Tag: microsoft teams

Did you know … you can sync Teams files to your desktop using OneDrive for Business?

An advantage of using the cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 platform is that you can work just about anywhere you have an Internet connection. This provides a lot of flexibility for mobile workers, but there are still situations where bandwidth is expensive or Internet connectivity is just unavailable. Situations where you want to be able to continue working offline.

Files stored within Teams channels are document libraries in SharePoint Online. Anything you can do in SharePoint Online works with the Teams files. SharePoint Online document libraries can be synchronized to your local drive through OneDrive for Business – which means you can work on Teams documents offline.

To set up the synchronization, you’ll need to open the Teams files in SharePoint. Select the channel and click on “Files”. Then click on the “Open in SharePoint” link.

You are now viewing the SharePoint document library. Click the “Sync” button to set up synchronization to your local computer.

Select “Sync now”

You may be asked to confirm you want to use OneDrive to open the link. You do! Click “Open link” (you can check the box to ‘Remember my choice for grvopen links’ to skip this step in the future)

If you have not yet configured OneDrive, you’ll be asked to sign in. Confirm that your logon ID is displayed and click “Sign in”

You can change the location where OneDrive stores synced files, if you wish. Click “Next” to continue.

Once OneDrive setup is completed, click “Open my OneDrive folder”.


You will see a confirmation that the Teams document library is being synchronized.

When you view your OneDrive folder, you will see the Teams channel(s) with document libraries syncing to your local computer.

When you save a new file to the OneDrive location, or update a file, you will see a circle indicating that the file is being synchronized. You will see a green check-mark when the file is successfully synchronized to SharePoint Online.

And the changes will be visible immediately in Teams

If you no longer wish to synchronize the Teams files with your local computer, right-click on OneDrive for Business in your system tray and select “Settings”.

Click “Stop sync” on the location(s) you no longer wish to synchronize.

Files stored on your computer will not be deleted; changes locally will not be updated in SharePoint/Teams, and changes in Teams will not be updated to your computer. The icon in the status column will be removed to indicate the folder is no longer being synchronized. You can safely delete the local folder.


Did you know … Teams can notify you when someone comes online?

If you send a chat message to someone who is offline, the message will be waiting for them when they sign in. But sometimes you want to know when someone becomes available. And Teams can do that for you!

In the “Chat” app, click on the “Contacts” tab. Click on the ellipses on the individual that you want to know when comes online and select “Notify when available”.

When the person is online, Teams will notify you.

You can turn the notification off the same way you turned it on.

You can view all of the accounts for which you receive availability notifications. Click on your avatar and select “Settings”.

Select “Notifications”.

Scroll down to the bottom of the notification settings and click on “Manage notifications”.

There’s the list – you can add new notifications here and remove no longer needed notifications.


Do you know … how Teams and Skype interact?

How Teams and Skype interact can be confusing – where will messages be delivered and what should you expect to work between the two systems?

Channel conversations don’t exist in Skype, so you’ll need to use the Teams desktop, mobile, or web client to participate in channel discussions and to access files and tabs within channels.

Meetings are straight-forward too. You’ll need to use the Skype desktop, mobile, or web client to join Skype for Business meetings; you’ll need to use the Teams desktop, mobile, or web client to join Teams meetings.

Calls and Chat – this is where interoperability gets nuanced and potentially confusing! And you may need to know whether the person with whom you want to communicate is using Teams or Skype.

Island Mode

We are currently operating in what Microsoft calls “Island” mode – both Teams and Skype are an island, and communication stays on that island. Your presence in Teams comes from your Teams client, and your presence in Skype comes from your Skype client. If you send a message from Teams, it is delivered to the recipient in Teams. If you send a message from Skype, it is delivered to the recipient in Skype.

Teams and Skype Interoperability Within Windstream

Employees and contractors with @windstream.com accounts

This doesn’t work – calls and chats sent from Teams will be delivered to Teams.
Messages and calls originated in Teams are delivered to Teams.
Messages and calls originated in Skype are delivered to Skype.
This doesn’t work – calls and chats sent from Skype will be delivered to Skype.

Working In Island Mode

Because messages are only delivered within their island, you may get messages in either your Teams or Skype client – so should leave both running. If you forget to open your Teams client, you will get e-mail notices for missed chat messages (and any channel messages where you are at-mentioned) whenever you are inactive in Teams. You can customize your notification options if you want to get messages more or less frequently, or want to be notified of activity in any channels you follow.

