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30 Advanced Tips for Becoming a Microsoft Teams Power User

A complete guide to Microsoft’s competitor to Slack

Microsoft Teams GUI with Labels
Illustration by the author.

Microsoft Teams is a communication platform much like Slack that combines one on one & team chat, video meetings, and file storage. Teams also has a number of application integrations that can be used to expand your Teams experience. The service integrates with the Microsoft 365 subscription office suite and can integrate with non-Microsoft products. Microsoft Teams is a competitor to Slack and is the upgrade path from Skype.

Teams allows you to communicate and share just about anything in one specified location. Chat with your team, share documents, link Planner boards, and host meetings all from one place.

You can quickly ask a question to an entire team and get a fast response from the first available colleague, share a file with your team and keep it in a secure location where new team members can access the file, the possibilities are endless.

Teams and Channels

Microsoft Teams structure showing organization at the top followed by teams followed by channels
Microsoft Teams Structure

A “team” is a group of people that will communicate, share content, and access apps based on different projects within your organization. Teams can be private so only invited users can see the team. Public teams are those that anyone in your organization can join.

A team can be created for project-based work or based on the departments in your organization. Another option is to create a team based on office locations. Once a team is formed conversations, files, and other apps shared with the team are only accessible to the team members.

Every team is broken into “channels.” Channels are where you can chat, share files with the team, and more. When you create a team, a General channel will automatically be created.

1. Use Teams in Your Browser, Windows, Mac, and Mobile Phone App

How often does this happen: You’re collaborating with someone chatting it up then, boom, it’s time for you to go somewhere else. Teams is perfect because you can move from your desktop app to the smartphone app seamlessly, allowing you to keep the conversation going while you’re on the go.

Access Teams via a web browser

The web app is available online. Simply go to the website and login with your Office 365 account.

Access Teams via Windows desktop app

Teams desktop app can be downloaded by going to the website and clicking “Download for desktop.”

Access Teams via Android or iPhone

The Microsoft Teams app can also be found from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Microsoft Teams Google Play App
Microsoft Teams app in Google Play Store

Access Teams via Mac

  1. From the Teams download page, click Download located under Mac.
  2. Double click the PKG file to begin the installation.
  3. Follow the wizard to complete the installation.
  4. Teams will be installed in the /Applications folder as a machine-wide installation.

2. Search Across All Your Conversations

The more you use Teams the more content you’ll store. It will become your go-to place for everything. The structure of Teams has unlimited options. If you’re human, you’ll forget where you read that important conversation! Fortunately, Microsoft has built in a fantastic search.

Microsoft Teams withe search bar circled
Microsoft Teams Search

Type your search in the search box in the top and press Enter. The search results will appear in the left pane. Jump to People or Files by using the tabs at the top.

Microsoft Teams search results
Microsoft Teams Search Results with Tabs Circled

For more advanced searches in messages, you can use the built-in Keyword Query Language (KQL). Below are the keywords that Teams supports. Note: there’s no space between the colon and the search terms.

  • “From:Then” enter the person’s name
  • “In:Then” enter the channel or group chat name
  • “Subject:The” keyword from a message or a subject line
  • “Sent:The” date the message was sent

The search feature isn’t just a simple find in Teams. It’s been overloaded with commands. To view the list of available commands type “/” into the search bar.

Microsoft Teams search commands
Microsoft Teams Search Commands

3. Reach People or Groups with @mentions

Typically, work involves waiting for approvals or for someone else to complete a part of the project before you can move forward. When you want to notify a person or group, tags let you quickly @mention a person or specific group of people. When a person or group is tagged in Teams, they’ll receive a notification.

Everyone in your organization will automatically have a tag. Simply type “@” then start typing the person or group’s name and select the person from the drop-down that appears. They will then get a notification.

