Microsoft Teams is the productivity and chat app designed to help companies communicate. Like most Microsoft programs, there is a lot you can do with it and more features are constantly being added. While it’s not overly complicated, there are some nice shortcuts, called slash commands, that can save you time and make Teams just a little bit easier to use.
Slash commands are short commands, typed into the search bar at the top of Microsoft Teams, which help you quickly take an action. They all start with a “/”—hence the name slash commands.
Slash commands in Microsoft Teams are divided into a few distinct categories:
1. Talk to someone else
The primary purpose of Microsoft Teams is to connect with your co-workers quickly, so naturally, there are slash commands for that:
/chat lets you quickly chat with another person. Type /chat, then their name, then the message and hit enter. Right now, you can only use to message an individual. It doesn’t work for chatting with a group or for sending a message to a team.
/call lets you quickly call another contact. Type /call + their name. A list will pop up as you type. Right now, you can only use this to call a Teams contact. It doesn’t work for calling a regular phone number, even if you have calling as part of your plan.
2. Change your status
Your status in Microsoft Teams lets your contacts know if you are available to talk. You can use slash commands to change your status quickly. Your choices are pretty straightforward:
- Change to available: /available
- Change to away: /away
- Change to busy: /busy
- Change to Do Not Disturb: /dnd
A quick note about Do Not Disturb: You’ll still get any messages sent to you while you’re set to this—you just won’t get the pop-up notification. You can set exceptions to this in your settings.
In some cases, you don’t need to use slash commands (or any other method) to change your status. Teams will do it for you:
- If you’ve been inactive for five or more minutes, you’ll automatically change to Away.
- If you are on a Teams call, your status will change to in a call.
- If you are in a Teams meeting and presenting, your status will change to Presenting, which has the same functionality as Do Not Disturb.
- If you have Teams as part of Office 365, Teams will update your status based on your calendar for meetings and sections blocked off as Out of Office.
2. Find posts quickly
The search in Microsoft Teams works pretty well for finding individual posts or chat messages. Slash commands can help you find a group of posts.
/unread pulls up a list of your unread items.
/mentions pulls up a list of any items where you’ve been @ tagged (or “mentioned”). This works both for posts you’ve been tagged in as an individual and posts where you’ve been tagged as part of a team. Note: You have to actually be tagged. It won’t find a post where someone wrote your name without tagging you.
/saved pulls up a list of your saved items (both messages posted in a Team and chat messages). To save an item to this list, click the little ribbon icon on the top right of the post you want to save. Your saved items are private.
4. Get stuff done
/files helps you search for a specific file to open within Teams. These don’t necessarily need to be files you’ve already uploaded or used in Teams—it’ll search your OneDrive, too. Using the search bar without the /files command will still pull up files (in addition to posts and people), but those will only be files in Microsoft Teams.
/goto helps you jump to a specific channel or team within Teams. This is one of the most useful commands if you’re a member of multiple active teams. Type /goto and hit either the spacebar or enter. It’ll pull up a list of places for you to jump to, or you can type in the name.
/join helps you join a new channel. If you type /join and hit spacebar or enter, a list of public teams within your organization will come up. Selecting one of these will join the team, so click with care. If you accidentally join a team and want to leave, find the channel in the left bar, hit the three dots icon and select “Leave the Team.”
/wiki adds a note to your personal wiki (basically a notes section). Type /wiki + your note, then hit enter. Hit enter again to jump to the wiki. This only works for your personal wiki. Each team and channel has a wiki where you can take notes as a group. You can tag other people and chat directly within the wiki.
4. Learn more about your teammates
If you’re working in a small business, you probably already know who everyone is and what they do. But in an enterprise setting, or you are new in your roles, that’s a lot tougher—this group of slash commands can help. These commands give you insight into who your coworkers are, where they fit into your organization, and what they’re doing in Teams.
/who initiates a chat with the Who Bot. You can use this bot to bring up a contact card for a particular person, and dig into their role in the company structure (like who they report to, who their peers are). You can also use this slash command and bot to find out who has posted about a particular topic and who you’ve interacted with on a topic. Type /who + your question and hit enter to start the chat.
/activity shows you a contact’s recent Teams activity. Type /activity + a person’s name and hit enter. This respects permissions and privacy, so you won’t see anything you don’t have permission to view.
/org shows you where someone lives in your company’s org chart. Type /org + a person’s name and hit enter and you’ll be shown their section of the org chart, including who they report to, who their peers are, and who reports to them.
5. Learn more about Teams
If you don’t know how to do something in Teams, there are a few slash commands that can help you:
/help lets you ask a question for how to do something in teams. Type /help + your question (like /help how do I add a contact?). This will initiate a chat with T-bot, the Microsoft Teams help bot.
/keys opens up a list of keyboard shortcuts in Teams. Keyboard shortcuts are another type of shortcut that can be used without the search bar. A good keyboard shortcut to use with slash commands? Control + e, which jumps to the search bar at the top.
/whatsnew jumps to a tab of recent product announcements. Since Teams is still a relatively new Microsoft product and is continuously being updated with new features, this is a good way to see what has been added recently.
A few random notes and tips:
If you forget any of these commands, you can just type / into the search bar and a list of all slash commands will pull up.
Slash commands don’t work on mobile at the moment. They do work on the desktop app and the browser version of Teams.
If you’re using a slash command that involves multiple steps (like /who), pause for a moment after typing the initial command to allow it to process. While testing these commands for this blog post, I found that if I typed too quickly, it wouldn't work.
Microsoft Teams is still a relatively new product and is being updated with new features all the time. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the list of slash commands grow as new features are added—so keep an eye out!