Microsoft Teams For Dummies
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The various ways you can communicate within Microsoft Teams can quickly become confusing. As a quick recap, a team is a group of people, and a channel is an ongoing conversation within the team. You can be in multiple teams and each team can have multiple channels.

The nice thing about this system of communication is that it has structure. You can always select a team from the left navigation pane and see the channels in that team. However, you might also need to just chat with someone or with groups of people, and you don’t want to go through the process of setting up a new team or channel. Teams has you covered with a concept called chat. You find the Chat icon in the left navigation pane just above the Teams icon, as shown.

The Chat feature of Teams. The Chat feature of Teams.

A chat is an ad-hoc conversation between two or more people.

Click the Chat icon to see a list of all your open chats. If you remember using AOL Instant Messenger, Skype, or most any other chat application, you may recognize that each chat item is like a window. However, instead of a new window for each chat, each chat appears as an item in the list. Click a chat and you see the main window refresh to show that conversation.

Starting a private chat

You can start a private chat by selecting the New Chat icon, which is located just above the Filter icon at the top of the chat list. The new chat icon looks like a piece of paper with a pencil on it. When you select the icon, a new chat appears on the right side of the Teams workspace. You type in the name of the person you want to send a chat message to in the To: field, and then click that person’s name to add that person to the chat. Once you have added the person to the chat, you can send a message just like you do in a channel. You type your message in the text box at the bottom of the chat area and press the Enter key on your keyboard or select the Send icon, which looks like a paper airplane.

Starting a new chat in Teams. Starting a new chat in Teams.

Adding multiple people to a chat

The previous section covers how to start a new chat. You can chat with multiple people by adding them in the To: line when you start the chat. However, you may find that you want to add more people to an existing chat.

To add more people to a chat that has already started, select the Add People icon that appears in the top-right corner of the chat window. Then, type in the names of the people you want to add in the Add dialog box. If you are chatting with only one person and you add another person, a new chat will appear with the three people in the chat. If you already have three people in a chat and you add a fourth person (or more), you will be presented with the option of including the chat history for the new people you are adding, as shown.

Adding additional people to a chat. Adding additional people to a chat.

If you are chatting with one person, you cannot add another person to the same chat and share the history of the personal chat with the new third party. The feature of adding people and keeping the history of the chat only appears when there are at least three people already in the chat. Microsoft has said that this is done for privacy reasons and the expectation that if there is a one-on-one chat happening, Teams should not allow one person to share that confidential chat with other people.

Giving a chat a title

By default, a chat is listed in your chat list with the names of the people in the chat. Often a chat will take on a life of its own as more and more people are added, and the chat becomes the central point of communication for a topic. When this happens, I find it helpful to give the chat a title so that when I am looking through my list of chats, I can quickly remember the topic of that chat.

To add a title to a chat, click the pencil icon at the top of the chat and type in a name, as shown.

Adding a title to a chat. Adding a title to a chat.

Pinning a chat to the top of the list

In addition to giving a title to a chat, you can also pin a chat so that it always appears at the top of the list. By default, chats are listed in order with the most recently used chat at the top. What I will do is pin a chat to the top of the list so that I can quickly get to that chat even if it has been a few days since anyone has added a message to it.

To pin a chat, select the ellipsis next to the chat in the left navigation pane and choose Pin from the More Options drop-down menu, as shown.

pinning a chat Pinning a chat to the top of the list for quick access.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Rosemarie Withee is the president of Portal Integrators and founder of Scrum Now. Rosemarie is the author of Microsoft Teams For Dummies and other Dummies titles.

Ken Withee works for Microsoft and is part of the Azure team. Previously, he was a SharePoint consultant, and he has authored several books on Microsoft products.

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