The 15 best Microsoft Teams tips and tricks you should know


In these difficult times, when countries face a blockade and organizations ask their employees to stay home and work remotely, it can be a little difficult to take control and focus on developments with their work. However, thanks to a ton of applications and services such as video conferencing applications and remote collaboration tools, this experience can be simplified somewhat. One of those apps is Microsoft Teams, which is a unified collaboration and communication platform that allows you to connect with your team members and work together on a project. So if you’re new to the app, or even been using it all along, here are some Microsoft Teams tips and tricks you should know to get the most out of the service.

1. Change your background

If you work from home, not every corner of your home may be suitable for video calling. But with teams, that shouldn’t be a concern. As a result, you can change your background during a meeting to hide your messy surroundings in the background. However, as of now, Microsoft Teams only supports the default backgrounds. To add a background, during a video call, press the ellipsis button (three dots) and select Show background effects. You will see the Background settings menu on the right side with a list of default backgrounds. From here, select a background and press the Advance button to see it with its settings. To set it as the background, select it and press the Apply button.

Plus, in addition to changing your background, you can also turn on background blur functionality during video conferencing meetings to hide your background. For this, while in a meeting, press the ellipsis button (three points) to reveal more actions and select Blur my background.

2. Use an immersive reader

IMAGE: Microsoft

When you have to go through a lot of text between different conversations, it can sometimes be quite a tedious task. Fortunately, Microsoft’s immersive reader can save you some time reading text at different speeds, which can change based on your preference. In addition, it also offers you accessibility options that display the text in different font sizes, colors and spaces. In addition to the office setup, the utility can also be useful for teaching students with dyslexia and dysgraphia as it makes it easier to understand the text by dividing it into different parts of the speech for easier understanding. For this, tap the ellipsis button (three dots) next to your message and select Immersive reader of the options

3. Translate conversations

For those who do not have English as their mother tongue, but their work revolves mainly around this, Microsoft Teams has it covered with the translation function. To translate a message into your preferred language, tap the ellipsis button (three dots) next to the text in the conversation and select Translate. You should now see the text translated into your preferred language. Once this is done, you can return to the original text by following the same process.

4. Favorite of a team or channel

If you’re working on more than one project at a time, it can sometimes be confusing to keep up with developments in a particular team that requires your utmost attention. For such cases, you can simply mark a Team or Channel as a favorite, which can then be found in the Favorites section just at the top of the left window. To bookmark a team or channel, open it, tap the ellipsis button, and select Favorite.

5. Follow a channel for updates

Similar to how you can bookmark a channel to have an organized section for quick access, you can also follow it for quick updates. This can be useful if you don’t want to miss important updates or developments on your computers. To follow a channel, open it and tap the ellipsis button (three points). Now, from the list of options, select Follow this channel. Once a channel is bookmarked, you will be notified of all its updates through a push notification.

6. Mark messages as unread

IMAGE: Microsoft

While channels allow you to have conversations with your teammates about various developments, sometimes things can spiral out of control if there are a large number of members on a channel. And you can quickly move from something useful to a swarm of populated messages. To help you end up in such situations, you can mark important messages as unread as priority so you can revisit them later. To mark a message as unread, go to the conversation with the message you want to mark as unread, and tap the ellipsis button (three dots) next to it. Now from the popup select Mark as unread. You can find these messages by typing “/unread“In the search box.

7. Message marker

In the same way that you mark messages in a conversation as unread for later revisiting, you can also mark texts, images, or some other content in a conversation for later viewing. While unread messages can be helpful in reminding you of tasks to do, marking messages can help you save important messages or content that you need to refer to frequently. To bookmark a message, go to the conversation and tap the bookmark icon next to it. You can view your favorite messages by typing “/saved“In the search box.

8. Create rich text messages

IMAGE: Microsoft

Sometimes, you need more control over your text to get your messages across more effectively. This is where Rich Text Editing comes in and brings support for things like fonts, annotations, images, and other custom formatting options. To compose a rich text message, open the channel you want to send the message and press the button “A“At the bottom left. Now you will have a text popup, create and format your message here, and then press the Send button to send your message.

9. Integrate applications in teams

One of the teams’ USPs is the ability to integrate the entire suite of Office 365 applications on the platform. So if your team relies primarily on these apps, you can integrate them with a few clicks. However, that does not mean that the platform does not offer support for other productivity tools. Like, there is a complete collection of apps, organized into different categories to satisfy everyone’s requirements. To add an app to your team, go to your team, tap the ellipsis menu (three dots) and select Manage team. From here, go to Applications section (under your team name) and tap the More apps button. You now have a complete collection of applications, which you can select by going to different categories or by entering your query in the Search in all tables (under Applications). And once you find an app, select it and hit Add to add it to your team or channel.