Microsoft Teams @mentions
Suggestions appear when you begin typing a name after the @ symbol

Create a tag within a team

1. Right-click a team name, then select Manage tags to create your first tag.

Microsoft Teams Manage tags button
Manage tags from right-clicking on a team

2. Click Create tag.

Microsoft Teams Create tag button

3. Enter your tag name, select the people that will be notified when the tag is used then click Create.

Microsoft Teams create a new tag form
Microsoft Teams create a new tag

4. Say More With Less Using Emojis and Gifs

Emojis and Gifs are a fun and easy way to communicate with Teams conversations. They’re fun and serious at the same time. You can respond to a message using an emoji or gif by hovering over the message then click one of the emojis.

Microsoft Teams emojies
Response emojis within Microsoft Teams

You can also respond with emojis by starting a reply then clicking the smiley face under the textbox.
Microsoft Teams emojis button circled
Add emoji to a response in Microsoft Teams

You can also use Gifs by clicking the GIF button next to the emoji button in replies and new conversations.

Microsoft Teams Gif button circled
Add Gif to a conversation or reply

5. Disable Notifications

Keep notifications to a minimum to avoid distractions. Only get notified on the channels and messages you want to get notified.

To update Channel notifications

  1. Hover over the channel you want to update.
  2. Click the ellipsis (…) next to the channel.
  3. Click Channel notifications.
  4. Click the All activity, Off, or Custom option to update your notification settings.
Microsoft Teams change channel notifications button
Microsoft Teams Channel Notification Options


Keep notifications in the app by selecting Only show in feed. All notifications will be sent to your activity feed. The activity feed can be found in the top left corner of Teams. The app will still show notifications inside your desktop taskbar, but won’t show the pop-up.

By selecting Banner and feed you’ll receive notifications as an alert in your activity feed, as well as, a desktop notification. On Windows, the notifications will show in the bottom right corner of your screen. On macOS, they will show up in the top right corner.

To update your global notifications

Microsoft has also made you global notifications configurable.

1. Click your profile image in the top right corner.

2. Click Settings.

Microsoft Teams user settings button
Teams Profile Settings

3. Click Notifications.

Microsoft Teams user notifications
Teams Settings Notifications

6. Remember to Follow Up by Saving the Message

With instant communication sometimes you get bogged down. You need to save things and come back to them later. Meet “Save this message.” Saved messages will show up in your saved list.

How to save a message for later

  1. Hover the message and then click the ellipsis (…).
  2. Click Save this message.
Microsoft Teams save this message
How to save a message for later in Microsoft Teams

How to view saved messages

  1. Type /Saved in the search box at the top of Teams and press Enter.
Microsoft Teams /saved command

You’ll be able to see your saved searches in the left pane.

Microsoft Teams saved messages
Microsoft Teams Saved Messages

How to remove a message from the saved messages

  1. In the Saved column in the left pane click the banner in the top right of the message you want to remove from the saved messages.
Microsoft Teams unsave message button
Microsoft Teams Remove Message from Saved Messages

7. Keyboard Shortcuts

When you start to live in an app like Microsoft Teams keyboard shortcuts become a priority. Below is the list of keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Teams on your Windows computer.

Microsoft Teams keyboard shortcuts
Microsoft Teams keyboard shortcut keys

8. Create an Organization-Wide Team

Sometimes you need to communicate with the entire organization. Teams is a great place to have an organization-wide communication channel. With an organization-wide team, the team will automatically be updated when you add or remove users to your Office 365 tenant.

How to create an organization-wide team

1. Go to your Teams list.

2. Click Join or create a team in the bottom left corner of Microsoft Teams.

3. Click Create a team.

Microsoft Teams create a new team
Teams create a team button

4. Click Build a team from scratch.

Microsoft Teams create a team form
Build a team from scratch button

5. Click Org-wide.

Microsoft Teams create an org-wide team
Build an org-wide team

6. Enter your team name then click Create.

Microsoft Teams create a team form
Name your org-wide team

You now have a team that includes all your users (except guest users)!

9. Email to a Team Channel

Have you ever wanted to email a team? Now you can! By getting the email address of the team you can add it to the To, CC, or BCC line of an email and email the team directly from Outlook.

