With the current scenario across the world due to the coronavirus outbreak causing people to stay at home and working remotely, there are a few tools and services that have come to the rescue to help people catch up on their work and related developments with their teammates. Some of these tools include video conference services (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Hangouts) and collaboration platforms (Trello and Slack). While we already have a detailed tips and tricks article on Zoom — one of the most popular remote conferencing solutions right now — this time, we bring you the same for Slack to boost your productivity.
For those new to the tool, Slack is a project management solution, with team communication as one of its primary objectives. It is available for both Mac and Windows on the desktop and Android and iOS on the mobile side of things. With Slack, you can essentially create workspaces that contain different channels, which the members can use to have organized communication with other team members or peers to better collaborate on projects. Moreover, it also gives with the ability to connect other apps and tools that your project requires, and the team relies on to work seamlessly, without having to leave the workspace. So if you are just getting started with Slack, here are a few tips and tricks to help you use the tool to its full potential.
1. Create channels
Slack basically revolves around workspaces, and these workspaces work well when you have various channels in it to have an organized chat and collaboration experience. For instance, if you have a workspace for your ongoing project that relies on a huge software stack, you can create channels for different modules to maintain relevancy locally and make it easier for people to discuss and find related conversations. To create a channel, head over to your workspace, tap on the + icon next to Channels, and choose Create a Channel. On the next page, enter the name for the channel and give it a description for people to get an idea of what it is about. Finally, hit Create. Moreover, if you want, you can also create a private channel, which can only be accessed by those with an invitation link.
2. Enable two-factor authentication
We cannot stress how crucial it is, these days, to enable multi-factor authentication across all your different accounts to add an extra layer of security to your personal data and information. [Guide to enable two-factor authentication] With Slack, although you might think there is not much at risk with your workspace, certain events in the past suggest otherwise. This is why we think you must secure your Slack workspaces (and also your Slack account) with two-factor authentication. For this, the first thing you need to do is upgrade to a premium tier subscription. After this, head to the Settings & permissions page and go to the Authentication tab. Now, besides the Workspace-wide two-factor authentication option, hit Expand, and tap on Activate two-factor authentication for my workspace. Finally, choose between text messages or the Authentication app to get your authentication codes.
3. Integrate third-party apps
For teams that rely on third-party apps to get things done, Slack offers the option to integrate such apps to your workspace. To do this, go to your Slack workspace on the web and log in. Next, tap the hamburger menu on the top left, and from the list, choose Configure apps. Next, go to the App Directory to find all the supported third-party apps organized into different categories. From here, select the app you want to integrate into your workspace and tap on Add to Slack. Finally, grant it access to the required permissions. Alternatively, you can open the Slack app, go to your workspace, and tap on Apps to find all the supported third-party apps and integrate them from there.
4. Allow video calls and change the default calling app
If video conference calls are something that you often need to do to keep a check on the developments with your teammates, you can use the above tip to integrate your favorite third-party app of choice for video calling. Once done, head over to your workspace on the web and log in. Next, go to Settings & permissions under Administration. From here, scroll down until you find Calls and mark the checkbox that says Allow video calls in Slack. Finally, select the checkbox next to the app you want to perform video calls on.
5. Create better polls
Assuming you have a large number of people working on a project, you might often find the need to get their feedback or other valuable input to make an informed decision. Although you can use emojis to create polls, it is not something that offers flexibility and functionality. However, thanks to Slack’s ability to integrate third-party services, you can install an app for carrying out surveys and polls. For this, open the workspace you want to create polls on and go to the Slack app directory. Here, enter the term “poll” to view a list of all the poll taking apps and hit Add to add the app to your workspace. We recommend Polly and Survey Monkey, which are two of the most popular poll and survey apps.
6. Limit third-party app installation
When you get started with Slack, the ability to install third-party applications is enabled by default to give you the option to integrate the apps and tools that your team/project relies on to your workspace. However, if you want, you can disable this to limit the number of installed third-party apps on your workspace. After this, if a member tries to install an app, it needs to be approved at your end before they can add it to the workspace. To disable the option, head over to App management settings and toggle the button next to Approve apps. From here, you also get to customize the settings further and permit people who can install apps without requiring your approval.
7. Filter messages
Given you are always on and off with Slack through the day, you will likely end up with an inbox full of messages related to different subject matters. To cope with such situations and avoid missing out on the important messages, Slack has a keyword filter feature to help you get to the messages with the most relevance. To utilize this feature, open your workspace in the app and head to Preferences. Here, with Notifications selected from the left menu, select the radio button that says Direct messages, mentions & keywords. Now, under My keywords, enter the relevant keywords to your related field or for the subject that you are anticipating the incoming messages.