10. Share a chat with the team through Outlook

IMAGE: Microsoft

As previously mentioned, Teams comes pre-integrated with Microsoft’s suite of applications. And Outlook turns out to be one of them. Outlook in Teams can help you share conversations as an email without leaving Teams. To do this, go to the conversation and click the ellipsis button (three dots). In the popup select Share in Outlook and add your recipient and other relevant information. Finally hit Send. Similarly, you can also email an entire conversation for a channel in the same way.

11. Filter the activity with mentions

If your team channel has a lot of users, you may have noticed a lot of messages flooding during discussions, to the point that sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of messages with their mentions. To avoid missing such important messages, you can filter the conversation using mentions to separate the ones you need from the rest of the swarm. For this, go to Exercise and tap the funnel icon on the right. Now press the ellipsis button (three points) next to the Write to filter box and select Mentions. You should now see the most relevant content (which has mentions of you) in the Exercise section. In addition, you can also go to Exercise and tap the dropdown button next to Feed and select My activity, to see a detailed list of all your activities in one place.

12. Record team meetings

IMAGE: Microsoft

Often when you are in a meeting with your teammates, there are certain things you would like (or want to) revisit later for reference. In such cases, Teams offers you the ability to record meetings to access the audio, video and screen sharing activity at a later time. The service saves recorded meetings in Microsoft Stream to share them securely across your computer. To record a meeting in progress, press the ellipsis button (three dots) and select Start recording. Once this is done, follow the same steps to stop recording.

13. Take advantage of slash commands

Although you can customize the platform to your liking by enabling certain features or playing around with various settings, when it comes to operational efficiency, there isn’t much you can do except master how to do essential operations quickly. This is where the slash (/) commands come into play. As you can guess by its name, the command involves the use of the forward slash character (/), followed by a command.

Some of the bar commands include:

me. / goto: helps you jump to a team or channel
ii) / call – call someone directly
iii) / chat: send a quick message to someone
iv. / activity: to see someone’s activity
v./whatsnew: to see the team news
saw. / mentions – see all your mentions
vii. / saved: to view your saved list
viii. / unread – to see your unread activity
ix. / keys: to see a list of all keyboard shortcuts
X. / available (or absent, brb, dnd, and busy) – to set a status

Also, to see more commands, enter the forward slash character (/) in Search or type a command window to see a list of all supported slash commands. Alternatively, you can go to Microsoft Support, here, for more information on these commands.

14. Master shortcuts

Similar to how you can use bar commands to quickly access different options and perform basic tasks, you can also take advantage of the power of keyboard shortcuts to easily execute various operations, while saving some time.

These are some of the keyboard shortcuts:

me. Go find – command +. or Ctrl + E
ii) Go to – command + G or Ctrl + G
iii) Start a new chat: command + N or Ctrl + N
iv. Open configuration: command + or Ctrl +,
v. Attach file – command + O or Ctrl + O
saw. Respond to a thread – R
vii. Mark as important: command + shift + I or Ctrl + Shift + I
viii. Toggle mute – command + shift + M Ctrl + Shift + M

Obviously, those are some of the shortcuts you can use on teams. For a full list of supported shortcuts, go to Office Support here. Also, be aware that some of the shortcut combinations may be different for the web and the app. Therefore, you may want to refer to the shortcuts link for help.

15. Use bots

Microsoft Teams offers support for Bots, which are essentially a tool to help you automate certain operations or get assistance with some everyday tasks. For example, a bot can help you perform tasks as simple as finding what’s on a meeting’s agenda, setting reminders, viewing reports, on something as complex as extracting pending requests from your Github repository. All that, without having to leave Teams. You can find some of the popular bots, here, or you can find one on the internet based on your requirements. Also, if you want to have more control over your bot or want to carry out more in-depth automation tasks, you can create your own bot using the Microsoft instruction guide, here.

Bonus tip: If you also use Zoom for video conferencing and remote collaboration in conjunction with Teams, the two recently announced a collaborative integration between the two services. So now you don’t have to switch between applications to attend or manage your meetings. To enable Zoom integration on computers, tap the ellipsis button (three dots) in the upper left panel and go to More apps. You will now see a collection of various applications. From here, tap the search box under Applications and type Zoom. Now, select the application and press the Add button to add it to your team or channel. Once done, you can start or join a Zoom meeting with just one click.

These are some of the tips and tricks for Microsoft teams that you can follow to make the most of your experience and perform operations more efficiently. Therefore, save yourself some time and invest the same in operations that require more attention.