Microsoft Teams For Dummies book cover

Microsoft Teams For Dummies

Author:
Rosemarie Withee
Published: April 20, 2021

Overview

Work seamlessly together with Microsoft Teams

It was only a matter of time before Microsoft 365 built an actual virtual office. And Microsoft Teams is it, rocketing from 13 to 75 million daily users in a single year. The new edition of Microsoft Teams For Dummies gives you an in-depth introductory tour through the latest version of the app, exploring the many different ways you can chat, call, meet, work remotely, and collaborate with others in real time—whether you're using it as an all-in-one tool for working from home or as an extension to your brick-and-mortar office. Available as a stand-alone app or as part of Microsoft 365, it allows you to work seamlessly with almost any other Microsoft app.

The friendly onboarding provided by this book takes you from the basics of file-sharing, organizing teams, and using video to must-have insights into less obvious functionality, such as posting the same message to multiple channels, muffling background noise (useful if you're working from home!), and choosing more than one feed to concentrate on when video-conferencing (allowing you to pay attention to the speaker and your team members at the same time). As well as clueing you in on how things work, you'll also find advice on the most effective ways of using them, with best-practices recommendations and tips on integrating Microsoft Teams into your existing workflows.

  • Set up the interface
  • Communicate on chat and video, inside and outside your org
  • Integrate Microsoft Teams with your other Office apps
  • Optimize your approach to meetings, working across large teams, and more!

Whether you're using Microsoft Teams for work, within your family, or for a collaborative hobby, you'll find everything you need to get everyone on the same page in the same virtual room.

Work seamlessly together with Microsoft Teams

It was only a matter of time before Microsoft 365 built an actual virtual office. And Microsoft Teams is it, rocketing from 13 to 75 million daily users in a single year. The new edition of Microsoft Teams For Dummies gives you an in-depth introductory tour through the latest version of the app, exploring the many different ways you can chat, call, meet, work remotely, and collaborate with others in real time—whether you're using it as an all-in-one tool for working from home or as an extension to your brick-and-mortar office. Available as a stand-alone app or as part of Microsoft 365, it allows you to work seamlessly with almost any other Microsoft app.

The friendly onboarding provided by this book takes you from the basics of file-sharing, organizing teams, and using video to must-have insights into less obvious functionality, such as posting

the same message to multiple channels, muffling background noise (useful if you're working from home!), and choosing more than one feed to concentrate on when video-conferencing (allowing you to pay attention to the speaker and your team members at the same time). As well as clueing you in on how things work, you'll also find advice on the most effective ways of using them, with best-practices recommendations and tips on integrating Microsoft Teams into your existing workflows.

  • Set up the interface
  • Communicate on chat and video, inside and outside your org
  • Integrate Microsoft Teams with your other Office apps
  • Optimize your approach to meetings, working across large teams, and more!

Whether you're using Microsoft Teams for work, within your family, or for a collaborative hobby, you'll find everything you need to get everyone on the same page in the same virtual room.

Microsoft Teams For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Microsoft Teams is a communications and collaboration product that was announced only a few years back. It then went on to become the fastest growing product in the history of Microsoft. Teams supports just about any manner of instant and asynchronous communication. For example, you can send messages, call others using audio and video, and conduct online meetings — all within Teams. In addition, you can share digital content and collaborate in real time. [caption id="attachment_269707" align="alignnone" width="556"] ©Round Pebble Design/Shutterstock.com[/caption] Think of Microsoft Teams as a dashboard into your online work. And, of course, Teams integrates closely with the rest of the Microsoft products such as SharePoint, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook, just to name a few.

Articles From The Book

10 results

Teams Articles

How to Manage Your Microsoft Teams Team and User Settings

You can control many different settings in Microsoft Teams, such as adding and configuring channels, users, and chat behavior. The settings you will likely use the most frequently are for your specific teams. These include adding and removing owners, members, and guests; adding and deleting channels; and working with apps.

