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How to use Microsoft Teams

Do you need an effective communications platform capable of connecting up to 500,000 individuals in a single team along with channels, threaded posts, and chat and video call options to rival Slack and Skype for Business? How about one that’s seamlessly incorporated into the Microsoft 365 productivity cloud and its suite of useful applications? Then Microsoft Teams has everything you’re looking for and much more.

With both educational and business interactions increasingly moving online, it is more crucial than ever to effectively communicate and organize with large groups to achieve common goals, impart knowledge, and create a productive environment for work and learning. Read on to find out more about how to use Microsoft Teams.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Created by Microsoft as a collaboration app, Teams combines the best features from Microsoft Classroom and Skype for Business to create a program capable of file storage, app integration, video conferencing, instant messaging, VOIP calling, and granular organization of team and collaborators. Currently hovering at around 115 million daily users as of late October 2020, Teams is attempting to create a one-stop-shop for workplace communication and team-based collaborations in a wide variety of environments.

The free Teams app’s main components consist of the synonymous Teams, Chat, Channels, Calls, Activity, and Meetings. A Teams account lets the account holder invite participants via email or a custom URL and organize them into groups, communities, and other Teams as needed. Channels allow team members to communicate publicly or directly without using SMS, share documents and other content, and connect to 3rd-party services like Bing News, Facebook pages, and Twitter.

Chat lets users communicate one-on-one while providing persistent messages with no need to check the history, initiate group chats, and share files. In contrast, Calls lets users call a fellow Team member on the phone registered to their account (if enabled), even if they are not using Teams at the time. Meetings helps users schedule and track daily and weekly appointments and connects with Outlook calendar, whereas Activities keeps them kept up-to-date on @mentions, replies, messages, and other notifications.

How to use Microsoft Teams

The basic Teams account is free to use, and the app can either be downloaded on your PC, used at, or your Android or iOS mobile device. We’ll cover the service’s basic functions and show you how to master Teams with a few simple steps.

How to create a Team

Image of Microsoft Teams Create Team Button
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

Step 1: Log in on the mobile app, desktop, or browser, locate and select the Teams tab on the left side, then click Join or Create A Team at the bottom of the screen.

Step 2: Choose whether to create a team From Scratch or From A Group Or Team to add any existing group or team contacts. Select Private, Public, or Org-wide for your Team’s privacy level, then enter a name and description.

Step 3: Select Create Team to finish the process.

How to start a Microsoft Teams Chat or Group Chat

Image of Microsoft Teams New Chat And More Options Button
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

Step 1: Locate and select the Chat tab on the left-hand side, then click New Chat at the screen’s top.

Step 2: Enter your contacts’ names, compose your message, and click the send arrow.

Note that you can “pop-out” Chats into separate windows or pin them by selecting the More Options icon and selecting Pop-Out Chat or Pin, respectively. Starting a Group Chat is identical to the process above, except for assigning a name to the group and adding participants manually in the To field or via the Add People button. You can also select the Schedule a Meeting button directly from a Chat.

How to schedule a Meeting in Microsoft Teams

Image of Microsoft Teams Meetings Tab And Setup Meeting Buttons
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

Step 1: Open the Meetings tab on the left-hand side and select Meet Now or Schedule A Meeting in the window’s center.

Step 2: Input your meeting details, including meeting name, time, and duration, then click Schedule.

Step 3: Share your meeting by either selecting Copy Meeting Information or Share Via Google Calendar.

How to share your screen in Microsoft Teams

Step 1: While in a Teams meeting, click Share in the center of the screen, then select the window, document, or screen to share.

Step 2: When finished, click Stop Sharing in the bottom right.

Note that a red border appears around any content that you are actively sharing.

How to share a file on Teams

Step 1: From a chat window, select the Attach icon resembling a paperclip and click either OneDrive or Upload From My Computer or copy and paste the sharing URL into the compose message box. Sharing files is exactly the same for channels, but the Attach options also include Recent and Browse Teams And Channels.

Step 2: After the file finishes attaching, select Send to share your file.

How to video call on Teams

Step 1: From your chat list, and select the New chat button.

Step 2: Enter the name or names of your contacts into the To field at the top of the chat.

Step 3: Select the Video Call button resembling a camera to start a call.

How to check your messages and notifications on Teams

The Activity feed helps users by serving as a one-stop-shop for viewing all messages, @mentions, team/channel mentions, whether you joined or were given control of a team, replies to your posts as well as posts you’ve liked, suggested posts, and trending posts. You will receive a notification in both the Chat menu and Activity feed when you receive a message, but other notifications can be found only under Activities.

Any DMs sent between individuals or groups will remain private whereas sending a message in a channel will cause a notification to appear in your Activity feed. Channel messages can also help you send preview cards that detail activities on the Teams app.

How to change your settings on Teams

While Teams offers a plethora of options including language, keyboard shortcuts, and app settings, here’s how to set up the three most important settings. Namely, how to change your profile picture, configure your privacy settings, and choose a theme. You can open Settings by selecting your account icon in the upper right corner of the Teams app and clicking the Settings button.

How to change your profile picture on Teams

Step 1: From the Teams app, Select your account icon in the upper right corner to open the main menu and click Edit Profile.

Step 2: Select the Upload Picture button to open a File Upload window.

Step 3: Select your new image and click the Open button to upload your phone, then select Save.

How to change your privacy settings on Teams

Step 1: From the Teams app, select your account icon in the upper right corner to open the main menu and click Settings.

Step 2: Select the Security tab to adjust your security settings, including Do not disturb, Manage priority access, block calls with no ID, edit your blocked caller list, toggle Read Receipts for messages, and whether you participate in Teams surveys. Note that if you change the Read Receipt settings, you will have to close all chats for the settings to take hold.

How to choose a theme on Teams

Step 1: From the Teams app, Select your account icon in the upper right corner to open the main menu and click Settings.

Step 2: Select the General tab and decide between Default, Dark, and High Contrast.

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