** You will begin receiving e-mail notifications for missed Teams activity after you log into Teams for the first time. If you haven’t checked Teams out yet, visit https://teams.microsoft.com to try it out.

Teams Only

If you only use Skype to receive messages from colleagues who haven’t yet transitioned to Teams, you may elect to set your account to Teams Only mode. When you’ve switched to Teams Only, you’ll see some differences in your chat and calling communication – messages sent from Skype will arrive in your Teams client, and your presence in both Teams and Skype will reflect your Teams presence. As a Teams Only user, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition between the mobile and desktop client, find messages from Skype users when searching Teams, and you can often shut down your Skype client. Don’t uninstall Skype just yet! You may still use your Skype client to join meetings – you can join Skype meetings through a web client, but you won’t be an authenticated user and may need to wait in the “lobby” to be admitted to your meeting. But you can disable the auto-launch and open Skype only when it is needed.

Working In Teams Only Mode

Teams Only: Teams and Skype Interoperability Within Windstream

Employees and contractors with @windstream.com accounts

If the person has previously contacted you from Skype, the conversation will be marked with a Skype logo. You can reply to chat threads marked with a Skype logo initiate communication with Skype recipients. I pin chats from frequent Skype contacts to ensure I have a previous conversation available. You will not be able to:

Use rich text (typographical emphasis, font colors, etc)

Use emojis or gifs

Share your desktop

Include more than one person in the chat

If there isn’t a previous conversation to continue, or if you need to use one of the unavailable features, you can use Outlook to initiate communication to Skype users (** this requires a fairly old Skype client — old clients will set themselves as the default chat app on launch).

If you use Outlook to start a chat and the recipient replies hours later, the reply will be delivered to you in Teams. You’ll be able to use this conversation to continue delivering messages to the individual in Skype. If you need to use one of the unavailable features, you’ll need to use Outlook to initiate a new chat through your Skype client.

Messages and calls originated in Teams are delivered to Teams.
This doesn’t work – all calls and chats sent to you from Skype will arrive in Teams
All calls and chats sent to you from Skype will arrive in Teams. There are a few restrictions when chatting between Teams and Skype. You will not be able to:

Use rich text (typographical emphasis, font colors, etc)

Use emojis or gifs

Share your desktop

Include more than one person in the chat

Workaround – you can schedule a meeting in Teams or use Outlook to initiate communication through your Skype client.

Identifying Teams and Skype Users

How can you tell if someone is using Teams or Skype? Check their presence. In Teams, use the ‘new chat’ button and start a chat with the individual.

Look at their avatar – in the lower right-hand corner, you’ll see a small circle. This is a status indicator.

If their status is green, red, or yellow, their Teams client is open.

If their status indicator is a gray X, hover your mouse over their avatar or their name – an activity card will be displayed. When you send a Teams message to someone who has used Teams in the past, they’ll get an e-mail notification alerting them to missed activity. If you send a Teams message to someone who has never used Teams … well, they’ll see it when they log into Teams for the first time 😊

Never Used Teams Used Teams But Is Currently Offline
The individual’s status is offline and their last activity date is 31 December 2001. The individual’s status is offline, but their last activity date is recent.

In Skype, someone who is actively using Skype and someone who is a Teams Only user will have an active presence (or be listed as recently offline).

Someone who is using Teams but hasn’t changed to Teams Only mode will be listed as offline for a long period of time. They’ll still get an e-mail notification if you send them a Skype message, but you might get a faster response sending them a message through Teams.


If you communicate with federated contacts — those who do not have @windstream.com addresses — you may wonder where your messages end up on their side. As of 07 March 2019, there is no direct federation between Teams tenants. All federated communication transits Skype. This means your federated contacts will continue to receive messages sent from your Teams or Skype clients to their Skype client unless their account is configured as Teams Only.


The same holds true for you – whether your federated contact is using Skype or Teams, messages and calls they initiate will be delivered to you in Skype if you are using our default “Island” configuration and will be delivered to you in Teams if you have elected to be a “Teams Only” user.


Did you know … Microsoft Teams’ like button doesn’t need to imply sentiment?

Teams isn’t like Facebook where you’ve got an array of sentiments from which to select – but the “Like” button can be used for something other than saying “I like the information in this post”. When information is posted that doesn’t really warrant a response beyond “yup, I read this” – use the like button instead of replying “got it” or “yup, I did this”.

Why? When everyone replies to an informational post, you can end up with a LOT of replies. Each new reply moves the post down to the bottom of the channel (and alerts anyone following the channel of new activity). Do twenty people really need to know you’ve read the post? Do you want to see this every time a new person acknowledges the post?

