Overlooked Features in Microsoft Teams

July 09, 2020

You may have been using Microsoft Teams now for the last several months as many of us quickly learned to work remotely and now communicate via posts and online chats rather than in person meetings and office drop ins on colleagues.  

I think Microsoft Teams is actually pretty easy to jump into for day one use but then once we are comfortable with the basics there are a lot of less than obvious features that can make your communication better and easy.


Setting a Status Message

  Similar to having an out of office message in Outlook you can set a status message that appears when someone tries to chat with you or @mention you in a channel. This is a great way to let people know if you are going to be slow to respond for part of a day but are in the office.  
  Once this is set up, others will see a message like this above the new message text box when attempting to reach you or mention you.


Important and Urgent Chats

  When sending a chat to another team member or in a group chat if you need to draw a bit more attention to the message then you have two options to make it stand out using options from the ‘!’ menu below the message entry area. 
  Rirst, you can note your message as ‘Important’ message, this will add a visible Important message in red above what you type. Second, you can make the message urgent, in additional to a visual message this will also continuously notify the receiver until they have viewed it.


Post Announcements 

  If you need to make your post stand out in a channel, rather than just a plain text look, you can make it an ‘Announcement’ and change other styling to the text.  Click on the Format menu (highlighted below) to show an expanded formatting menu
  From this menu you can change the post to an Announcement, which gives you the ability to add a Header, Subtitle and even a background color or image for the header like the image below.


Tabs in Individual and Group Chats

  Most of us know that we can add Tabs in our Teams channels to add quick access to areas like SharePoint pages, external content and key documents. However, you many not have noticed this same concept also exists in the Chat area. For all internal individuals you chat with, you will see the following tabs by default and you can also add your own. 
  a.    Files – any document you have shared in the chat together
b.    Organization – review where this individual falls in your organization, this is based on the updated content in your User Profiles
c.    Activity – view any posts or other Teams activity for this user (that you have access to)


Filtering Chats

  We all have a lot of different online conversations going on every day. Sometimes its hard to find the information you need from a past chat.  I personally tend to be more of a navigator than a searcher, so I have to remind myself that instead of scrolling, clicking around and guessing that I can use the search bar or even better I can use the Filter option in Chat to find what I am looking for.  



  Lastly, tucked away in the search bar is a way to update several settings and start certain Teams activities using keyboard shortcuts. A couple of my favorites are:
  •    the ability to quick set yourself to ‘Do not Disturb’ (/dnd) 
  •    opening a chat in a separate window (/pop)
  To view more options type / in the search bar.


Sarah Buruin
About the Author

Sarah Buruin
Productivity Analyst II

Sarah has been working with SharePoint for the last 15 years starting with SharePoint 2007 and now working with SharePoint Online and related Microsoft 365 tools. She works directly with clients to help them get business value out of SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Groups, and OneDrive. She loves to work with site owners to plan, organize and build areas for team collaboration and focused communication.


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