8. Hide email address from profiles
If privacy is one of the concerns for you or your team members, you can hide their email addresses on their profile. For this, open your workspace on the web and go to Settings & permissions. Now, scroll down to Email address display and tap Expand. From here, uncheck the box next to Display members’ email address and hit Save.
9. Limit invitations
By default, Slack gives all members of a workspace the ability to invite new members to the workspace. Although this can be useful sometimes, in general, you should restrict this option and enable a check on who gets added to the workspace. To turn off this option, go to the Permissions and hit Expand next to Invitations. Here, check the checkbox next to Require admin approval, and from the available options under Send invitation requests to, select either Add admins or This channel. While the former requires the approval of admins, the latter sends the requests to a channel, which then needs to be approved.
10. Set a reminder for yourself
When you work with teams, oftentimes, the tasks get distributed among team members to be more efficient and organized. So, for such times, to stay on top of your work, setting up a reminder to finish the task in the stipulated time frame can prove to be helpful. To create a reminder, with any channel open, tap on the lightning icon in the message box and select Set myself a reminder. On the next screen, give your reminder a suitable name, time, and description. Finally, click Create, and you should have your reminder set.
11. Create custom Slackbot responses
While you can have multiple channels in your workspace for different subject matters, there is always the need to reply to messages or queries that require an instant response. And although you or your other team members can do this, leveraging the power of Slackbot to respond to queries that arise every-now-and-then is a godsend. For instance, if you get a lot of queries around passwords, links, etc. you can have the Slackbot answer to these questions. To set this up, go to Customise your workspace, and here, enter the most asked questions under the When someone says input box and the response under the Slackbot responds box. Finally, hit Save response. To add more such responses to common queries that you often come across, hit the Add new response button, and follow the same steps.
12. Create a to-do list
Working with team members requires you to be on top of the tasks allotted to you, or checking-in on others if you are the lead. With Slack, although you can leverage the potential of Starred messages, Saved messages, and Pinned messages, to keep a tab on tasks and revisit them later, there is also the option to create a to-do list that you and other team members can interact with. To create a list, open the channel you want the list in and hit the lightning icon in the message window. Now, choose Create a post from the options and start creating your post. To list to-do items, select the text and tap on the checklist button in the pop-up window. Once done, hit the Share button, select where you want to share it, and tap on Share.
13. Universal search
Although you can move around messages, channels, or workspaces, by clicking through the shortcuts pane on the left pane, there is a quick and efficient way to do this to save yourself a few clicks. For this, from anywhere in the workspace, hit the Command + K or Ctrl + K shortcut and enter the name of the workspace, channel, or thread that you want to go to, and hit enter.
14. Power search
In general, when it comes to performing a search on Slack, most users tap the search box and enter their queries. While that works for casual searches, it fails to offer results when you go with complex deep-rooted queries. So, for such instances, there are a few hidden key-modifies in Slack that give you the option to modify your search based on things like time/day/date, channels, type, and more. Some of these essential ones include –
- from: [name of user] or to: [name of user] — to find relevant messages from/to a particular team member
- in: [channel name] — to restrict search to a particular channel
- type: [text, image, etc] — to specify the type against your search
- before: [date] or after: [date] — to modify results based on date
- has: [link, image, etc] — to filter results that contain the modifier
Learn mode about search modifiers here.
15. Taking advantage of keyboard shortcuts
Although you can go about performing different functions around the app as you normally do, using keyboard shortcuts certainly helps to minimize the effort and save a few extra steps. So here are a few Slack keyboard shortcuts for Mac and Windows.
- Jump to a conversation: Command + K or Ctrl + K
- Open direct messages menu: Command + Shift + K or Ctrl + Shift + K
- Browse all channels: Command + Shift + L or Ctrl + Shift + L
- Previous unread channel or DM: Option + Shift + ↑ or Alt + Shift + ↑
- Next unread channel or DM: Option + Shift + ↓ or Alt + Shift + ↓
- Preferences: Command + , or Ctrl + ,
- Saved items: Command + Shift + S or Ctrl + Shift + S
- Search current channel or conversation: Command + F or Ctrl + F
- Switch to previous workspace: Command + Shift + [ or Ctrl+ Shift + Tab
- Switch to next workspace: Command + Shift + ] or Ctrl + Tab
- Upload file: Command + U or Ctrl + U
- Mute audio: M
- Toggle video: V
- Edit message: E
- Open or reply to a thread: T
- Pin/unpin a message: P
- Share a message: S
- Save a message: A
- Delete message: D
Learn more Slack keyboard shortcuts here.
That’s all! Using the tips and tricks mentioned above, you should now be able to use Slack efficiently and have more control over your actions.