Instead of replying to a post, just click the “Like” button – the little thumbs up in the upper right-hand corner of the post.

Anyone who wants to track who has read the post can hover their mouse over the like button and see who has responded. Anyone who doesn’t … well, clicking ‘like’ doesn’t count as new activity so the thread isn’t considered unread. Activity notification is only generated for the person who wrote the post. They don’t even know anything happened.

And we can all use context clues to differentiate between “Lisa really enjoyed reading my reminder to complete the Security Awareness CBT by Friday” and “Lisa finished that CBT” 😊


Did you know … Teams is great for in-person meetings too? 

In the mid 1990’s, I taught university classes – everything from introductory physics to string theory and computer forensics. There are some parallels I see between classroom instruction and business meetings. Many classes, and meetings, include some sort of digital presentation – content projected on the wall or a displayed on a TV. Even if the projector can auto-focus and you are using a projector screen instead of the textured, beige wall … it can be a struggle for everyone to see the presentation.  

To combat this problem, we wrote a program, ClassCast, that mirrored the instructor’s computer to all of the student computers – no more squinting to see what was being projected! Students could grab screen-prints of important information or download the presentation from the class’s web page. I frequently added links, textbook references, and additional information into the presentation comments too. 

Teams provides the functionality we built into ClassCast and adds additional features that benefit in-person meetings. Try it – start a meeting once everyone assembles in the conference room. Make sure people’s speakers and microphones are muted! Share your screen in the Teams meeting. Attendees can clearly see what is being projected (you may not even need that projector), notes can be added in OneNote or the meeting chat (a great place to stash questions too). Links and resources can be shared through the meeting chat. If you share a PowerPoint presentation, it is automatically shared out to meeting participants. Even if your presentation isn’t PowerPoint, you can record your entire presentation – complete with a transcription and share the recording in your Teams space. 

ClassCast inadvertently helped with the second problem I experienced as an instructor – attention. In the University setting, inattention often meant students suffering through a core requirement who sat playing solitaire or surfing the Internet; but it also meant the student in the back row, students who could barely see the presentation … well, their attention wandered. When everyone could see the presentation, they were less distracted. Having ClassCast running made it a deliberate act to open a card game or web browser – instead of staring at a desktop with those inviting (fun) icons, students had to close ClassCast. Yes, there were still a few students playing and ignoring my lesson – but it became a rare exception rather than the norm.  

I don’t see deliberate inattention when hosting business meetings, but attention still wanders. An IM pops in, and that flashing box constantly draws your attention. The new message indicator appears in your system tray and it could be important. My director at Alltel had a rule prohibiting computers in meetings, but a text comes across your phone … and his rule became pointless with the advent of smart phones. Having meeting content on your desktop immerses you in the meeting. If you are speaking to a presentation, that presentation content is right there. If the group is meeting to collaborate on a document, instead of having one person performing edits as they are suggested, the document can be edited collaboratively.  

Did you know … you can share PowerPoint presentations in a Teams meeting?

Since you can share your desktop or an application, of course you can share a presentation. And if you start your presentation before sharing the application, participants don’t even watch you click around opening the presentation and starting the slide show. But did you know Teams has special functions just for sharing PowerPoint presentations?

Once you have joined a meeting, select the “Sharing Tray” from the meeting control bar.

Click “Browse” next to PowerPoint and select the source of your presentation – this can be a PowerPoint File you’ve already shared to the Teams space, one stored on OneDrive, or a file uploaded from your local computer.

If you chose to upload a presentation, it will be placed in a location where participants can access it – the channel’s Files section in the case of channel meetings, and your OneDrive (with appropriate permissions added) in the case of private meetings. While this eliminates having to send the presentation to participants after the call, it also means that anything in the file is available to meeting participants. If you routinely hide slides to customize a presentation … just remember meeting participants can access those slides too.

The slideshow will start, and you will have a control bar to navigate through the slide deck. When you start a presentation, participants have the same control bar – they can look through your deck independently.

A participant can even request control of the presentation – you don’t have to “drive” while someone else speaks to a set of slides.

Control is automatically granted – you’ll see a banner, and you will be able to take control back. But you cannot currently restrict who is able to take control of your presentation. A RFE has been submitted to Microsoft to either restrict who is allowed to take control or use requests instead.

If you don’t want people to ruin the surprise (or if you want to ensure participants are focused on the slide being discussed), you can prevent participants from navigating the slideshow on their own. Click the little eyeglasses next to the slide control.