Managing your Teams settings

To open the settings for a team, click the ellipsis next to the name of the team to open the more options drop-down menu and select Manage Team. The settings screen for a team contains the following tabs at the top, as shown:
  • Members: The Members screen is where you add new members to the team. You can add people as members of the team or as guests. A guest user is a user who has access to Teams and can chat with you, but does not have access to the rest of your Office 365 ecosystem.
  • Channels: The Channels screen is where you can add channel. A channel is an area of a team where you can chat about a common topic. For example, you might have a channel for carpooling, a channel for accounting, and a channel for clients.
  • Settings: The Settings screen is where you manage the settings for a team, as shown. On the Settings screen you can set the team picture, set the permissions of users including what permissions you want to give to guest users, set how @mentions work (pronounced “at mentions”), get a link to the team that you can share so others can join the team, and other fun stuff such as adding virtual stickers.

An @mention is when someone uses the @ (“at”) symbol followed by the name of a user in a message. It is essentially tagging the person so that Teams knows who the person is that is being mentioned. When your name is @mentioned, you will get a notification that someone has mentioned your name in a message. This will help you scroll through and find messages that are pertinent to you.

  • Apps: The Apps screen is where you can add apps to the team. You can see that some apps are installed by default. You can also add more by clicking the More Apps button.

Managing your user settings

Several settings are unique to each individual Teams user. I like to think of these as your user settings; you can also think of them as your profile settings. These settings are found in the drop-down menu that appears when you click your profile image in the top-right corner of the Teams window, as shown. You can use this menu to:
  • Set your current status such as Available, Do Not Disturb, and Away. I sometimes even set my status to Appear Away so that I can get work done without people knowing I am busy on my computer.
  • Set your status message so that others see a message and know what you are up to or what you want people to know. For example, I sometimes set this to the music I am listening to or a quote that I find particularly captures my current mood.
  • View chats and messages you have saved throughout Teams.
  • Open your profile settings (more on this shortly).
  • Adjust your zoom settings to zoom in and make items in your Teams window bigger or zoom out to make things smaller.
  • Change your keyboard shortcuts so you can maneuver around Teams with a few taps of your keyboard.
  • Learn more about Teams such as the version number you are currently using and legal notices.
  • Check for any updates to Teams so that you can be sure you have the latest version.
  • Download the mobile app so that you can have Teams on your smartphone and in your pocket so that you are never out of touch.
  • Sign out of Teams. I rarely do this, but have used it plenty of times while writing this book when I’ve needed to sign in and out of various accounts. You might use this if you are a member of multiple organizations and you need to sign into one account or the other.
When you select the Settings option from your profile menu, you can change several things that are specific to your account. The settings menu, shown here, includes settings for six different categories: General, Privacy, Notifications, Devices, Permissions, and Calls. I provide a brief overview of these sections here, and cover these settings in more detail throughout the book.

General

The General section includes settings for the theme you are using, how the application behaves, and the language you want to use. You can change the way Teams looks by changing the theme you are using. For example, maybe you prefer a dark or high-contrast theme to the default. In the application section, you can decide how you want Teams to behave on your computer. For example, do you want Teams to start up automatically when you boot up your computer? Or do you want it to stay running in the background when you click the X button to close the Teams app? In this section you can also associate Teams as the chat app of choice for the rest of your Office products. This option is useful when you are part of an organization that is moving from Skype to Teams. You can choose to use Teams instead of Skype by default using this option. Finally, you can change the language format and keyboard layout you are using.

Privacy

In the Privacy section, you will find settings to manage priority access, turn on or off read receipts, and turn on or off surveys. Priority access defines who you will allow to interrupt you when your status is set to Do Not Disturb. For example, you might want your boss to be able to send you messages at any time, but everyone else must wait until you set your status to Available. Read receipts is used to inform others when you read their messages. If you don’t want people to know that you have read a message, then you can turn this off. The surveys option is a tool Microsoft uses to improve Teams. If you don’t mind giving feedback, you can leave this option on. If you don’t want to be bothered with it, then turn it off and Microsoft won’t survey you for your opinion on how to improve Teams.

Notifications

The Notifications area is where you set your preferences for how Teams should notify you about things. You can set various events to show up in your banner (a pop-up window that appears in the lower-right corner of your computer) and through email, only in your Activity feed, or turn them off completely.

