Several offices ago I sat across from a L.O.U.D talker. A loud talker who was constantly on a conference call. I’d try to remember to mute my line before joining a bridge but didn’t always remember. Random background noise isn’t so bad when you’re about to talk to two or three close colleagues, but background noise becomes inundating when the twenty-something people in my department all join a bridge.
Microsoft Teams helps you avoid a deluge of background noise in your call. When you join a “large” meeting –more than five people already in the meeting – your microphone is muted as you join. A notification is displayed prior to joining the meeting to remind you the microphone will be muted.
You can click the microphone button in the meeting control bar to un-mute your microphone and begin speaking.
Well, probably not *right this second*. But we’ve all heard — err, not heard — someone else do it. We’ve all done it too. The Teams desktop client helps you avoid saying “Sorry, I was talking on mute”.
In the Teams desktop client, you will see an alert when your microphone is muted and sound is detected. Maybe you’re talking to someone who stepped into your office — just ignore the warning. If you’re trying to speak to the meeting, this is a great way to avoid having to repeat your entire thought because no one else heard it the first time!
I like keeping my fingers on the keyboard, so I like using markdown in Teams messages (had to learn it for GitHub anyway!). The fact that hitting enter sends my posts in Teams? Generally awesome. I am not, however, the most succinct person; and a long series of thoughts is difficult to read as one continuous paragraph.
And using a new paragraph can serve to highlight a sentence without resorting to big bold text.
You can use shift-enter to move to a new line. Enter will still send your message.
But Teams has a GUI-driven composition mode — just click “Format” — that allows you to easily compose multi-line messages. In this editor, enter doesn’t send the message. It just moves the cursor to the next line.
There are a lot of formatting options available too. Basic typographical emphasis can be added to your text, and anything you type into the ‘Subject’ section will automatically be large, bold text.
The little highlighter icon will highlight text.
The underlined “A” changes the font color.
The icon with two A’s controls the text size.
So you can add really tiny or larger text.
Allowing you to use smaller or larger text.
You can create a bulleted list by clicking the icon with bulleted lines (or a numbered list by clicking the one with numbered lines). To end the list, either click the icon again or hit enter twice.
The quotation marks highlights text as a quote (two enters returns you to normal paragraph format here too), and hitting the drop-down next to “Paragraph” provides a list of pre-formatted text options.
A really cool feature for programmer-types – click the ‘code snipped’ icon.
A new composition window will be displayed – click the drop-down text to “Text” and select the programming language.
Text formatting will be applied to your code – the code I paste into Teams looks exactly like it does in my IDE.
When you have finished composing your message, you can click the little paper aeroplane to send your message. Or, if you prefer keeping your hands on the keyboard, hit ctrl-enter.
There are a lot of tools we use at work that are silly
overkill in your personal life – I don’t want to open a Remedy ticket for every
squeaky hinge! But some of our tools are quite helpful away from work too – making
flyers in Word or using Excel to keep track of the softball league standings. “Is
Teams useful in my personal life” seems like a purely hypothetical question –
it’s not like I can invite the rest of the Parent Teacher Organization to join
us here in Teams (and even if I could, that’s hardly an appropriate use of
company resources!). But did you know Microsoft offers a free version of Teams?
Signing up for a free account, you don’t get access to all of the Teams features we’ve got here
– you cannot schedule
meetings, there isn’t a Planner board, you don’t have access to the full
suite of Office 365 applications. But you do
have a Teams space, can use the integrated apps and connectors, have some file
storage space, have persistent chats in channels, and can even have group
Don’t use your company e-mail address to sign up – this will
need to be your personal address.
If you don’t already have a Microsoft account associated
with the e-mail address, you’ll be asked to create a new Microsoft account.
Otherwise you’ll be asked to sign in to your Microsoft
Supply your name, organization name, and country of origin.
It will take a few minutes for everything to be set up. Once
your personal Teams organization is built, you can invite others to join. Click
on your avatar in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and select “Manage
Click “Invite others to your org”
And enter their e-mail addresses
They will get an e-mail message inviting them to join your
You’re ready to start using Teams – add tabs to websites
your group commonly uses, set up connectors, create new channels, chat, video
calls, share files. You can even add new Teams to your organization.
Everyone added to your org is automatically able to access
the default Teams space (the one with the name of your org). Teams spaces you create can be private or public,
just like at work – but you can also select “Org-wide” which automatically
joins any newly-added individuals to the Teams space.
One drawback to retaining all of your chat and team discussion content is that there’s a LOT
of content … which makes it challenging to find a specific discussion or
comment. Luckily, Teams data is easily searched. At the top of your Teams
application (or website), there is a long gray bar. Click in it and type a word
or phrase to begin searching. Using multiple words will find conversations
containing both words, to find a phrase place the phrase “in quotes”. Hit enter.
You’ll see messages that contain the words or phrase –
notice this includes both chat messages and channel discussions. Each search
result has a reference letting you know where the discussion is located, and
you can click on the item to switch to the chat or channel discussion.
If your search returns too many results, click on the little
funnel – you can refine your search results with a filter – a specific
individual, a time frame.
In addition to searching chat messages, you can search files.
Just click on “Files” and you’ll see files with names or content that contain
your search terms. Again, you can see where the file is located, and you can
click on the file to preview the file.
Click on “People” and you’ll find, well, people who work here.
This is a name search – you cannot search for “stats” and see people with whom you’ve
had discussions about statistics. Search for a last name, a first name, or a
name in “last, first” format.