How to get the email address of a channel

  1. Hover the channel then click the ellipsis (…) next to the channel. Click Get email address.
Microsoft Teams channel get email address
Get the email address of a Microsoft Teams channel

2. Click the Copy button. Open Outlook and paste the email address.

Microsoft Teams channel copy email address
Textbox showing the email address of a Microsoft Teams channel

From the advanced setting, you can limit who can email the Teams channel.

3. Click advanced settings. Select who you want to be able to email the channel. Click Save.

Microsoft Teams email address security
Microsoft Teams email a channel advanced settings

10. Share and Sync Files to Your Desktop

Files can be shared directly with your team in the channel. Once shared everyone with current access or future access to the channel will be able to access the files.

How to upload files to a channel

To upload a file to a channel simply drag and drop the file to the conversation. As an alternate, you can click the attachment icon under the textbox and then click Upload from my computer.

Microsoft Teams upload from my computer
Microsoft Teams Upload from my computer

How to access files

Microsoft Teams files in convsation
Teams Files in Chat

You can access the files directly in the conversation. If you need to access the files in the future you can go to the Files tab.

Microsoft Teams files tab
Teams Access Files

Once you have files being shared with your team you can sync them using OneDrive!

How to sync the files from a Microsoft Teams Teams to your computer

  1. From the channel click Files at the top then click Sync.
Microsoft Teams sync files
Microsoft Teams sync button

2. When prompted click Start sync.

Microsoft Teams sync files form
Microsoft Teams Files Sync

11. Host a Teams Meeting

Sometimes text messaging back and forth isn’t enough. Sometimes we simply need a voice and video call. But wait, there’s more! You can also share your screen, an application, or a free-hand drawing whiteboard.

Scheduling a meeting can be done in Teams or Outlook.

To schedule a meeting through Outlook

  1. Open a calendar appointment
  2. Click Teams Meeting in the Meeting ribbon.
  3. View the details that were added to the meeting.
Microsoft Teams create a teams meeting appointment in Outlook
Microsoft Teams Outlook Meeting

Schedule a meeting from Teams

1. From Teams click Calendar.

2. Click New meeting.

Microsoft Teams create a new meeting
Microsoft Teams Create New Meeting

3. Fill out the form.

4. Click Send.

Microsoft Teams meeting form
Microsoft Teams Meeting Form

Join Meeting

When the time comes to meet you can join the meeting right from Outlook!

  1. In the appointment reminder, click Join Online.
Microsoft Teams Outlook appointment reminder join online button circled

When joining the meeting you can enable video, background effects, and mute your mic. Then click Join now and you’ll be in the meeting.

Microsoft Teams joining meeting controls
Teams Meeting Options

Controls inside a meeting

Once inside the meeting, you can manage your sharing and options from the meetings toolbar.

Microsoft Teams meeting interface
Microsoft Teams meeting interface
Microsoft Teams meeting buttons


Microsoft Teams meeting sharing button
Toggle Sharing Bar

By clicking the toggle sharing bar button you’ll open the sharing bar. From the sharing bar, you can share your screen, an application, or a free drawing whiteboard.

Microsoft Teams meeting sharing bar


By sharing a whiteboard you can take notes, draw or create sticky notes all during the meeting while sharing your whiteboard with everyone in the meeting. The whiteboard is a great way to run productive, engaging remote meetings with your team.

Microsoft Teams whiteboard
Microsoft Teams whiteboard

Simply use the controls at the top left to draw on the whiteboard or use the textbox / sticky notes buttons to write text or create a sticky note where you can write text.

Raise Hand

Microsoft Teams raise hand button

During a Microsoft Teams meeting, you or someone else in the meeting can use the Raise hand button to get the speaker’s attention. That way a participant can get the presenter’s attention without interrupting the meeting. Once participants have been acknowledged, they can use the raise hand button to lower their hand or the meeting host can lower a participant’s hand on their behalf.

Microsoft Teams meeting with raised hand
Microsoft Teams Meeting Showing User with Hand Raised

12. Rich Text Conversations

By default, starting conversations and replying to conversations appears to only handle plain text. But it doesn’t have to be. The button to the furthest left below the textbox is the format button.