Devices

You configure the devices you are using with Teams in this settings section. A device includes things like your speaker, microphone, phone, headset, or camera.

Permissions

You can turn on or off permissions for Teams in this section. For example, do you want Teams to be able to use your location or be able to open external links in your web browser? You configure those permissions here.

Calls

Teams provides a full voice solution. What does this mean? It means that Teams can replace your regular telephone. In this section, you can configure how incoming calls are answered as well as setting up and configuring your voicemail and ringtones. You can also set accessibility options such as using a teletypewriter (TTY) device for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.

Teams Articles

Send More than Text When Chatting in Microsoft Teams

Entering text into a Microsoft Teams channel or chat is the most common way of sending your message to others on the team. However, you can send more than just text. You can send emojis, GIFs, stickers, and even attach files. These options appear at the bottom of the text box where you type in your message, as shown.

Adding emojis, GIFs, and stickers

Emojis are little icons that display an emotion. For example, a smiley face shows happiness and a sad face shows sadness. You will find emoji icons of all shapes and sizes and meanings. You can send an emoji by clicking the emoji icon and then selecting the emoji you want to use.

Teams includes text shortcuts you can type so that you don’t have to select an emoji with your mouse from the list of options. For example, to send a happy face, you can type a colon (:) followed by a closing parenthesis ( ) ). When you type this sequence of characters, the happy face emoji will automatically be added to your chat. You can also type a keyword inside of parenthesis in order to create an emoji icon. Some of the common emoji and their shortcut words are shown. The entire list can be found at the Office 365 training portal.

A GIF is an animated picture. Microsoft Teams includes several GIFs that are popular. For example, there might be a cat yawning or a reaction of a character from a popular television show. You can include these short video clips in your chat message as GIFs by clicking the GIF icon at the bottom of the text box. Stickers are short little comic strip–type images. For example, a drawing with a speech balloon over the person. If you have ever read the Dilbert comic strip, then you can picture what these stickers look like. Microsoft Teams includes a lot of popular stickers, and you can add your own as well. Adding a sticker to your message is shown.

Adding a file

In addition to fun emojis, GIFs, and stickers, you can also add a file to the chat message. For example, you might be working on an Excel spreadsheet and you want to include it in the chat. You can add the file to your chat message using the paperclip icon, as shown. You can choose a recent file you have been working on, browse the files already uploaded to Teams, choose a file from OneDrive, or upload a file from your local computer.

When you attach a file to a channel, the file appears in the Files tab at the top of the channel. The Files tab is a SharePoint site behind the scenes. You can spot the Files tab at the top of the figure in between the Conversations tab and the Wiki tab.

Reacting to chat messages

When someone types message, you can react to it instead of or in addition to responding to it. To react to a message means to acknowledge you’ve seen the chat. For example, you can react with an emoji such as a thumbs up, a surprise emoji, or many others. To react to a message, you either hover your mouse over the message or select the ellipsis if you are using a mobile device and touch screen, and then select the reaction. In the following figure, I am reacting to a message with a thumbs up emoji to indicate that I like the message and acknowledge it. If someone else has already giving a reaction, such as a thumbs up, then your reaction will increase the number that appears next to the same reaction. For example, if your coworker gave a thumbs up, and you reacted with the same thumbs up, then a small number 2 will appear next to the thumbs up emoji. Reactions can be important to acknowledge a message without having to type out a response.

Teams Articles

10 Tips for Better Microsoft Teams Meetings

Meetings come in all shapes and sizes with the only constant being that they fill up our schedule. With so many meetings on our plates, it is important to be as efficient as possible in organizing, scheduling, and conducting a meeting. Fortunately, Microsoft Teams includes several features that are particularly useful for meeting efficiency.

