6 Cool Features of Teams Chat | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh
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6 Cool Features of Teams Chat

The basics of chatting in Microsoft Teams is pretty simple. (Check out the Anything Skype Can Do, Teams Can Do Better blog or Teams Learning Resources page for help.) But Teams takes messaging to a whole new level, with features that make it a vital collaboration tool. Here are some advanced features of Teams chatting that can make you the chat expert.

1. Persistent Chat

Teams preserves chat history, so it can be viewed later by everyone in the conversation. If you add someone to the conversation, you can choose whether or not they can go back and look at the conversation history, and how much of the history they can see. If you forget what time you said you’d meet, misplaced the address or phone number that was sent, need to look at the file someone shared, or can’t remember who was assigned which tasks, being able to just go back and look at the conversation is a life-saver! Just click on a conversation from the Recent list in the Teams Chat tab, or start a new conversation and if a conversation already exists for that person/team, it will just pick up where you left off!  

2. Keep It Front and Center

Sometimes, you send an IM and you’re done. Other times, you need to keep track of what’s going on. Teams has several ways to help you quickly access conversations and messages:

  • Pop it out (Urgent) 

Just find the chat in your Recent list, and click Pop out chat to open it in its own window. This lets you keep an eye on it, even as you do other things on your computer. This is ideal when you want to see replies as they come in.

  • Pin it (Frequent)

When you have a person or team that you chat with frequently, pin the conversation so it’s always at the top of the Chats list. This makes it easy to find and open specific conversations. Just find the chat in the Recent list, hover over it, and click on More Options (…) > Pin.

  • Save it (Specific) 

Sometimes, you need to repeatedly refer to a particular message in a conversation. Saving it makes the message easy to find. Just go to the specific message, hover over it, and click on More Options (…) > Save this message. Anytime you need it, click on your profile image/icon, and select Saved to see a list of your saved messages.

3. @mention someone

@mentioning someone is like giving a digital tap on the shoulder. It’s a great way to let the person know that you need them to respond to a conversation. You might post “Hey @personwithcrazyschedule – let us know your work schedule when you get it, so we can schedule the study group.” That person will then get an alert that they’ve been mentioned in a chat. To @mention someone, just type the @ symbol, and a list of all the people in the conversation will come up as options.

4. Format your messages 

Formatting IMs makes it much easier to call out information. Select Format beneath the box where you type your message to see all your formatting options. Take advantage of bold, italicize, underline, color, highlighting, size, etc.

One formatting trick I use all the time is pressing Shift-Enter for a line break. When you just press Enter, it will submit the IM, and you will end up sending a bunch of separate chat messages accidentally. If you’re doing something like sending a list, and you want a line break after each one, but want to keep it all in one chat message, use this trick.

5. Use filters

Finding a specific conversation or message can be a pain. Filtering your conversations makes it easy to see only relevant conversations. You can filter your messages by entering a keyword (like the person you were chatting with). But there are a couple filters that are useful all the time.

Click on the Activity tab, and then on Filter at the top of the activity feed, and then select More options (…). You will see the option to filter for unread, @mentioned, replies, or messages with reactions. That makes it SO EASY to just see the things you need to stay on top of.

You can also go to the Chats tab, and click on Filter > More options (…). The options here are more limited, but you can filter to see messages that are unread, that announce the creation of a meeting, or view conversations that you had muted (perhaps because they were so active that the constant notifications were driving you nuts, but you need to review it all at some point).

6. Have Conversations in Groups and Channels 

Group chats in Teams are easy. Go to the Chat tab, and start a group chat by typing all the names in the To bar at the top of the page. If they are Pitt-affiliated, you can just type their name or username, and it will look them up for you. Need to add someone to the group mid-conversation? Just click the Add People icon at the top left of the window.

But the real power of Teams is that it has teams (duh), which groups all activities, conversations, files, etc. together in one place to facilitate collaboration and organization. Keep conversations WITHIN the team channel when appropriate: click the Teams tab and select the team. The channel conversation history will be in the main window. Either reply to a conversation or click New Conversation to start a new one. Keeping conversations in the Team ensures that discussions can be easily seen by all members.

OK, people. Now you’re ready to chat like a pro! Message away.

-- By Karen Beaudway, Pitt IT Blogger

Microsoft is retiring Skype for Business and moving all users to Teams as the default chat, meeting, and calling app in Office 365. To support the transition to Teams, Pitt IT is migrating Skype users without a Skype phone account to Teams on October 17. Don’t wait until next month to start using Teams—Pitt IT encourages you to begin using it now.