With over 250 million monthly active users, Microsoft Teams gained much popularity during the pandemic as the standard online collaboration tool for business and consumers alike. Chances are that your workplace, university or favorite charity have already adopted Teams so you don’t want to stay behind. This rather comprehensive list of tips and tricks is meant to help you make the most of Teams – today.
So if you are still trying to grasp the basics or already are a seasoned user,let’s get started with this master list of 40+ tips and tricks that every Microsoft Teams user should be aware of.
Getting started with Microsoft Teams
This section contains pretty basic tips, if you are a more seasoned user, you might want to skip into the beyond the basics or expert sections.
1. Change your Teams theme
Did you know that you can change the look and feel of Microsoft Teams?
Simply open Teams settings, navigate to the General tab and choose whether to use the traditional white background or alternatively apply the dark or high contrast modes.
2. Mute your Audio
Are you sometimes late to your meeting and want to join quietly, or simply need to take an important call from your significant other, while on a Teams meeting?
Teams allows you to mute your mic both from the meeting controls (shown above) and the meeting setup panel (shown as item 1 below).
3. Turn off your camera
In the same fashion you can turn on and off you video camera. You can either use the meeting setup panel (item 2 above) to disable your camera; or simply use the meeting control panel to enable video again.
4. Blur your meeting video background
If you use Teams for video meetings, this might sound familiar. Your home office is a mess and you need to join this video call. Two solutions for that: first off, you can use the Background Settings function (item 3 above) to blur your video background right on from the meeting setup or the meeting controls. The second solution is way more elegant : use a virtual background (we’ll go through the process later).
If for some reason, the Background setting button seems inactive in the Meeting Setup panel; make sure you turn on your video camera first.
5. Stop the echo in Teams meetings
When you and other meeting participants join an audio or video Teams meeting from the same room, you will hear annoying echoes. You can easily get rid of the echo by hitting the Audio off button in the Meeting Setup panel (show above as item 4).
6. Record your meeting
One important capability of Teams that you might want to use from the get-go is the ability to record a meeting. You can initiate a recording from the Meeting control panel as shown below. The recording itself is then kept in Microsoft Stream, and you can easily share the recording as a link in a Channel conversation (or by email if needed).
Once the meeting is done, you’ll receive an email with a link to your recording in Microsoft Stream.
If you initiated your meeting from the channel, a link to the recording will be also made available as a post in the respective channel.
Ad-hoc meetings recordings will be available in the Chat tab for the meeting itself, alongside with an file exchanged, meeting notes and whiteboard if used.
You might as well consider adding the Stream app to your channel so fellow members, can easily access all meetings pertaining to the group.
7. Change your team icon
Microsoft allows you to upload a custom picture and set it as your team logo / avatar. More details can be found in this tutorial that helps you set a custom icon.
8. Create a private channel
There are cases in which you’ll need to collaborate with others on tasks requiring confidentiality, such as preparing a budget or sales analysis reports. Private channels allow you to establish a collaboration platform with selected team members. The private channel will be visible only to those invited and will be marked with a small lock in your Teams list.
Creating a private channel is straightforward: just hit the More Options button (…) next to your Team, then hit Add Channel. Next define the channel information as shown below. Lastly, add team members to the private channel.
9. Mute notifications from noisy channels
These days, we all seem to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of incoming notifications from collaboration platforms and email. It’s often difficult to actually produce something meaningful beyond never ending chattiness . Luckily, Teams makes it relatively simple for us to calibrate the influx of notification alerts and sounds we get. Here’s a guide on how to mute Teams chat and meeting alerts.
10. Leave a Team
If you see no benefit in being part of a team, you can easily exit. Hit the More Options button next to the team you would like to leave and pick Leave the Team.
11. Use Teams on Mobile
If you need to access Teams whenever on the go, you can use Teams also on mobile. Microsoft shipped pretty good Teams apps for Android and iOS. Talk to your Information Technology colleagues to find out whether you’ll need additional software or authentication procedure to access your company’s Teams content on mobile.
12. Install and uninstall an app in Teams
Beyond basic collaboration, Teams allows you to enhance your team work by using either Microsoft or 3rd party apps. In the next sections of this tutorial, you’ll see several usages of Apps in Teams: Images, Weather, Reporting, Polls, Note Taking etc’.
If you are a Team Owner, you can easily install and uninstall Apps which were made available by your Information Technology administrators.
Process is fairly simple: Locate your team, then hit the More Options button next to it, and then pick the Manage Team cog. Then in Apps tab, hit the More Apps button to search and install your new App. Applications specific to a Channel can be added as tabs in the channel
13. Cancel read receipts
By default, every time you read a message in the Chat application, Teams places a small icon next to the message. This helps the sender acknowledge that you have read their message. You can cancel read receipts in the Privacy tab of your Teams Settings.
