Chat, Teams, Channels, Apps and Settings
Guidance and videos about using chat, teams channels and connecting apps.
What is Chat?
Chat spaces are for private chats between individuals and small groups of colleagues. You can use the chat space of Teams in place of emails for most types of communication, as the chat space allows for instant communication with others at the University.
Teams Tip: For ad-hoc chat with your colleagues create a new chat space before deciding if a Team is needed.
What can I do with Chat?
Start new chats
To start a new chat click the "New chat" icon (icon of a pen and paper)
- You can create individual or group chats.
- We recommend you have no more than 20 people in a group chat (certain features of chat are disabled beyond this)
Access recent chats
You can pick your recent chats back up by clicking them in your recent chat list.
Share and edit files in chat
You can attach files to your Chat message by clicking "Attach" (icon of a paperclip) below the message box. When you send a Word, PowerPoint or Excel file to a Chat, everyone in your chat can edit that file collaboratively and it will be automatically saved.
Files can be accessed in a Chat at any time by clicking the "Files" tab along the top of the Chat.
Video and audio call in chat
Audio/video calls allow you to have face-to-face conversations from your Chat space in a more ad-hoc way than scheduling a meeting. This can be useful if you are discussing something in chat, as a quick call can be easier than typing many messages back and forth.
Pop Out Chats
You can pop out individual chats in Teams by clicking the pop out chat button beside your Chat. This allows you to have a chat open in teams at the same time as working on other things.
How can I keep my chat list organised?
Name your group chats
We recommend that you name your groups chats to keep your recent chat list organised. Give your group chats as informative a name as possible, so that you can recognise the chat easily instead of seeing a list of names.
You can pin chats to stay at the top of your recent chat list. You may want to pin the chats that you use most often so that these are easily accessible at the top of the list.
You can hide chats from your recent chat list. You may find this useful if you have a lot of chats and your chat list is starting to get cluttered. You could hide any chats that aren't currently active (for finished projects etc).
For help with hiding chats see:
Can I get more help with Chat?
For more detailed help with Chat 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 guidance on chat:
What are Teams?
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:
How can I join a Team?
Teams you are already a member of
Teams you are a member of show up under the Teams icon on the navigation bar.
Teams you are not a member of
Join a Team by clicing the Teams icon and clicking the "Join or Create Team" button.
- 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):
Can I create a Team?
You can create a Team yourself by clicking Join and Create then Create a Team.
Microsoft provide guidance for creating different types of Team:
You can also view the LinkedIn Learning video on creating Teams (requires you to sign in with your University log-in details):
Selecting a Team type
You will be asked to select which type of Team you want to create.
Detailed information on the differences between Team types is available from Microsoft:
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
Can I get more help with Teams?
What are Channels?
Channels are sections within your Team that organise your conversations.
The following video by Microsoft gives an overview of Channels:
How do I access Channels?
You access Channels by clicking on your Team, then clicking the Channel
How do I navigate Channels?
The bar along the top of the Channel allows you to navigate it.
- Posts - shows all the conversations in the Channel
- 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.
Teams Tip: Files added to your Channels are stored in the Team SharePoint site.
Can I create Channels?
Teams Tip: If you need to create a Team keep it simple, and let the conversations decide the need for more Channels.
Microsoft provide detailed guidance on how to create Channels in the link below:
Can I create a Private Channel?
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.
Teams Tip - Private Channels cannot be changed to standard Channels after creation, and similarly Standard Channels cannot be made Private after creation.
What can I do in Channels?
Have conversations in Channels
Teams tip: You don’t need to create a Channel to chat with individuals, for this you need a to create a New Chat. Conversations in Channels are for chat with your whole Team.
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
Add files to 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 Word, Excel or PowerPoint file to a Channel, everyone in your Team can collaboratively edit your file
- 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:
Add Apps to Channels
Adding apps to Channels can add different types of functionality to your Channel. You can add OneNote notebooks to take notes with your Team, you can add a website to access it easily, and a SharePoint site.
Further information on Apps is available below.
Can I get help with Channels?
In depth help with Channels is available from LinkedIn Learning (requires you to sign in with your University log-in details):
Microsoft also have in depth guidance on Channels:
What are Apps?
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 and Chat spaces to allow you to use that app collaboratively in the Channel or Chat.
Important Information about Apps
We recommend you use the apps already available through the Recent list under the "Add a tab" button in your Team Channels because these meet certain requirements (for example these will be Microsoft apps, Polly, the website add in, or other apps that you currently use).
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:
How do I add apps to Channels and Chats?
Add apps as a tab in your Channel or Chat
You can add an app as a tab in your Channel or Chat by clicking the + icon along the top bar of the Channel or Chat.
For further information on adding tabs to your Channels in Teams, view the LinkedIn Learning video on this subject:
Microsoft also have guidance on adding apps to Channels and Chats:
Add other apps to Teams
To search for other apps or to add a personal app/bot click "More added apps" (icon with 3 dots) on the navigation bar and choose from the list of apps.
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:
What apps can I add for extra functionality?
There are many apps that you can add for extra functionality, however the 3 below are provided as examples.
Adding Planner to Teams
Teams Tip: 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.
If you want to learn more about Planner in Teams, have a look at Microsoft's guidance:
Adding 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.
The following video from Microsoft shows you how to add Polly to Teams:
Linking a SharePoint site
Teams Tip - 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.
Can I change my availability in Teams?
Change your Availability Status
Your availability status in Teams is the coloured circle that shows beside your profile picture. 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.
Help with changing your availability status and what you should change it to is available here:
Set your do not disturb priority settings
When you have your availability status 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"
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 and when you will be available.
Microsoft have step-by-step guidance on setting your status message:
Can I change my 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.
Turn message previews off for chat messages
You can now turn off message previews for your chat messages, helping to ensure your chat messages are kept private.
To do this access your notifications settings as above, and click the toggle beside Show message preview.
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.