5 tips for getting started with Microsoft Teams

In this post we will look at five useful tips – in no particular order, to help owners or members to get started using Microsoft Teams.

Contents

  1. Pin your favourite teams channels
  2. Use post formatting, there’s cool stuff in there
  3. Get to know the General channel
  4. Standard vs. Private channels
  5. Consider how you create new teams

#1 Pin your favourite teams channels

This is a simple one, but a really effective way of managing teams you are a part of. Once you start using teams in anger, it can become easy to lose track of what teams you frequent if you don’t manage teams gallery or your notification/ activity feed.

On notifications and the activity feed, notifications are actually turned off for teams by default, so it’s up to the members to manage their own notifications. Naturally, you still see updates by the channel being in bold and any @mentions will notify you.

It’s worth pointing out the distinction that you actually cannot pin an entire team, but only channels within it. Here’s how you pin a channel

  • Click on the ellipsis button … next to the channel you want to pin
  • Press Pin
Pin a channel for easy access from the teams gallery.

NOTE: To unpin a channel, follow the same steps as above button the option will be Unpin.

#2 Use post formatting, there’s cool stuff in there

One thing I’ve definitely starting using more and more is post formatting. There are several extra features post formatting gives you that you don’t get with the standard reply, such as

  • Add a subject – give you new post a prominent subject that stands out
  • Extra formatting options – heading options, text highlight colours, font colours
  • Announcement option – similar to a news post in SharePoint, but adds background colour or image to headline
  • Reply options – allow everyone to reply or just the you and/or moderators
  • Post in multiple channels – allows you to post a message in any of the channels you have access to
  • Format links – display text instead of a full URL, particularly useful if sharing links from Teams, as they are long and pretty ugly
There are several post formatting features that you don’t see in a regular reply.

#3 Get to know the general channel

The general channel is provisioned as standard when you create a new team. It’s generally the place where all communication within a team takes place.

The general channel comes with Posts, Files and Wiki tabs “out the box” to allow you to start collaborating straight away. That said, the general channel does have it’s limitations, such as:

  • You cannot use moderation in the general channel
  • You can’t delete the general channel
  • You can’t rename the general channel
  • You can’t hide the general channel or change the order of the channels to move it down
The general channel comes with Posts, Files & Wiki tabs as standard.

This post I wrote goes into more detail on using the general channel within the context of an org-wide team.

#4 Standard vs. private channels

There are two types of channels you can create in teams:

  • Standard – accessible to everyone on the team
  • Private – accessible only to a specific group of people within a team
When creating new channels you can choose between standard and private.

However, both options are not created equally. Here’s a look at the differences between the two:

StandardPrivate
Number of channels in a team20030
Number of members in a channel*10,000250
Can team owners manage the channel?**YesNo
Can guest create channels?YesNo
Support for connectors & tabs?YesYes
Support for Stream, Planner & Forms?YesNo
Create’s additional SharePoint site collections?NoYes
Creates additional Microsoft 365 Group?NoNo

* The number of members within a standard channel derives from the team membership.

** Team owners can’t see the files, conversations or members list in a private channel unless they are members themselves. Owners can see the names of the private channels in teams they own and also delete them.

Here are some more resources teams limits and standard/ private channels:

Private channel SharePoint site collections

Just to add to the point in the table about of additional SharePoint site collection, each private channel has it’s own, slimmed down version of a SharePoint site optimised for file sharing and fast provisioning.

The key differences between these site collections and standard ones is that private channel site collections are created in the same geographic region as the site collection of the parent team, have a a custom template ID, "TEAMCHANNEL#0" and cannot be accessed via the SharePoint admin center – only through PowerShell and the Graph API.

An example site collection for a private channel.

The URL for a private channel URL concatenates the team name with the private channel name, meaning it will look like this:

https://tenant.sharepoint.com/sites/TeamName-PrivateChannelName

https://www.petri.com/managing-teams-private-channels

#5 Consider how you create new teams

So this point is really to understand what gets provisioned when you create a new team, the different ways you can create them and any limitations with creating in those different ways.

What else do you get when you create a new team?

There is an absolutely brilliant everyday guide to Microsoft 365 Groups by Matt Wade at jumpto365 that does a better job explaining what you get when you create, well anything in Microsoft 365 than I can, but here’s the overview from his site:

Credit – Matt Wade jumpto365: https://www.jumpto365.com/blog/everyday-guide-to-office-365-groups

Outlook groups and the global address list

What I wanted to highlight was depending on how you create a team, the Microsoft 365 group behaves differently – particularly in Outlook.

What I have noticed is that teams created via the client app or web browser are will not appear in Outlook groups or the global address list.

Teams created any other way, be it from the Teams admin center, Outlook, Exchange, Azure or Groups will appear in Outlook groups and in the global address list.