14. Using Filters to find stuff quickly
Want to speed up finding specific Activities in your feed as well as specific Chats, Teams and Channels? Use the Teams filter (shown below) or use the Ctrl+Shift+F shortcut.
The filter function allows to quickly find relevant entry by name; for Chats it also allow to quickly find muted, hidden and unread entries with ease.
15. Set an Away message
Same as in Outlook, Teams allows you to compose an Out-of-the Office away message that will be sent if someone sends you a message in Teams or mentions you in a chat.
Simply hit your Teams avatar, the hit the Set status Message, then write your message and specify the validity period. Hit Done and you’ll be all set.
Moving beyond the basics
16. Use Teams commands
As you get a bit more experienced with Teams, you might want to boost your user productivity by using Search box commands.
To get started, simple type the forward slash character (/) in the Teams Search box and browse the list of available commands:
The command list is pretty self explanatory and the ones i fing to be the most useful are:
- /goto: To easily access a team or channel
- /keys: To access Teams list of shortcuts
- /chat: to quickly start a chat with one of your colleagues
17. Use a custom virtual background
I guess you have noticed people joining Teams video calls using city or nature landscapes as backdrops for their video calls. You can use pretty much every picture as a custom background in Teams calls. Feel free to look into our simple guide on how to setup virtual Teams backgrounds for your call.
18. Take Notes in a meeting
Teams has several ways for you to take meeting notes.
You can easily add OneNote notebooks stored in OneDrive or a network drive and have your channel members share notes and notes. I have also seen people using the Posts tab and add their notes as chat messages. I have seen others attaching Word files to the meeting or to the Channel files tab. There are also third party apps that you can use.
That said, the proper method is to use the Notes tab that is automatically enabled for your meeting.
- Navigate to the Chat app.
- Click on your meeting.
- Navigate to the Notes tab and hit the Take Notes button.
- Log the meeting minutes there.
- Point the meeting participants to your notes as needed.
19. Access your unread activity
Similarly to Microsoft Outlook, Teams clearly marks any unread messages in bold. Moreover, you are able to mark Teams messages as unread for later follow up. But how do you easily access those unread messages and activities? Simple type the /unread command in your Teams Search bar, and have Teams retrieve only unread messages for you to process.
20. Delete or hide chat conversations
Teams allow you to delete messages from a conversation thread. It also allows you to hide complete chat entries in your Chats app (just hit the … button and then choose Hide). Teams doesn’t currently end users you to completely delete entire threads from the Chat History though.
21. Troubleshoot your Outlook teams connection
If you are both a Microsoft Outlook and Teams user, you are most probably scheduling Teams meetings right from your Outlook Calendar meeting using the Teams Add-in.
But what if for some reason, the Teams button is not available in Outlook, even though Teams is properly installed on your Windows computer?
Most probably the reason is that the Teams Add-in is disabled. Take a look at our tutorial on how to easily turn on Teams in Microsoft Outlook.
22. Embed Word and Excel files in your Channel
You can easily share files with your colleagues by uploading to the Files tab in a channel. You can however ease access to the file by simply embedding it as tab in your Channel. This works not only for Excel or Word, but also for OneNote notebooks, PowerPoint presentations, PDF documents and so forth.
23. View your colleague reporting line
If you work in big organizations, you might need to identify the organizational reporting line of a colleague. As Teams is well integrated with Azure Active Directory and Exchange, you are able to easily look into your colleagues org chart.
Simply go to your Teams Search box, type the shortcut /org and your colleague name and you’ll be all set.
Note: You won’t be able to look up the org chart in Teams for people outside your company.
24. Set your status (/dnd) , (/brb), (/available)
Want to manually set your status, so others know when to contact you. This can be done from the Teams settings, but as you gain more experience with Teams, you will start setting your status from the Search box.
Simply use /dnd for Do not Disturb or /brb for Be Right Back and hit Enter. Your status will change. Just remember to reset your status as needed.
25. Manually setting your online status to be always available / active
By default, your Teams online presence is synchronized with your Microsoft Outlook Calendar events and reflects the actual status of your operating system (whether it is used or idle). It is also set automatically to do not disturb when you share your screen or make a call. That says, Teams allows you to manually set your online status very easily and set it to available, busy, away or offline as needed. Here’s the tutorial for manually setting your Teams availability status.
26. Access your data on SharePoint
Your Teams channel data is available as a dedicated library on Microsoft SharePoint which is widely used document portal that is used as the infrastructure for Teams document storage.
In order to access your SharePoint library, simply navigate to your channel, then hit the Files tab and then hit Open in SharePoint.
27. Add the weather to Teams
Similar to Outlook, which allows you to display the weather conditions in your area, you can use Teams to get up to speed with the weather whereabouts.
If the Weather app is not yet installed on your local Teams client, then:
- Open Teams, hit the Apps button at the left side App bar,
- Search for and add the Weather app into Teams.
- Then, in the Teams main Search bar type /weather and the relevant location.