Microsoft Teams rich text button
Format Button Located under the textbox.

By clicking the format button, you can expand the textbox to be the rich text editor.

Microsoft Teams rich text dialog
Microsoft Teams Rich Text Editor

From there you can use the formatting buttons to format your text, add a subject line, or edit who can reply to the conversation and more.

13. Add Tabs to Channels

Tabs are a great way to add quick links to important information and connect your team to it easily. You can add a SharePoint library, Excel or Word document, OneNote, Planner, and many third-party applications.

Microsoft Teams add a tab
Microsoft Teams Tab Apps

How to add a tab to a channel

Microsoft Teams add a tab
Microsoft Teams Add Tab to Channel
  1. Select “+” at the top of the channel.
  2. Choose a tab and follow the steps to add it.

Once added the tab will show at the top of the channel.

Note: To turn an office file into a tab, you must upload it to the team's Files tab or you can attach it to a message in the chat which will upload the file automatically. Once you pick your app (for example, Excel) you’ll be shown files for you to select.

14. Add an App to Your Teams App

Apps are a bit different than tabs. Tabs are shared with your team/channel. While apps are only for you individually.

You can view your apps in the left-most pane. To see additional apps, click the ellipsis.

Microsoft Teams view hidden apps
View Hidden apps in Microsoft Teams

To see what other apps are available to download click More apps > in the bottom right corner of the more apps window.

In the Apps menu, click Personal apps in the left pane.

Microsoft Teams personal apps
Personal Apps from Microsoft Teams Store

15. Add Connectors for Channel Notifications

Get automatic updates from your favorite services like Bing News, RSS feeds, Twitter, and more, sent directly to the channel of your choice by using Connectors.

Microsoft Teams Connector
Microsoft Teams Connectors

Add Connector to a Channel

  1. Click the ellipsis next to the channel.
  2. Click Connectors.
Microsoft Teams add a connector button
How to Add Connectors to a Channel

3. Click the Add button next to the connector you want to add.

Microsoft Teams add connector button
Teams add a connector to channel

4. Review the description highlighted yellow below. Once you’re sure this is the connector you want, click Add.

Microsoft Teams RSS Connector with Description highlighted and Add button circled
Teams RSS Connector with Description highlighted and Add button circled

16. Name a Group Chat

Your recent chats can get overwhelmed quickly especially if your team uses them to chat with multiple people at a time. When you’re in a chat with multiple people you can name the chat to make it more easily found in the chat list.

How to name a chat

  1. Click the group chat to view the messages.
  2. Click the pencil in the top of the group chat
Microsoft Teams name a group chat
Name a group chat in Teams

3. Type the name of the chat and click save.

Microsoft Teams name a group chat form
Name a group chat in Teams page 2

17. Turn Chats into Calls

When text isn’t doing it, you can easily turn your chats into audio/video calls. Once you start a call everyone in the chat will have an audio notification until they join the call.

  1. Click the chat to view the messages
  2. Click the video or call button in the top right of the chat.
Microsoft Teams call buttons
Teams chat into calls buttons

The people you are calling will receive the ring, as well as, a pop-up notification informing them you are calling.

Microsoft Teams call notification
Microsoft Teams call notification

18. View Team and Channel Analytics

Microsoft Teams channel analytics
Microsoft Teams Channel Analytics over 90 Days

Team & channel metrics are now available. Now users can see metrics like the total number of posts and replies for each team and channel for the last 90 days

How to access team analytics

  1. From your teams’ list, click the ellipsis (…) then select Manage team.
Microsoft Teams manage team button
Manage team menu in Microsoft Teams

2. Click the Analytics tab at the top of the management window.

Microsoft Teams analytics tab
Teams analytics filters

How to access channel analytics

  1. From your teams’ list, click the ellipsis (…) next to a channel then select Manage channel.
Microsoft Teams with Manage channel button circled
Manage channel menu in Microsoft Teams

2. Click the Analytics tab at the top of the management window.

Microsoft Teams screenshot showing analytics tab clicked
Teams analytics tabs

19. Update the Team Icon

The colored background with a letter isn’t very descriptive. Fortunately, we can give our teams a unique icon. It helps users identify the team easier while navigating their countless teams.

