.

Shortcuts

Microsoft Teams has a lot of useful shortcuts. Use the slash command /keys to see all the options.

Expand tabs

Most tabs can be expanded to focus on the content and hide the navigation.

  • Click on the expand icon, the two arrows.
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Send an email to a channel

If you want to send an email to a channel in Teams, you can use the channel email address. Once an email is part of a channel, anyone can reply to it to start a conversation.

  • Click on the … of the channel and select Get email address.
  • Click on copy in the popup window.

Change the order of the teams

The order of the teams can be changed, simply drag and drop the teams in the preferred order.

Image of teams list

Hide teams or channels

If you don’t want a team or channel to show in your teams list, because you almost never use it you can hide it.

  • Click on the … of the channel or team and select Hide.

Pin a channel

Pin your favorite channels for fast and easy access. Pinned channels stay at the top of the list so you don’t have to hunt them down.

  • Click on the … of the channel and select Pin.

Record meetings

Recording meetings can be incredibly helpful. You can watch the discussions, find out what the decisions where, listen to the training again or watch a meeting you missed (recorded by someone else).

  • During a meeting click on the … followed by Start recording.

Mark messages as read

Chat messages from meetings or chat conversions you did not take part in or from a while back might not be that interesting. You can simply mark them all as read and ignore them.

  • Click on the … of the chat and select Mark as unread.

Mark messages as unread

In Teams you can mark a message as unread so you can come back to it later. Use the slash command /unread to see all the unread messages.

  • Click on the … of the channel and select Mark as unread.

Change channel notifications

Not all channels are equally important. Reduce the notification noise by customizing the notifications for specific channels.

  • Click on the … of a channel.
  • Click on the > next to the Channel notifications.
  • Select the preferred option.

Office 365: Lists

Lists in Office 365 is a powerful tool and it integrates perfectly in Teams or your personal OneDrive. You can use one of the list templates provide by Microsoft or create your own. The best way to use Lists is with Teams, then you can work together in real time with conversation and lists side by side. Track what matters most to your team using rules, reminders, and comments.

The bonus is that you can also create a Power App directly from the list. Now you can really use the list anywhere and anytime. The Power App can also be connected to the Team for easy access.

Lists in Teams

  • Add a Tab in Teams and select the List and click on save.
  • Create a new list.
  • You can use a template or create a blank list.
  • Click on the Work progress tracker template and click on Use template.
  • Fill in the name and description.
  • You have now create the List in Teams.

List with Power App in Teams

Its very easy to create a Power App based on a list. This Power App can also be added to Teams to be as productive as possible.

  • Navigate and open the Work progress tracker list.
  • Open the list in SharePoint, this is the SharePoint site that is connected to the Team.
  • Click on Power Apps and Create an app.
  • Note that you can also create a Power Automate Flow for the list.
  • Fill in the name of the Power App and click on Create.
  • The app will be created, this process takes a few moments.
  • If required, you can change the Power App.
  • In this example I don’t change the Power App.
  • Navigate to the Team and add a Tab.
  • Find the Power App and click on Save.
  • You can now use the Power App in Teams.

Lists in OneDrive

  1. Open Lists and click on New.
  2. Select a template or create a blank list.

3. Select the Work progress tracker and click on Use template.
4. Fill in the name and description.
5. The Save to location for your OneDrive is My lists.

Office 365: What’s new?

The updates for Office 365 keep coming and coming, Microsoft is not sitting still! I am very excited for the following new features. Note that some of these features are already live, being rolled out or still being developed.

Teams: New meeting experience

With the latest Teams update you can turn on the new meeting experience. Meetings and calls will than open in separate windows. Giving you the option to drag a meeting to a different screen and keep working with Teams on your second screen.

The meeting controls are moved to the top of the meeting screen and are always showing, always out of the way of the shared content and video.

The Large gallery view lets you see up to 49 video streams at once. This only works with 10 or more attendees who are sharing video.

I also want to highlight an older feature that most people don’t know about. That is the ability to zoom in on the shared content. Unable to read what the presenter is showing? Zoom into the content by pressing the Control-key and spinning the mouse scroll wheel.

With Contextual Search in Microsoft Teams you can find information very faster. You can search for content in a specific channel or chat by pressing CTRL + F. Search results will only contain messages and files found in the selected chat or channel!

Yammer: New experience is available worldwide

The new experience for Yammer is available worldwide! In my other blog post you can read about the new features.