Participants will see a banner indicating that they cannot move through the presentation independently.

Clicking the little eyeglasses again will restore participant’s ability to navigate through the slides.

When you are finished with the slide deck, click “Stop presenting” – you will remain in the meeting, but the slideshow is no longer displayed.


Did you know … you can create a Team using a template?

We’ve created Teams for several similar projects – and it’s time consuming to configure the new team with all the configuration that we’ve found works well for the project. And then I’ve got to add the usual suspects to the new Teams space. None of these are particularly laborious, but not creating the Teams space on a blank slate would certainly save time. Is there a better way?

Yes! I can create new Teams using existing Teams as a template. Click “Join or create a team”.

Click “Create team”

Click the link to “Create a team using an existing Team as a template” – there’s no need to add a Team name or description here.

Click the radio button in front of the Team you wish to copy and click “Choose team”.

Provide a name and description for the new Team. You can select which elements will be copied from the original Team – for our migrations, I can put core team members in the template source & add only the specific individuals being migrated.

I’ve had problems with some 3rd party apps partially coming though … not enough that they work, but enough that I cannot just install the app either (or uninstall it). My current recommendation is to remove 3rd party apps from the template team.

When you have finished making your selections, click “Create”.

Wait for it – this takes longer than just creating a team. You can watch the purple line spin, or you can close the status window.

If you watch the purple line spin, you’ll be given the option of adding additional members. Either add members or skip this step.

Voila – a new Team with all of the channels I had set up in my original Teams space.

It is important to realize that content is not copied – while tabs are created, you will need to create a new Wiki, OneNote, Planner, etc. Click on the tab, and you will be prompted to create the item for your new Teams space.

You’ll need to input URLs for Website tabs.

Alternately, you can use the Microsoft Graph API to create Teams. You can create a Teams space with channels, pre-configured tabs, and even pre-installed apps.


Did you know … you can plan Shifts in Microsoft Teams?

Shifts, a schedule management tool that replaces StaffHub, can be used to plan shift schedules that team members can access from Teams. If you currently use StaffHub, be aware that it will be retired on 01 October 2019.

While Microsoft bills Shifts as a tool for “frontline” workers, this tool can be used for any scenario where responsibility is scheduled – on call rotations, manning the company booth at a convention, coordinating job share situations.

Getting Started

To access Shifts, click the not-quite-a-hamburger menu below the Teams function tiles and select “Shifts”.

Select the Teams space in which you want to create the schedule – only Team Owners can create schedules, so some Teams spaces may be grayed out. You’ll be asked to select a time zone for the schedule.

Schedules are organized by group – supply a name for the group. You may only have one group, but managing multiple call queues or ensuring coverage for multiple locations at a convention is easier with multiple schedule groups. To create additional groups, click “Add group” below the schedule.

Across from the schedule name, click the “Add people to group” icon.

You can add anyone from the organization but be aware that adding an individual to the schedule also adds them to the Teams space that holds your schedule. Similarly, you can denote any individual as an owner (thus allowed to create and update schedules) – they will become an owner in the Teams space.

Creating a Schedule

To schedule someone for a shift, you can double-click in their row under the date you want to add or click the ellipses and select “Add shift”.

Set the start and end time for the shift. You can add a color code to visualize the schedule. Notes are useful for denoting tasks that need to be completed during the shift.

If breaks will occur during the shift, click “Add activity” and add the break period. Click “Save” to save the scheduled shift (Share saves it and shares it with the rest of the Team. I won’t share the schedule until I’ve finished it.)

Once a shift has been added, it can be re-used. The most recently added shifts will appear when you click the ellipsis, and you can enter the start time to find other shifts.

Shifts has several views that ensure adequate coverage is maintained. In “Day” view, you can click the little stopwatch icon to display the number of people scheduled for each 30-minute block. You can switch from ‘People’ view to ‘Shift’ view to see how the shifts line up and how many individuals are assigned to each shift.

Once you have completed the schedule, share it with your Team by clicking the “Share with team” button.

If you generally maintain the same schedule week to week, you can copy a schedule instead of re-entering the same information every week. Click on the “Copy” icon.

Select the schedule to copy and the week to which the schedule will be copied. You can include all of the notes, time off requests, activities, and open shifts. Or you can exclude some of those from being copied by unchecking the corresponding box.

Schedule Adjustment Requests

Once the schedule has been shared with the Team, members can see the schedule in Shifts. Team members can request time off or schedule adjustments using the requests menu.

