Microsoft Teams with more than 44 million daily active users is the most widely adopted collaboration tool worldwide. Microsoft Teams numerous features and integration options mean it can be endlessly helpful to your organization.

Teams may seem daunting to get started with. Use this easy Top 10 MS Teams & Tricks guide to help you get to know Microsoft Teams better and assist you in getting more out of Teams today.
In no particular order, here is my version of Microsoft Teams 101 – top ten tips for using Teams.

Tip 1: @Mentions in Microsoft Teams Channels

Microsoft Teams Mentions - MS Teams

@Mentions are key to communication in Teams and should be something that all users should understand.

  • When you use the mention “@Team” in a channel, every team member gets notified
  • When you use “@Channel”, each team member who follows that channel will be notified
  • You can get a team member’s attention in a channel by @username the person in the channel.

You can also send a quick message by chat to a team member without interrupting what you were doing by typing @username in the teams search box to send them a message.

Simply type @ and the persons name in the search box in teams to be able to

Tip 2: Use Your Teams Activity Feed

Microsoft Teams My Activity Feed - MS Teams

Think of the Activity Feed as your new inbox. It aggregates activities – both yours and others’ –  in a single location. It is a summary of everything that’s happened in the channels you are a member of in your Teams account.

If you feel like you’re getting spammed with Teams notifications, this can really help. Use the activities feed to filter your activities by type – for example, unread messages, @mentions, or replies.
When a red circle appears next to ‘“activity”, that means you have a notification in your feed. A notification will remain in your feed for 14 days and then expire. Check out this post to learn more about how to get the most of your activity feed.

Tip 3: Don’t Make Everything “General”

MS Teams Channels - Microsoft Teams COVID19 Information

It may be tempting to keep everything in the General channel of your team, adding tab after tab for each need you come across. But resist! Ultimately, this approach will result in a confusing mess where you can’t find anything.
Instead, use the General channel for high-level team interaction and for every specific topic or function, create a channel. To learn more read this article about setting up channels.

Remember, the more tabs you add to the General channel, the less people will even see them. If you find your general tabs don’t fit in the average screen size, it’s a sign you have too many. Time to move them to new or existing channels.

Tip 4: Easily Schedule & Hold Meetings

Meetings may seem very basic, but this feature is one of my favorites, and it will definitely save you time. You can schedule a meeting directly from a Microsoft Teams chat.

Easily schedule a meeting with the person that you are chatting with.

When you are chatting one-on-one you can easily schedule a meeting with the user by clicking on the calendar icon, which will open up the meeting dialogue with the current user already selected. It will even select the next available slot for both users!

Scheduling meetings from Teams chat only works for one-on-one meetings at this point, but you can also schedule meetings from within a team or channel. Simply click the small camera icon to meet now or you can use the Calendar icon on the right hand side and click on new meeting to schedule a meeting for your self and a channel.

You can schedule a meeting or a live event by clicking on the calendar icon and then clicking on the arrow next to New Meeting

Tip #5: Make Guests Feel Like Part of the Team

Teams makes it easier for your internal team to work together, but it also allows guests – those external to your organization – to collaborate with you too!

If your organization allows it you can add users outside your organization to collaborate with you in Teams.

As long as a guest has an email address, he/she can be added to a Microsoft Team to participate in channels, conversations, chats, and meetings. Guests can also share files in a MS Teams channels, add new channels, and more. You can add and manage guest permissions by clicking the ellipsis (‘…’) next to the MS Team are a member of. 

Make sure that you change Guest users display names so they aren’t just an email address

Tip 6: Take Advantage of Status Updates 

MS Teams Status Message MS Teams Status Notifications
Status updates are a great inbuilt feature of Teams.

We’re all familiar with status messages from other tools such as Skype for Business and MS Outlook. This functionality is also part of Microsoft Teams. Your status update is a great way to display your current status so that other users know when they can and can’t reach out to you.

Plus, using a MS Teams status message means that you’ll know when you should or shouldn’t expect a quick response from your team members. This is an easy way to be a bit more transparent and improve communication, and a practice that you should institute for your organization. Read this post for more details on using your status message.

Tip 7: /Command Bar Shortcuts Save Time

MS Teams Command Bar

In my opinion, one of the most helpful features in Microsoft Teams is the /Command Bar. It allows you to quickly and easily access commands and apps that you have installed. To access the command bar, use the shortcut CTRL+E (Mac: command+E). To see available commands, type ‘/’ into the command bar. (You can also see the commands for specific apps by typing ‘@’ into the command bar. Note that you will have to install the specific app to use the commands for it).

Some of the most useful commands:

  • /keys will display your MS Teams keyboard shortcuts. 
  • /saved takes you straight to your list of bookmarked messages.
  • /files display your recent files and allows you to go to the file you’re looking for.
  • /dnd will set your status to ‘do not disturb’ to suppress notifications when you’re trying to focus or giving a presentation.
  • /goto takes you to a specific MS Team or MS Teams channel.

Tip 8: Save Your Place With Bookmarks

Saving messages for latter viewing is super easy!

If you receive an especially important message that you know you’ll need to reference in the future, bookmark it! A bookmark allows you to save a message or attachment for later reading and helps you find frequently used information.

To add a bookmark to any place in a chat, click the bookmark icon. Then to find your bookmarked chats, Type “/saved” in the search bar to find all your saved messages. Being on a team that handles a variety of different tasks, with a constantly evolving stream of new projects, the bookmark feature has been invaluable to me.

Tip 9: Store & Share Files with SharePoint

Get access to all your files from directly within Teams!

If your organization already uses SharePoint as a collaboration platform and to securely store files, you’ll be happy to learn that it is highly integrated into Microsoft Teams. This allows you to collaborate more quickly and easily with your team.

Simply click the “Files” tab in any channel to share files with MS Team members via SharePoint or access SharePoint files already shared with the channel. Team members can collaborate on files shared with a channel using Office Online or an Office desktop app.

Tip 10: Work Together Across Devices

It’s a safe bet these days to assume that your MS Team is probably not all seated in the same office space in front of a computer all day long. You may have Teams members based in a home office, some working remotely from laptops, and some who mainly work via a smartphone or tablet.

Microsoft Teams allows your team to collaborate no matter what device they have access to. All Microsoft 365 subscriptions give users access to web, desktop, and mobile apps. Teams mobile app is available for Android, iOS and Windows Mobile. It focuses on team chats and channels without a lot of extra layers and features. Microsoft Teams also run as a web app or a desktop client for Windows or Mac, meaning you have a lot of options for access.

Further Microsoft Teams – Getting Started Reading

There are many great resources on Microsoft Teams best practices, including this site – check them out here. Plus…

Getting Started with Teams – Microsoft

How to Set Up Teams – How-To Geek

Microsoft Teams Cheat Sheet – TechRepublic

Microsoft Teams 101: Final Thoughts

It takes a little care and effort to get it set up, but once your organization is comfortable using Microsoft Teams you’ll find that it makes communicating and collaborating much easier and simpler.

If you follow our guide for Microsoft Teams for the Rest of Us, and then make use of these Microsoft Teams as part of your COVID-19 Communications Strategy, your path to smooth communication and collaboration is clear!

I hope these tips help you find the best way to use Teams with your team. Thanks for reading! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions or additional helpful tips for using MS Teams.