Chat, Teams, Channels and Apps
Guidance and videos about using chat, teams channels and connecting apps.
Chat spaces are for private chats between individuals and small groups of colleagues.
Hint: For ad-hoc chat with your colleagues create a new chat space before deciding if a Team is needed.
To start a new chat click "New chat" (icon of a pen and paper).
You can find the New chat button:
- Desktop and browser - at the top of your screen (as shown on the image across).
- Mobile app - at the top right of the Chat page (as shown on the image across).
Then, type the name of the colleague(s) you want to chat with in the "To" box, and type your message in the "Type a new message box".
Name your group chats
We recommend that you name your groups chats (any with more than 1 person), for easier organisation.
To name your group chat:
- Select it from your chat list
- Then, click the pen beside your colleagues names at the top of the screen.
Continue previous chats
You can continue previous chats by selecting them from your chat list and typing your message into the "Type a new message" box.
Files in Chat
You can attach files to your Chat message by clicking "Attach" (icon of a paperclip), or by dragging a file from your computer into the "type a new message" box.
When you send a file to a Chat, everyone in your chat can edit that file collaboratively.
Files can be accessed in a Chat at any time by clicking the "Files" tab along the top of the Chat window.
Audio/video calling in Chat
Audio/video calls allow you to have quick calls and face-to-face conversations from your Chat space.
For guidance on using these features, please refer to our Voice page:
More Chat help
For more detailed help with Chat, including how to format your text and filter your chat messages, have a look at the LinkedIn learning video on the topic (requires you to sign in with your University log-in details):
You can also read Microsoft's guidance on chat:
A Team is a group of users who work together on an ongoing basis across a range of issues and topics. Your Team space is your hub for collaboration and conversation.
The following video from Microsoft shows some of the basic features of Team spaces:
Accessing your Teams
Teams you are already a member of
Access Teams you are a member of by clicking "Teams" on the navigation bar and selecting the Team you are looking for.
Teams you are not a member of
Join a Team by selecting the Teams icon and clicking the "Join or Create Team" button in the top right.
- Type the Team code in the "Enter a code" box or
- Search for the Team you are looking for or
- Ask the Team owner to add you
For more help with joining an existing Team, watch the LinkedIn Learning video on this topic (requires you to sign in with your University log-in details):
Creating a Team
Hint: Always check if a Team already exists before creating one
To create a Team:
- Click "Teams" on the navigation bar
- Then, click "Join or Create Team" in the top right of the Teams window
- Then, click "Create a Team"
Selecting a Team type
You will be asked to select which type of Team you want to create. The simplest option is to select "Other" and we recommend this for anyone new to Teams, but you can select the best one for you.
Detailed information on the differences between Team types is available from Microsoft:
LinkedIn Learning has a helpful training video on creating Teams (requires you to sign in with your University log-in details):
What do Team spaces look like?
On the left of the Teams window is:
- your Team icon
- your Team name
- your Team Channels
On the right of the Teams window is:
- the Channel you have selected
More Teams help
Channels are sections within your Team that organise your conversations.
The following video by Microsoft gives an overview of Channels:
You access Channels by clicking on your Team, then clicking the Channel
The bar along the top of the Channel allows you to navigate it.
- Posts - shows all the conversations in the Channel by date
- Files - shows all files added to the Channel
- Other tabs - these tabs will show any apps added to your Team, for example, Polly (a quick poll app) or Planner.
- + (Add a tab) - this allows you to add apps to your Channel
When you have unread posts in a Channel, the Channel's name will be bold in your Channel list and may show a red notification.
Hint: Files added to your Channels are stored in the Team SharePoint site.
Creating a Channel
Hint: If you need to create a Team keep it simple, and let the conversations decide the need for more Channels.
Creating a new channel (browser/desktop)
- Select your Team
- Then, click "More options" (3 dots) beside your Team name
- Next, click "Add Channel"
- Then, add a Channel name and select the Privacy setting. This will usually be standard allowing everyone in your Team to see your Channel, however in certain circumstances a Private Channel may be needed.
Private Channels can only be seen by the members of the Team invited to them, and are labelled with a lock beside their name.