If you click on a person, you’ll see the conversations you
have had with them, as well as any shared files, an org chart for their
position in the company, and their channel posts for the past two weeks (‘Activity’).
If you haven’t chatted with them before, you can start a new
There are times when it is easy to tell who is speaking – there aren’t a lot of women in my group, so “the female voice” is usually me. My friend Richard is generally the only person with a New Zealand accent on any call (although someone who didn’t grow up in a Commonwealth country may have trouble distinguishing him from the guy from Australia). And after you work with someone for a while, you learn the voice and lexical nuances of colleagues. The rest of the time? I end up pausing the conversation to check who it was that volunteered to serve as my tester and clarify who is going to be getting back to me next week. In a Teams meeting, though, you can quickly tell who is speaking – and respond with a much friendlier “thanks, Jim, for offering to help”.
When you join a Teams meeting, you’ll see up to four large tiles
with meeting participants. If there are more than five participants (you don’t show
up on your own view!), the remaining people will be represented by smaller
images in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
When someone is speaking, their tile will be highlighted in
a purply-blue and a brighter highlight circumscribes their image.
The four large tiles represent the most recent speakers, so
you will notice who is in these four tiles change throughout the call. And, yeah,
it’s possible for more than one person to be talking at a time – you’ll have
multiple highlighted tiles.
There is another place to view who is speaking. On the right-hand
column, click to enter the participant pane.
The current speaker will be bolded.
Bonus Features: Sometimes
I’ll start a large call and have trouble getting everyone’s attention to start the call. In the participant pane,
you can click “Mute all” to mute all
participants. N.B. Any participant can do this – so don’t test it in the
middle of a real discussion!
And just like meetings through the PSTN system or other web-meeting
platforms, you’ll get the occasional person typing without hitting mute. Or speaking
to someone who popped into their office. Or experiencing feedback on the connection.
In Teams, it’s easier to identify who
is causing a disruption – they are going to be highlighted as speaking.
Once you’ve identified the source of the noise, click the
not-quite-a-hamburger-button next to their name and select “Mute participant”.
You can create a
document in a Teams file space (from “New”, select the document type); but, if
you want to use a custom template (or if you just didn’t think of it and started the document on your computer),
you can also save an Office 365 document to Microsoft Teams.
For the Teams file space to appear in the save dialogue, you’ll need to be following the SharePoint repository that underpins the file space. From the Files, select “Open in SharePoint”.
In the upper right-hand corner, click “Not following” to
follow the site.
The change may not be reflected immediately on your computer
– if your Teams space does not show up yet, wait an hour or two. Select “Save
as” from the Files ribbon bar.
Click on “Sites – Windstream Communication”. The Teams space you followed will show up in the SharePoint sites list. Click on the team name.
Then select “Documents”
From there, you will see the name of each channel. Select
the appropriate one, then navigate to the location you want to store your
document. Give the document a name and click “Save”
The document will be saved directly to your Teams space.
I am a member of multiple Teams, and I can remember that Keith posted something about creating a Q&A a few days ago … but I don’t remember where he posted that message. I cannot reply to it until I find it. Search can help — chat conversations are searchable. But did he type QnA, Q&A, Q and A …
Instead of clicking through all of the channels in all of my Teams spaces trying to find a single post or working my way through the various ways of phrasing “questions and answers”, I can look at my chat with Keith. Click the “Activity” tab. Now I am looking at things Keith has posted to our shared Teams spaces in the past two weeks.
The Team and channel into which the activity was posted is included before each message. An icon indicates if the activity is a reply to an existing thread or a message starting a new thread.
You can click on any entry in the activity log.
Your Teams client will show you the message in its context – you are in the correct Team and Channel, and the message is briefly highlighted. This makes replying to the message we found in the activity feed quite quick.
What if you’ve never chatted with the person? Start a new chat and type in their name. You don’t have to send a message to them (although I could totally see myself writing “ignore this message – I just needed to get you listed in my recent conversations”), just click away and there will be a draft chat with them. Click on that draft chat, and you’ll have an “Activity” tab.
There is — which is obvious once you start thinking about how Teams data is stored. The “Files” tab is a pretty front end for a SharePoint document library, and document libraries store version history. The problem is I didn’t know a good way to walk an end user through accessing that document library. I’d generally do a screen sharing session with the user & navigate them to the right place myself. And then I saw this — on the Files tab, there is an “Open in SharePoint” button. You don’t need to drill down to find the specific file you want to revert – as long as you are on the proper channel, we’ll be able to get to the document.
Voila! A new tab opens and shows you the SharePoint document library that underpins the Teams Files tab. Now drill down until you find the file for which you are looking.
Click on the not-quite-a hamburger menu – the one between the file name and modify time.
Select “Version History”
To view the previous version, click on the hyperlinked modify timestamp. To restore the previous version, hover your mouse over the modify timestamp of the iteration you want.
On this menu, “View” will show you some information about the file – not actually view the file. Select restore “Restore” to replace the current version (the one that shows up in Teams) with the selected – you’ll be asked to confirm that you want to overwrite the current version.
Once the document has been restored, you’ll have a new entry on the version history pane – so you can even revert your document reversion if needed.
I’ve been tracking an RFE for screen sharing in Teams chat — it’s super-simple in Skype, and while it’s possible in Teams (schedule a meeting), it isn’t a one-click simple process. But today, we’ve got a new button in our chat sessions — start sharing your screen!
I don’t see the option in the web client on Firefox or Chrome, but I hope it is coming there too.