In these trying times, when countries are facing lockdown and organizations are asking their employees to stay home and work remotely, it can get a bit challenging to catch a grip and focus on the developments with your work. However, thanks to a bunch of apps and services, such as the likes of video conferencing apps and remote collaboration tools, this experience can be simplified to a certain extent. One such app is Microsoft Teams, which is a unified collaboration and communication platform to allow you to connect with your team members and work together on a project. So if you are new to the app, or even if you have been using it all this time, here are a few Microsoft Teams tips and tricks you should know to get the most of the service.
1. Change your background
If you are working from home, it is possible that not every corner in your home may be suitable for video calls. But with Teams, that shouldn’t be a concern. As it turns out, 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, hit the ellipsis (three-dot) button and select Show background effects. You will see the Background settings menu on the right-hand side with a list of default backgrounds. From here, select a background and hit the Preview button to view it with your settings. To set it as your background, select it and hit the Apply button.
Furthermore, besides changing your background, you can also activate the Background Blur functionality during video conference meetings to hide your background. For this, while you are on a meeting, hit the ellipsis (three-dot) button to unveil more actions, and select Blur My Background.
2. Use immersive reader
When you have to go through a lot of text back-and-forth between different conversations, it can sometimes be quite a tedious task. Luckily, Microsoft’s Immersive Reader can save you some time by reading out the text at different speeds, which you can change per your liking. Further, it also gives you accessibility options that show the text in different font sizes, colors, and spacing. Besides office settings, the utility can also be helpful in teaching students with dyslexia and dysgraphia, as it makes it easier to comprehend text by breaking it text down into different parts of speech for easier understanding. For this, tap the ellipsis (three-dot) button next to your message and select Immersive Reader from the options.
3. Translate conversations
For those, who don’t have English as their native language, but their work primarily revolves around it, Microsoft Teams has you covered with the translation feature. To translate a message to your preferred language, tap the ellipsis (three-dot) button next to the text in the conversation, and select Translate. You should now see the text translated to your preferred language. Once done, you can revert to the original text by following the same process.
4. Favorite a team or channel
If you happen to be working on more than one project at a time, it can be confusing at times to keep up with the advancements on a particular Team that requires your utmost attention. For such instances, you can simply mark a Team or a Channel as a favorite, which can then be found in the Favorites section right on top on the left window. To mark a Team or Channel as a favorite, open it, tap the ellipsis button, and select Favorite.
5. Follow a channel for updates
Similar to how you can favorite a channel to have an organized section for quick access, you can also follow it to get quick updates. This can come in handy if you don’t want to miss out on the important updates or developments in your teams. To follow a channel, open it, and tap on the ellipsis (three-dot) button. Now, from the list of options, select Follow this channel. Once a channel is marked favorite, you will be notified about all its updates via a push notification.
6. Mark messages as unread
While channels allow you to have discussions with your teammates on various developments, things can sometimes get out of hand if there are a large number of members in a channel. And it can quickly turn from something useful to a swarm of populated messages. To help yourself ending up in such situations, you can mark the important messages on priority as unread so that you can revisit them at a later time. For marking a message as unread, head to the conversation with the message you want to mark as unread, and tap the ellipsis (three-dot) button next to it. Now, from the pop-up, select Mark as unread. You can find these messages by typing “/unread” in the search box.
7. Bookmark messages
In much the same way as you mark messages in a conversation as unread to revisit at a later time, you can also bookmark texts, images, or some other content in a conversation to check them out later. While unread messages can come in handy to keep yourself reminded of the tasks you need to accomplish, bookmarking messages can help you save important messages or content that you need to refer to frequently. To bookmark a message, head to the conversation, and tap bookmark icon next to it. You can view your bookmarked messages by typing “/saved” in the search box.
8. Create rich-text messages
At times, you need more control over your text to get your messages across more effectively. This is where Rich Text Editing comes into play and brings along support for things like fonts, annotations, pictures, and other custom formatting options. To compose a Rich Text message, open the channel you want you to want to send the message and hit the “A” button on the bottom left. You will now have a text window pop-up, create and format your message here, and then hit the Send button to send your message across.