We recommend that you limit the creation of Private Channels to the following:
- All colleagues to be added to the Private Channel are Team members, as if they are not all members of your Team it would be better to create a group chat
- Information in the Channel needs to be kept private
- You need more privacy controls over sensitive files or content, as a SharePoint site is created for each Private Channel.
Hint - Private Channels cannot be changed to standard Channels after creation, and similarly Standard Channels cannot be made Private after creation.
If you need more information, Microsoft provides detailed guidance on Private Channels:
Conversations in Channels
Hint: You don’t need to create a Channel to chat with individuals, conversations in Channels are for chat with your whole Team. Create a Chat for this purpose.
Starting a conversation
To start a Channel conversation type your post in the "start a new conversation" box.
Some features of Channel conversations:
- @mention: @ the Channel name to get everyone's attention
- Set your post as an announcement: Click "format" (icon of an A and a pen), then click "New conversation" in the top left and select "announcement"
- Set your post as important: Click "format", then click the 3 dots and select "Mark as Important"
Add emojis, stickers, files and gifs to your post
Cross-post to other channels: Click "format", then click "Post in multiple channels" and select them
For help with Channel conversations, please have a look at:
Replying/Reacting to other's posts
- To reply to a post: Click reply at the bottom of the post (if there is no reply button replies have been disabled to this post). Make sure to click reply if you want to reply to another person's post rather than creating a new conversation.
- To react to a post: hover your mouse over the top of the post
Files in Channels
You can attach files to your Channel conversation either by clicking "attach" (paperclip icon) or by dragging a file into the "start a new conversation" box.
- When you send a file to a Channel, everyone in your Team can edit your file by clicking the file, then clicking edit
- You can go back to a file in a Channel by clicking the "Files" tab along the top of the Channel window
- Files added to your Channels are stored in the Team SharePoint site, which all Team members can access
For further information on files in Channels, please have a look at the LinkedIn Learning videos on Sharing and collaboating on files in Teams (this requires you to sign in with your University of Edinburgh log in details):
You can also have a look at Microsoft's guidance on files:
Many apps (both Microsoft and third party) can be added to and used from Teams. These apps can be added as a tab in your Channels to allow you to use that app collaboratively in the Channel.
Important Information about Apps
We recommend you use the apps already available through the "Add a tab" button in your Team Channels because these meet certain requirements.
However, you can add other apps. If you are adding an app to Teams you should complete your own due diligence that the app meets the University of Edinburgh's data protection and information compliance policies. You should ensure that the app is legitimate, that the developer is reputable and check other people's experience with using the app.
Please also speak to your Data protection champion:
Adding Apps in Teams
Adding apps as a tab in your Channel
You can add an app as a tab in your Channel
- Click "add a tab" (+ icon) along the top bar of the Channel
- Then, either click the app you want to add or search for it
For further information on adding tabs to your Channels in Teams, view the LinkedIn Learning video on this subject:
Adding other apps
To search for other apps or to add a personal app/bot:
- Click "More added apps" (icon with 3 dots) on the navigation bar
- Then, select the app from the list or click "More apps" at the bottom to search for it
Here you will find many apps that may be useful, however, please ensure you complete due diligence before adding them.
For information on adding apps to Teams, including information on what apps can add to your Teams, have a look at the LinkedIn Learning video on this topic:
Linking Planner to Teams
Hint: Integrating Planner with your Team allows for simple task management without having to leave the Teams space.
Microsoft Planner can be added as an app to your Team space. You can add and edit plans, assign and manage tasks and see progress and priority charts within the Teams app.
To add Planner to your Channel, follow the "Adding a tab" steps above and select Planner from the list of apps.
Your plan will then show as a tab along the top bar of your Channel. You can add as many plans as you want to your Channel using this process.
If you want to learn more about Planner in Teams, have a look at Microsoft's guidance:
Linking Polly to Teams
Polly can be added as an app to your Channels. Polly allows you to create simple polls and gather feedback within the Teams conversation space.
Follow the "Adding a tab" steps above, and select Polly from the list of apps.
Polly will then show as a tab along the top bar of your Channel.
To create a poll, @polly in the "start a new conversation" box and follow the steps.
Linking a SharePoint site
Hint - The SharePoint tab works with Modern view SharePoint sites but not Classic view SharePoint sites.