How to add an image to a team icon

  1. Click the ellipsis (…) next to the team you want to update and click Manage team.
Microsoft Teams manage team button
Open team settings

2. Go to the Settings tab. Expand Team picture. Click Change Picture.

Microsoft Teams change team
Change team picture

3. Click Upload picture. Select the image on your computer that you want to use for the team. Select Save and close the menu.

Microsoft Teams upload form
Upload team picture

20. Filter the Activity Feed to Get What’s Most Important

The activity feed is specific for you and keeps you up to date on the latest communication. Filtering by unread, @mentions, or seven other options lets you separate your @mentions from the group mass messages and focus on the key conversations.

How to Filter the activity feed

  1. Click activity in the top left corner.
  2. Click the filter button at the top of the navigation pane.
Microsoft Teams activity feed filter
Microsoft Teams Activity Filter Button

3. Click the ellipsis (…) next to the filter textbox.

4. Click the type of filter you want to use, for example, @mentions.

Microsoft Teams filter activity by mentions
Microsoft Teams filter by @mentions

21. Mark Messages as Unread to Come Back \Later

Sometimes you read a message, then want the message to be marked unread to remind you to come back later. In Microsoft Teams It’s easy.

How to mark a message as unread

  1. With the mouse, hover over the message you want to mark as unread.
  2. Click the ellipsis (…) in the top right corner.
  3. Click Mark as unread.
Microsoft Teams mark message as unread
Microsoft Teams mark message as unread

22. Hide Messages by Setting Yourself to Do Not Disturb

Need to stop the noise and stay focused? Just set your status to Do not disturb and prevent distractions so you can get work done.

How to set do not disturb

  1. Click your icon in the top right corner.
  2. Click Available in the dropdown.
  3. Click Do not disturb.
Microsoft Teams set status to do not disturb
Microsoft Teams enable do not disturb

23. Work Across Languages by Translating a Message

Working with a team that speaks a different language? It isn’t a problem when you’re using Teams. You can easily translate a message in Microsoft Teams.

How to translate a message in Teams

  1. Hover the mouse over the message you want to translate.
  2. Click the ellipsis (…)
  3. Click Translate.
Microsoft Teams translate chat
Translate a message in Microsoft Teams

24. Follow up on a Message

Sometimes someone may ask you to do something but you’re in the middle of something else. You’ll need a reminder for the message.

That’s where Microsoft Power Automate comes into play. With a specialized flow, you can set and receive reminders for a message.

How to set up the follow-up flow

  1. Go to the website.
  2. Login to Office 365 if required.
  3. Click Continue.
Microsoft Teams follow up on a message
Set up follow up Flow

4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save.

Microsoft Teams follow up on a message flow
Save the follow-up flow

How to use flow

  1. Hover your mouse over the message you want to be reminded of.
  2. Click the ellipsis (…) in the top right corner.
  3. Click More actions.
  4. Click Follow up on a message.
Microsoft Teams follow up on a message button
Use Follow up Flow

5. Select a time you want to be reminded in.

6. Click Submit.

Microsoft Teams follow up on a message form
Set time duration to follow-up time

When the reminder goes off, you’ll receive a chat message from the flow with a link to the message.

Microsoft Teams follow up on a message reminder
Follow up Flow reminder

25. Organize Your Teams and Channels

All your teams and channels aren’t equal. Some of them will become your go-to almost every time you open Teams. To make it easier to find the teams you want you can simply drag and drop the teams to the order you want them in. Once complete, every time you open Teams, they’ll be in the order you set them in.

Microsoft Teams sort teams
Sorting teams with drag and drop

To give you more control of your teams’ list, channels can be pinned to the top of the list.