28. Make Teams your Default Chat App
After start using Teams, you might find it quite superior to Skype for Business. You can make Teams your default chat app for Outlook and other Office apps. Simply go to the Teams settings and then in the General tab, check the Register Teams as the default chat app for Office box.
The setting will take effect after all open Office apps are re-started.
29. Use Teams in Together Mode
A relatively new capability of Teams is to allow meetings in Together Mode. Instead of displaying all meeting participants’ camera feeds in the grid (gallery) view, you can show them side by side in a virtual setting (think classroom, library, movie theater etc’).
To enable Together mode you’ll need to first update Teams (hit your avatar, then Check for Updates). Then hit your avatar and hit Settings. In the general tab, check the New experience box:
Then in your meeting panel, hit the … button and select Together Mode.
Note that if you work in a large cooperation, you might not be able to manually update Microsoft Teams on your own. You might need to discuss enabling Together Mode with your Information Technology admin.
30. Get an email address for your channel
Once a channel a created you can post new messages into the channel Posts tab, directly from Outlook. For that you’ll need to locate your channel email address as following:
- Locate your channel and hit on the More Options button next to it.
- Hit Get email address.
- Copy the email address and add it as a Contact in Outlook
- Side notes:
- Teams Owners can determine whom can send emails to the channel (by clicking the Advanced Settings button).
- You can
31. Disable Teams from starting up when you launch Windows
Teams is absolutely great, but it can consume significant amount of computer resources, mainly RAM. If you run a business computer, you won’t notice an impact on your system performance. That said, if you run from a simple tablet, you might want to run Teams only when needed. When installed, Teams is configured to automatically start whenever you launch your computer. You can disable Teams from starting up when you boot your computer and launch it only in case it is required.
32. Publish polls and surveys in Teams
One of the most useful usages of Teams is to run polls and surveys. In a matter of 10 minutes you can create a custom poll using Microsoft Forms, or other third party software like Polly and post them in your Teams channel. This tutorial has everything you need to create your custom Teams surveys.
33. Embed a report in Teams
If your organization is using the Microsoft BI Platform, you can use Teams in order to distribute your reports. You can easily select and pin Power BI reports to a channel tab to ensure those are available to them for your data driven discussions.
34. Lookup you favorite quote directly in Teams
Another cool way to use Teams in to lookup your stocks portfolio. Here’s how to do that:
- From the Apps tab, search and add the Stocks app into Teams.
- Then, from the search box, type Stocks and then the relevant stocks ticker/s as shown below.
- Once the Stocks application is enabled simply type the command @Stocks and the ticker in your search bar.
35. Search for Images in Teams
Another little known feature of Teams is that you can use it to search images in Bing. First off, go ahead and enable the Microsoft Images application in Teams.
Then, in your search bar, just type @Images + your search query to access Bing pictures search.
36. Use Teams to manage employee shifts
if you manage a group of employees working in shifts in retail, call center or even a small factory, you can use Teams in order to plan and share work schedules. The Shifts application that you can easily add to Teams, makes it very simple to manage the shifts schedule, receive schedule requests for PTO, medical leave or vacations from your colleagues and even allow them to clock in and out their shifts. You can then create employee attendance reports are needed. Cool!
37. Adding a Calendar
Visualizing and managing a shared calendar is probably another great potential usage for Teams. So far, Teams doesn’t provide a straightforward Outlook integration. That said, you can add a Website tab to your Teams channel and point to to either your your Outlook group Calendar or Google Calendar URL. Most probably users will need to input their user credentials in order to access the calendars.
38. Integrate Trello in Teams
Many teams use Trello kanban boards for a myriad of collaboration use cases. Those could span ongoing task management as well as more strategic planning of projects, products or programs. You can easily open Trello as an App in Teams by adding it using the Apps tab to access your relevant boards and cards. You can also add it as a 3rd party tab in your channel. Both will require to provide your Trello user credentials.
39. Start Cisco Webex Meetings from Teams
Microsoft and Cisco compete in the area in the area of Team communication and collaboration. Still, your company might be using both. Did you know that you can integrate Webex into your Teams Channel? There is a Webex app that you can easily add as into a Channel tab. The team members can then easily access their Webex meetings and join their own Webex meetings from Microsoft Teams. They are also able to schedule Webex meetings and have the Team notified via the Posts tab.
40. Access your Teams analytics
As a Team owner you might want to be able to monitor usage patters of your Team or Channel. If so:
- In the left hand side App bar, open the Teams tab.
- Then search for your team in the left hand side pane.
- Hit the More Settings button next to your team and hit the Manage Team cog.
- Then open the Analytics tab.
- From here you can preview your Team and Channel usage patterns, engagement metrics, disk space utilization etc’.
Hopefully you have enjoyed the post. If so, feel free to share with with friend and colleagues over social media. Do you know additional cool Teams tips and tricks? Feel free to post them in the comments! Many Thanks!