You can link your published SharePoint sites and lists as tabs in your Team Channels. The members of your Team can then view your SharePoint pages and add comments within Teams. There are a number of ways you can do this:
- Add "SharePoint" as a tab in your Channel - if your SharePoint site is a Modern view site you can add your SharePoint as a tab by following the steps above to "Add a tab to your Channel" and selecting SharePoint.
- Add "Document library" as a tab in your Channel - this tab will link directly to the document library of your SharePoint. This tab works for both Classic and Modern view sites.
- Add "Website" as a tab in your Channel - if you have a Classic view SharePoint site but want a tab that is similiar to the "SharePoint" tab you should use this. This allows your classic view SharePoint site to be embedded as a tab in your Channel.
How to Change your Availability Status
It is important to set your availability status in Teams so that your colleagues know if you are busy or if you do not want to be disturbed.
To set your availability status:
- Click your profile picture in the top right of the Teams window
- Next, hover over your current status
- Then, select your status from the list (the options are Available, Busy, Do not Disturb, Be right back, Appear away)
Which availability statuses can you choose?
- Available - you are currently active
- Busy - you want colleagues to be aware that you are focused on a task and may not respond but you still want to receive notifications
- Do not disturb - you do not want to recieve Teams notifications except important notifications that you have set in your Priorty access
- Be right back - you want colleagues to be aware that you have temporarily stepped away from your PC/mobile
- Appear away - you want colleagues to be aware you are away from Teams
Do not disturb priority settings
When you are set to do not disturb you will not receive Teams notifications, except for the priority notifications which you have set to appear.
You can change these priortiy notifications:
- Click your profile picture
- Next, click "Settings" and a settings box will appear
- Then, click "Privacy" from the list on the left of the settings box
- Next, click "Manage priority access"
More help with availability status
If you need more help with setting your availability status, please watch the LinkedIn learning video on the topic (requires your University log-in details):
Further information is available from Microsoft:
How to set your status message
You can add a status message in Teams that will show when someone messages you. This message can let your colleagues know if you are unlikely to reply straight away, when you will be available, etc.
To set your status message:
- Click your profile picture
- Next, click "Set status message"
- Then, type your message in the message box
- Next, click "Show when people message me"
- Then, click the drop down below "Clear status message after" and decide when you want the message to be removed
- Click "Done"
More help with setting your status message
For further help with setting your status message, Microsoft provide some guidance:
How to change your notification settings
Click your profile picture
- Then, click "Settings" and a settings box will appear
- Next, click "Notifications" from the list on the left side of the box
- Then, click the drop down arrow beside each notification to change them
Hint -"Notification sounds" setting - If you have a meeting you may wish to change this setting to "Off". If notification sounds are left on people in your meeting will hear them.
More help with notification settings
For more information on changing your notification settings in Teams, please have a look at the LinkedIn Learning training on the topic (requires you to sign-in with your University log-in details):
Microsoft also provide detailed information on changing your notification settings:
Sometimes the amount of messages received in Microsoft Teams can be overwhelming, therefore it is important to consider some Teams etiquette.
- Consider your colleagues' working hours before messaging or scheduling a meeting with them
- Always check your colleague's availability indicator before you message them - If they are set to busy or do not disturb could your message wait until they are available?
- Pay attention to your colleague's status message that may show when you try to message them - Read their status message (this will appear above the "Type a new message" box) before messsaging them as they may indicate that they will not be available that day or if there is a specific time they are available
- Make sure to set your own availability status and status message - This lets your colleagues know when you are active on Teams and when you are busy working on another task and may not get back to them straight away. Guidance on how to set your availability status and message can be found in the "Settings" section above.
- Change your availability status to do not disturb when you only want to receive high priority notifications - You set up your own priority access notifications (shown in the "Settings" section above), allowing you to work without notification interruptions from Teams, except those that you want to see.
- Set your out of office message in Outlook and it will appear in Teams - When your out of office is on in Outlook, your Teams avaliability will be set to Out of Office, and your colleagues will see that when they try to message you.
- Don't expect colleagues to get back to you with an answer straight away - Just like with email, it may take your colleague some time to read and reply to your message, especially when they are not set to Available.