Chatting during a Teams meeting

The most common activity I do in Microsoft Teams is chat with other people. And I find it especially helpful to be able to chat with colleagues during a Teams meeting. A group chat is created automatically at the start of every Teams meeting that includes all the meeting participants. The chat window appears on the right side of the screen. While a meeting is going on and people are presenting and talking with audio, other people can be chatting in the chat window. This simple mechanism proves to be incredibly powerful. For example, suppose you missed something the presenter said. Rather than interrupt the entire meeting and ask the presenter to repeat him or herself, you can just type in the chat and ask someone in the chat for clarification or to fill in a gap. I find I do this all the time in large meetings. After a meeting has ended the chat continues to be active and anyone can continue posting messages. For recurring meetings, the chat will carry over from meeting to meeting, so there is always a record of past meetings and anyone on the meeting invite can jump into the chat for upcoming meetings. I have seen larger companies use this to keep track of agenda items for upcoming meetings. People will post in the recurring meetings chat through the week and then during the meeting the team will review the chat and discuss the items during the meeting.

I like to turn off message notifications during a meeting if a lot of people are chatting while someone is speaking on audio. A notification will chime with each new message, and I find it can be distracting. You can find the option to turn off sound for incoming messages on the notifications section of your settings. Click on your profile picture that appears in the top-right corner of the Teams screen and select Settings. In the drop-down menu that appears, select Notifications and look for the section called Other. There you will find a setting for Notification Sounds that you can set to Off.

Capturing a Teams meeting with a recording

I cannot tell you how many times a recording of a meeting has saved my team a lot of headache. A recording captures everything that happened in the meeting. A recording can be shared with others who were not part of the meeting, and reviewed by those who were part of the meeting. If everyone understands and agrees that meetings will be recorded, I highly recommend recording meetings.

Teams won’t let you record a call with two people or fewer due to privacy considerations. Once a call has more than two people, it becomes a meeting and you can record it.

Teams notifies the meeting attendees when a recording begins. However, I like to make sure everyone is completely clear and comfortable with recording the meeting beforehand so that there aren’t any issues down the road by mentioning at the start that I intend to record the meeting. Recording a meeting is easy to do in Teams. To begin the recording:
  1. Join an existing meeting or start a new one.
  2. Open the meeting controls by selecting the ellipsis from the toolbar.
  3. Select Start Recording from the pop-up menu that appears, as shown. Once the recording starts, everyone in the meeting will be informed.
  4. To end the recording, click the ellipsis again and select Stop Recording. You can also end the recording by ending the meeting. The recording will be made available to the meeting channel, as shown. Anyone in the channel can click the recording to view the meeting.
A recording of a meeting is an incredibly powerful thing. You can share it with others who weren’t able to attend the meeting, or use it down the road as a reminder of what was discussed and/or decided upon. The recording itself is in a service called Microsoft Stream. You can get a direct link to the meeting by selecting the ellipsis from the recording in the channel and then selecting Get Link, as shown. In addition, you can open the recording directly in Stream or even make the recording its own tab in the channel.

Keeping noise under control with mute

When I am in a meeting, I like to keep my microphone muted unless I am speaking. That way the other participants don’t hear any background noise that might be happening around me. Most people follow this same meeting etiquette, but everyone forgets from time to time. Someone might ask if everyone could please mute their microphone, but this can be disruptive to the meeting. When you are in a Teams meeting, you can mute the microphone of other participants. I have used this many times when someone’s microphone is picking up background noise, such as a barking dog, but I don’t want to disrupt the meeting by asking the person to mute his or her microphone. To mute one of the participants of the meeting, go to the meeting roster that appears along the right side of the meeting window, select the person’s name, and choose Mute Participant. To mute everyone, select Mute All from the roster. Both options are shown here. The participants you mute will be notified that you muted them, and they can unmute themselves at any time.

After you mute someone, it is a good idea to send that person a private chat message to let him or her know you did it. Almost every time I have done this, the person thanks me and lets me know that he or she just ran to grab a coffee or use the bathroom and forgot to mute the microphone.