How to pin a channel to the top of the teams’ list

  1. Hover your mouse over the channel you want to pin.
  2. Click the ellipsis (…) next to the channel.
  3. Click Pin.
Microsoft Teams pin channel
How to pin a channel in Microsoft Teams

26. Get Noticed Immediately with Urgent Chat Messages

Microsoft Teams urgent message
Microsoft Teams Urgent Message

Sometimes, you need to send an urgent message to someone. The type of message that gets someone’s attention. The type of message that continues to alert someone until they acknowledge the message. Introducing urgent messages. An urgent message will notify the recipient every two minutes for 20 minutes. It’s a great (albeit annoying) way to send a critical message to someone so use it sparingly.

How to send an urgent message

  1. Open the chat with the person you want to send an urgent message.
  2. Click the exclamation mark under the chat.
  3. Click Urgent.
  4. Type your message and click send.
Microsoft Teams mark message as urgent
Microsoft Teams mark a message as urgent

27. Record and Transcribe a Meeting

While in a meeting it’s easy to record but did you know Microsoft Stream can also transcribe the meeting for you? It’s simple.

How to record a meeting

  1. Once in the meeting click the ellipsis (…) in the bottom navigation pane.
  2. Click Start recording.
Microsoft Teams record meeting button
Start Teams meeting recording

How to transcribe the meeting recording

  1. Once the meeting is over the recording will automatically upload to Microsoft Stream. (it may take a few minutes)
  2. Click the ellipsis (…) next to the meeting.
  3. Click Open in Microsoft Stream.
Microsoft Teams open recording in Stream
Open Teams meeting recording in Microsoft Stream

4. Click the ellipsis (…) in the details section.

5. Click Update video details.

Microsoft Teams Microsoft Stream Update video details
Stream update video details

6. Under Video Language click Select a language.

7. Select your language.

Microsoft Teams set video language
Steam set video language

8. Verify autogenerate captions is checked.

Microsoft Teams autogenerate captions button
Stream autogenerate captions checkbox

9. Click Apply.

10. Wait for the transcripts to complete.

Microsoft Teams Meeting transcript
Stream waiting for transcripts

28. Access Teams Help

Teams has a great built-in help system. Designed to keep you up to date on changes and teach you how to get the most of Teams. It’s simple to access too.

How to access Microsoft Teams built-in help

  1. Click Help in the bottom left corner of Microsoft Teams.
  2. Click Training.
Microsoft Teams help training
Teams built-in help

29. Set Out of Office for Coworkers to See in Teams

Unable to respond during normal business hours? Your out of office status will show up in Microsoft Teams. Your teammates will also get a reminder that you’re out of office when they send you a private chat or @mention you.

How to view someone’s out of office message in Teams

  1. In chat, hover over their name or image.
Microsoft Teams out of office
Viewing out of office in Teams

30. Poll Your Team

Creating a form is quick and easy in Teams. It’s a simple way to get everyone to answer a question and get the information in a pretty little form. To create a form and share it with a team is easy!

How to create and share a form in Microsoft Teams

  1. Within the team click the ellipsis (…) in the new conversation. Click Forms.
Microsoft Teams add a form
How to add Microsoft Form to Microsoft Team

2. Enter your question, the optional answers, and click Next.

Microsoft Teams setup a form
Microsoft Form creation page

3. Review your form and click Send.

Microsoft Teams review form and submit
Microsoft Form review page

How to respond to a form in Teams

  1. Once published the form will automatically create two new conversations. One with the form; the second with the results.
  2. In the first conversation posted by the published form click the answer you want. Click Submit Vote.
Microsoft Form question in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Form question in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Form summary in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Form summary in Microsoft Teams

How to view additional information in the form

  1. Go to Microsoft Forms and login with your Teams’ credentials.
  2. Click the form you created in Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft form selection page
Microsoft form selection page

3. Click the Responses tab. Click More Details.

Microsoft forms a summary of responses
Microsoft forms a summary of responses

4. View the responses by each individual.

Microsoft Form results
Microsoft Form results