9. Integrate apps on teams
One of the USPs of Teams is the ability to integrate the entire suite of Office 365 apps on the platform. So, if your team relies primarily on these apps, you can integrate them with a few simple clicks. However, that is not to say that the platform does not offer support for other productivity tools. As, there is an entire collection of apps, organized into different categories to cater to everyone’s requirements. To add an app to your team, head over to your team, tap on the ellipsis (three-dot) menu and select Manage team. From here, go to the Apps section (below your team name) and tap on the More apps button. You now have an entire collection of apps, which you can select either by going into different categories or by entering your query in the Search all box (below Apps). And once you find an app, select it, and hit Add to add it to your team or channel.
10. Share a chat with team over Outlook
As mentioned above, Teams comes pre-integrated with Microsoft’s suite of apps. And Outlook happens to be one of them. Outlook on Teams can help you share conversations as an email without having to leave Teams. For this, go to the conversation and click the ellipsis (three-dot) button. From the pop-up, select Share to 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 activity with mentions
If your team channel has a lot of users, you might have noticed a slew of messages flooding in during discussions — to an extent where it sometimes becomes difficult to keep track of the messages with your mentions. To avoid missing out on 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 Activity and tap on the funnel icon on the right. Now, hit the ellipsis (three-dot) button next to the Type to filter box and select Mentions. You should now see the most relevant content (that has mentions of you) in the Activity section. Furthermore, you can also go to Activity and tap on the drop-down button next to Feed and select My Activity, to view a detailed list of all your activities in one place.
12. Record Teams meetings
Oftentimes, when you are in a meeting with your teammates, there are certain things that you would like (or want) to revisit later for reference. For such instances, Teams offers you the ability to record meetings to have access to the audio, video, and screen share activity at a later time. The service saves the recorded meetings to Microsoft Stream for secure sharing across your team. To record an ongoing meeting, hit the ellipsis (three-dot) button and select Start Recording. Once done, follow the same steps to stop recording.
13. Leverage slash commands
Although you can customize the platform to your liking by enabling certain features or fiddling around with various settings, when it comes to operational efficiency, there’s not much you can do except for mastering how to get done with essential operations quickly. This is where the slash (/) commands come into the picture. As you can guess by its name, the command involves the use of the slash (/) character, followed by a command.
Some of the Slash commands include –
i. /goto – helps you jump to a team or a channel
ii. /call – call someone directly
iii. /chat – send a quick message to someone
iv. /activity – to view someone’s activity
v./whatsnew – to see what’s new with the team
vi. /mentions – view all your mentions
vii. /saved – to see your saved list
viii. /unread – to view your unread activity
ix. /keys – to view a list of all keyboard shortcuts
x. /available (or away, brb, dnd, and busy) – to set a status
Additionally, to view more commands, enter the slash (/) character in the Search for or type a command window to see a list of all supported slash commands. Alternatively, you can head to Microsoft Support, here, to learn more about these commands.
14. Master shortcuts
Similar to how you can use slash commands to quickly access different options and perform basic tasks, you can also leverage the power of keyboard shortcuts to execute various operations easily, while also saving some time.
Here are some of the keyboard shortcuts –
i. Go to search – command + . or Ctrl + E
ii. Goto – command + G or Ctrl + G
iii. Start a new chat – command + N or Ctrl + N
iv. Open settings – command + , or Ctrl + ,
v. Attach file – command + O or Ctrl + O
vi. Reply 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 that you can use on Teams. To view an entire list of supported shortcuts, head over to Office Support, here. Also, do note that some of the shortcut combinations can be different for the web and the app. So, you might 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 on some mundane tasks. For instance, a bot can help you perform tasks as simple as look for what’s on the agenda for a meeting, set reminders, view reports, to something as complex as pulling up pending requests from your Github repository. All of that, without having to leave Teams. You can find some of the popular bots, here, or can find one on the internet as per your requirements. Moreover, if you want more control over your bot or want to carry out deeper automation tasks, you can create your own bot using Microsoft’s how-to guide, here.
Bonus Tip: If you also happen to use Zoom for video conferencing and remote collaboration alongside Teams, the two recently announced a collaborative integration between both services. So now, you don’t have to switch between apps to attend or manage your meetings. To enable Zoom integration on Teams, tap the ellipsis (three-dot) button on the top-left pane, and go to More apps. You will now see a collection of various apps. From here, tap on the search box below Apps and type Zoom. Now, select the app and hit the Add button to add it to your team or channel. Once done, you can start or join a Zoom meeting with just a single click.
Those are some of the tips and tricks for Microsoft Teams that you can follow to get more out of your experience and perform operations more efficiently. Thus, saving yourself some time and investing the same in operations that require more attention.