Blurring your background

I love the flexibility of being able to hold a meeting with team members anywhere I have an Internet connection. And using video adds tremendous value to the meeting; however, it also introduces a challenge. What if you find yourself working somewhere you don’t want everyone to see? For example, I often take a meeting from home instead of walking into my office. When I am sitting at my kitchen table, you can see our makeshift open pantry in the background. It would be a great background if I was in a meeting with chefs, but it can be distracting for any other type of meeting. Teams has a cool feature that lets you blur your background but keep your face in focus when on a video call. Everyone in the meeting can see you clearly, even when you move your head around while you are talking, but whatever is behind you and in the background is blurred. No more worrying about any dirty laundry, literally, that might be making an appearance without your knowledge! Before you join a meeting, you are presented with toggles to turn on your camera and microphone. In between those toggles is a blur toggle, as shown, that you can use to blur your background. When you toggle on the blur option, your background will be become blurry, but your face will stay in focus. If you have already joined the meeting, you can find the blur option in the More Actions pop-up menu, as shown.

If you don’t have a video camera that supports the blur option connected to Teams, you won’t see the toggle to turn on your camera and blur your background. This is a common theme in Teams and Microsoft products in general. Elements of the user interface will appear and disappear if a required component (like a camera that supports the blur feature) is not attached.

Taking notes

Recording a meeting is ideal for capturing the meeting in its entirety, but as a practical matter, what you usually need at the completion of a meeting are meeting notes. You can use the notes, also called meeting minutes, to capture a record of key decisions and action items. Teams has a feature designed for capturing meeting notes. The notes are shared so that everyone in the meeting can contribute and view notes as they are added. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a meeting and someone took down notes incorrectly. A simple miscommunication can have ripple effects down the road. When everyone is reviewing and adding to the meeting notes in real time during the meeting, the possibility of miscommunication is greatly reduced. You can add notes about a meeting before the meeting starts or during the meeting. If a meeting was set up and tied to a Teams channel, you can go into the channel and discuss the meeting there. If the meeting did not have a channel, you can still add notes. To add pre-meeting notes, follow these steps:
  1. Open your calendar and select the meeting you want to add notes to.
  2. Choose to chat with participants, as shown.

Teams will create a chat for the meeting, and all meeting participants are automatically added to it. When the meeting takes place, the chat will be part of the meeting.

Once a meeting starts, you can add official notes to the meeting beyond chat. To open the meeting notes or to start taking notes, follow these steps:
  1. From the meeting options menu, select the Show Meeting Notes option. If you have already created notes for the meeting, the meeting notes will open on the right side of the screen, as shown. Or, if notes haven’t been added to the meeting yet, will have the option to create notes for the meeting once the meeting has started, as shown. To create new meeting notes, continue to Step 2.
  2. Click the Take Notes button. Teams will create meeting notes for the meeting, and you will be able to see the new notes section along the right side of the screen. You can now add notes or review any pre-meeting notes added before the meeting started.
When you add meeting notes, members of the channel, or meeting chat, will be notified so that everyone can follow along and add their own notes or review existing notes.

You can even add the meeting notes as a tab to the meeting. You find the option to add the meeting notes as a tab by clicking the ellipsis toward the top of the notes screen and choosing to add the notes as a tab.

Using a Whiteboard in Teams

Some of the most productive meetings I have had over my career are with a group of people standing in front of a whiteboard sketching out ideas. It is an aspect of communication that is hard to beat. Microsoft has recognized this and added a feature to Teams called Whiteboard. Microsoft Whiteboard is a shared screen that allows you to sketch diagrams. The way you draw on your screen depends on your device. If you are using a standard desktop computer, you use your mouse or a graphics tablet that connects a digital pen to your computer. If you are using a device that has a touch screen, you can use your finger to draw on the screen. My favorite way to sketch on the Teams Whiteboard is with the stylus pen on my Surface laptop. I find it very natural and easy to use. To use the Whiteboard feature in Teams, follow these steps:
  1. Join an existing Teams meeting or start a new one.
  2. From the meeting controls, expand the Share dialog box by selecting the icon that looks like a computer monitor with an arrow going through it. The bottom of the screen will expand, and you will see options for sharing your screen, a window on your screen, or a PowerPoint file. On the right side of your screen you will see the option for Whiteboard, as shown.
  3. Select Whiteboard and the screen will update, displaying a digital whiteboard, as shown.

You can select the pen color and pen width and begin drawing on the screen. Everyone in the meeting will see what you are drawing, and they can jump in and add their own drawings or edit an existing drawing.