Click on “Add request”

After selecting the date(s) or time for the time off request and selecting a reason, click “Send request”. The request will be queued for Team Owner approval.

Requestors can view the status of their request

And Team Owners will see the requests in an approval queue.

Once a request for time off is approved, the appropriate time will be blocked off so you don’t inadvertently schedule over someone’s vacation.

Team members can also trade shifts using the requests feature. These changes are *first* queued the person assigned to the other shift to accept or reject the request. If the requestee approves the swap, the change is queued for Owner approval.

Open Shifts

In addition to individually scheduled shifts, Owners can create “open” shifts – a shift that anyone can request to work.

Team members can select the shift, view any notes associated with the shift, and request it.

Team owners will see how many people have requested a shift and can schedule an individual for the open shift. Click on the shift, select the individual to whom the shift should be assigned, and click “Approve”.

** If you change the times of an open shift, any pending requests will be declined automatically when the schedule changes are shared with the Team.

Shifts Customization

The list of time off request reasons can be customized. Click the inverted caret next to the Team name and select “Settings”.

You can remove any categories that are inappropriate for your organization and click “Add custom option” to add a new category.

API Access

A preview of programmatic access to Shifts should be released early in 2019. API access will be available through Microsoft Graph, and documentation will be available at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/graph/api/user-getmembergroups?view=graph-rest-beta when the API preview is made public. This will allow existing resource management tools to integrate with Shifts. Look for more information when the API is released.


Did you know … Microsoft Teams Who?

I’ve discussed developing bots for use with Teams, but did you know there are already bots available in Teams? Bots published by other companies are available in AppSource. Some are published by Microsoft too.

Who, a bot published by Microsoft, answers questions about the company’s organization. These include concrete organizational questions – “who is Lisa Rushworth’s manager” will give you my manager’s contact card. That is information I could discover any number of other ways too – looking in Outlook, the company directory. The unique feature of Who is personalized organizational answers.

How do you use Who? Just start a conversation with “Who”.

Or type “/who” in the command bar atop your Teams window.

The first time you converse with Who, you’ll need to install the Who bot and confirm that you want it to search the directory on your behalf.

Once Who is installed, you can chat with the bot. Type your question and send the message.

Ask something ambiguous – “Who is Todd?” – and the results will be unique to you. Todd’s with whom you communicate will be ranked higher in the result set. As will Todd’s who are closer to you in the company organization.

You can also ask Who about your own correspondence. I know I’ve talked about WebLogic configuration with a few people in the past, and I want to correspond with the person again. Instead of searching through my e-mail, I can ask Who. You won’t get access specific messages (i.e. you cannot do this to reply to an existing e-mail chain), but contact information helps me remember with whom I’ve previously discussed the topic.

You can ask who you met with to search calendar items

If you ask “who knows about” a topic, you’ll see results based on Teams posts to which you have access. Who does not search conversations to which you do not have access – so if you’ve never been involved in a discussion about WinCare, you won’t find an expert from posts within their Teams spaces.


Did you know … you can link to any Teams channel post?

You can! If you click the not-quite-a-hamburger menu on any post, “Copy link” will copy place a link to that post in your clipboard.

What do you do with a link to a post? Paste it somewhere 😊 Paste it where?! I use the URLs in code comments – we’ve had a discussion about how to implement a function. A link to that discussion is great supplemental documentation to my quick “# We’re doing this here” summary comment. I’ve included them in documentation footnotes. I add these links in Planner tasks – a reminder of what exactly the task entails. When reviewing my goals for the year, I can include a link to the Teams post where I discuss progress and announce the completion of the task.

I use these links to work around a Teams limitation too – you cannot move items between threads and channels. If a discussion becomes involved enough to warrant its own channel (or even Teams space), I can start the new channel discussion with a link to the previous conversation thread.

When you send e-mail to a channel, the message starts a new thread. As an example, if you’ve been discussing an opportunity in Teams, you can BCC the Teams channel when sending a proposal to the customer. This is great for ensuring Teams has as much information about the opportunity as possible, but that e-mail creates a new thread.

Simply include a link to the e-mail thread in the discussion thread and you’ll be able to correlate the items (I don’t, but you could get a link to the original discussion and include it as a reply to the message thread as well)

Caveat: Use thread links in locations that are generally accessible only by Team members. Only individuals with access to the Teams space can use the thread link to read the thread. Individuals who are not members of the Team will generate a request to join the Team when they use the link.