Search: New user experience

Microsoft gave a preview of the new search user experience. We will be able to create our own vertical (similar to scopes) and filters. The verticals are in preview, so you might be able to use them already.

Office 365: New Features

Microsoft is working hard to update Office 365 by adding new features and improving the overall user experience. I am very excited for the following new features. Note that some of these features are already live, being rolled out or still being developed.

Teams

The number of participants who can be viewed simultaneously in a meeting is now nine. This is a great update; this will help the meetings to go smoother.

You can now raise a hand in teams. By virtual raising your hand, you can signal to the speaker or organizer that you want to speak.

  • During a Teams meeting go to the options bar.
  • Click on the hand icon.

In Teams you can now instantly pop out your chat into a separate window! But thats not all you can also, resize, reposition, or close the window as you wish. You can pop out multiple conversations at the same time.

  • Click on the pop out icon to pop out the chat.
Pop out chat button screenshot

Modern Lists

Modern Lists has been announced, at this moment it is unknown when it will be released. With Modern Lists the platform will reach a new level of flexibility and maturity, the possibilities seem endless.

Yammer

The new Yammer is in public preview and it looks great. I listed a few of my favorites below. You can find all the details in the Microsoft announcement.

  • You can now pin your favorite communities (formerly known as groups) to the navigation for quick access.
  • The integration with Outlook, Teams and SharePoint has been update and works smoother.
  • You can brand Yammer with your company logo!
  • Posts can now be reported to make it easier to moderate your communities.
  • You can now search and filter easier.

Sensitivity labels for SharePoint and OneDrive

Sensitivity labels from the Microsoft Information Protection framework let you classify and protect your organization’s data, while making sure that user productivity and their ability to collaborate is not hindered. When the sensitivity label are created and associate protection policies like encryption and visual marking, then your end users simply label their important documents and emails. You can find all the details in the Microsoft announcement.

SharePoint Term Store

The SharePoint Term Store is being updated and one of the changes is now visible. The user interface has been modified to look cleaner and is easier to use. When you want to create more terms you will need to switch to the classical view. You can do this by clicking on the link called Return to classic.

Teams: Tips and tricks

With so many people working from home the need to stay connected is stronger than ever. Meeting online is a bit different, but with a few tips and tricks you will almost forget that you are not in the same room.

Be inclusive and use your video

Turn on your camera if your internet connection allows it. Now people can not only hear you but also see your facial expressions.

  • You can turn on/off your video before you join a meeting.
  • Click on the slider next to the video icon.
  • You can also turn on/off the video during a meeting.
  • Click on the video button.

Blur your background

In formal meetings the general advice is to blur your background. This will create a more official setting. For informal meetings this is less important and it might even stir up interesting conversation or create a more relax atmosphere.

  • Just before you join a meeting, you can activate the blur option.
  • Turn on the blur option and select a background.
  • You can also activate the blur function during a meeting.
  • Click on the …
  • Then on Show background effects (blur).

Custom blurred backgrounds

It is possible to add your own backgrounds. Simply open the setting Show background effects and upload an image.

Mute your microphone

Mute your microphone when you are joining a larger meeting. Only activate you microphonewhen you want to speak. This way there will be less ambient noise and the meeting will proceede more fluid.

  • You can mute/unmute your microphone before you join a meeting.
  • Click on the slider next to the microphone icon.
  • You can also mute/unmute your microphone during a meeting.
  • Click on the microphone icon.

Sharing content

With teams you can share content from your computer. There are many options for sharing content. You can share the whole desktop or a specific window. My advice is to close all windows that you don’t want to share and then share the whole desktop. In most meetings you want to share multiple things and switching between sharing option generates unnecessary disturbances.

Teams across Mobile platforms

Teams is available on multiple mobile platforms. You can access your files and meetings any ware anytime. This means that you can also join a meeting while sitting in the garden or on the couch.

SharePoint Teams: Link web part

A new Link web part has been added to the Team sites. With this web part you can add a link (website) to  a page to create a link that displays information about the linked page.
The web part will create a clickabe tile that contains a title, description and a picture if possible of the linked page. The look and feel is the same as linking a web page in Slack or WhatsApp.

Solution

  1. Open the home page of a teamsite
  2. Set the page in the edit mode
  3. Click on the plus icon and click on the Link web part
  4. Provide the web part with a hyperlink and press enter. The web part will resolve the hyperlink and show some information of the website.
  5. Click on the X next to the hyperlink to hide the hyperlink and save the changes