The whiteboard persists even after the meeting so that you can always go back to it and add new sketches or modify existing sketches. Once you activate the whiteboard, it will be displayed as a tab on the channel or chat. You can export the state of the whiteboard at any time by clicking the settings icon in the top-right of the screen and choosing Export Image. I like to do this in order to lock the whiteboard and capture the state at any given time. This is much the same as taking a picture of a physical whiteboard to make sure you have the drawing on hand in case anyone comes along and erases it.

Every team in Teams has a digital whiteboard that can be used for meetings.

Sharing your screen

Screen sharing is one of my favorite aspects of digital meetings. I use screen sharing all the time. I even use screen sharing when the people I need to share with are in the same room as I am. Without screen sharing, I would have to have everyone huddle around my computer so that I could show them my screen. With screen sharing, I can share what I am seeing on my screen and they can see it on their screens.

It is much easier to look at your own computer screen than to look over the shoulder of someone else. Using Teams, you can share your screen with others, and they can share their screen with you.

During a Teams meeting, you can share your entire screen, a specific window, a PowerPoint presentation, or a whiteboard (covered in the previous section). Personally, I like to share just the window or PowerPoint slide I am talking about in the meeting. For example, if I am showing a website, I just share the web browser window instead of my entire desktop. If I am walking through a PowerPoint presentation, I just share the PowerPoint window. There are many reasons you might not want to show your entire desktop. For example, your digital desktop might be messy with various files that you are in the middle of organizing. Or, you might have sensitive material that should not be seen or recorded by everyone in the meeting. Regardless of the reason, you can share just what you want the team to focus on and leave the rest of your desktop hidden. To share your desktop, a window, or a PowerPoint presentation, follow these steps:
  1. Join an existing Teams meeting or start a new one.
  2. From the meeting controls, expand the Share dialog box by selecting the icon that looks like a computer monitor with an arrow going through it. The bottom of the screen will expand, and you will see options for sharing your screen, a window on your screen, or a PowerPoint file.
  3. Select the option you want to share with the meeting. A red box will outline what is being shared with others so that you know exactly what they can see.
  4. To stop presenting, select the Stop Presenting button at the top of the display window, as shown.

Taking control of someone else’s screen

In the previous section, you discover how to share your screen with others. You can also have someone else take control of your screen or ask to take control of someone else’s screen. When you take control of another person’s screen through Teams, you can move that person’s mouse around and type on his or her screen using your own mouse and keyboard. I use this frequently when I want to show someone how to do something on his or her computer.

Someone cannot take control of your screen without your permission. If someone requests to take control of your screen, you will see a message appear asking if you want to allow the person to take control of your screen or not. If you approve the request, that person will be able to control your mouse on your screen; however, if you deny the request, that person won’t be able to take control.

To give control of a shared screen, select the Give Control button that appears at the top of the sharing area. When you select this button, a drop-down menu appears that lists everyone in the meeting. You can choose who to give control of your screen to. You can take back control using the same method.

Organizing teams to fit your meeting needs

I tend to like the defaults of how Teams is laid out for most meetings. Teams will often make smart decisions and switch between showing people on the main screen and showing a presentation on the main screen. Teams will also detect who is speaking and enlarge that person’s video so that you can focus on the person speaking. However, you might want to take control and shift how you view things. You can switch between people and presentations by clicking on the videos of the participants or the presentations. You can also take the video of a participant and pin it so that it is always displayed. Sometimes I like to pop a video out of Teams and drag it over to another monitor. All this flexibility ensures you can adjust a meeting to fit your needs.

Using Teams while a meeting is in progress

During a meeting, most of the Teams screens are dedicated to the meeting. This is valuable when you want to focus on the meeting. However, you can still use other parts of Teams when a meeting is in progress. For example, if there is a large meeting that I need to listen in on but not focus all of my attention, I will minimize the meeting and use other portions of Teams. Minimizing the meeting is as simple as clicking on another portion of Teams, such as another channel or chat. When you click outside of the meeting, Teams automatically minimizes the meeting into a small window at the top of the left navigation pane, as shown. To go back to the meeting and maximize the window on your screen, simply click inside the meeting window.