4 handy Microsoft Teams features

A year into the pandemic, businesses continue to look for permanent solutions to combat the communication and efficiency challenges of remote working. For many, the answer has been Microsoft Teams. With 115 million active users in October 2020 and use by over 500,000 organisations, it has quickly become one of the world’s top collaboration tools.

However, while Teams offers a significant amount of obvious value, there are a few supplementary features that are more hidden. The four features listed below can help improve organisation, multi-tasking, and professionalism with a few clicks of the mouse:

1. Rich messaging

While it’s not quite as hidden as some features, the rich messaging functionality is still tucked away in the corner of your Teams chat box. Pressing the ‘A’ icon in the bottom-left corner opens additional style options that are perfect for long-form or more professional content.

Rich text formatting lets you add bold, italics, underlines, and strike through to your text so you can add some character and meaning to messages. It also lets you highlight text, change colour and size, and use various heading styles to really differentiate sections.

2. Search bar shortcuts

In its default form, the Microsoft Teams search bar is an incredibly useful tool, but it gets even more powerful if you utilise its in-built commands. You can change your status, call a phone number, see recent files, test your call quality, and add notes without leaving the screen you’re on.

Even better, you can do so without time-consuming clicking by pressing Ctrl+F on your keyboard. Once users get used to this workflow, it’s sure to increase productivity and efficiency. Here’s a full list of available commands:

/activityView someone’s activity
/availableSet your status to available
/awaySet your status as away
/busySet your status to busy
/callCall a Teams contact or phone number
/dndChange your status to do not disturb
/filesSee your recent files
/gotoGo directly to a team or channel
/helpOpens Teams’ help section
/joinJoin a specified team
/mentionsSee all the @mentions in your feed
/orgSee a person’s organisation chart
/popPop out a chat into its own window
/savedView all of your saved messages
/testcallCheck your call quality in Teams
/unreadView all of your unread activity
/whatsnewSee Teams’ new features and changes
/whoAsk Who a question about someone
/wikiAdd a quick note

3. Message categorisation

You can easily tag your messages to customise the way they list in terms of priority. The ‘!’ in your chat box’s formatting bar offers two additional options: Important and Urgent.

The important tag will change your message’s accent colour to red and add a large “IMPORTANT!” header above it. To the right of the message, Teams also surfaces a large exclamation mark icon just to make sure it can’t be missed.

The urgent tag is a bit more nuclear and is best reserved for issues that can’t wait. The recipient of the message will receive a notification every two minutes for twenty minutes. Perfect if the recipient isn’t checking the chat.

4. Pop-out chat

Teams’ pop-out chats were introduced early last year. An invaluable but under-utilised feature, it lets users separate a one-on-one chat into its own window for easy reference.

In doing so, the pop-out chat feature enables better multi-tasking. You can keep an eye on several chats at once and arrange them how you see fit. In practice, it’s an even better tool if you need to keep an eye on a chat while viewing a document or performing another task in the client. You can even combine this with our earlier tip by typing /pop in the search bar.

These are far from all of the features tucked away in Microsoft Teams, but they’re the ones that we think will have the most positive impact on your working day. With some simple training, businesses can boost their usage throughout the workforce for sizeable productivity gains.

We’ve all heard of Microsoft Teams, but did you know that you can prioritise messages and run commands straight from the search bar? These tips and tricks will help you use Teams more productively.
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