If you’re one of the millions of people around the world now working from home, you’ve probably had to become quickly acquainted with Microsoft Teams.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the real-time collaborative communications tool has seen huge gains in both stock price and daily users, with as many as 44 million people now logging in to it every day. It’s a fantastic tool in these times of remote working, helping teams stay connected, share documents and get stuff done.

You’ve no doubt found your way around the basics, but Microsoft Teams has some handy, lesser-known features you might want to explore…

1. Transcribe or video your meeting

You’re probably used to having someone sat in meetings taking minutes, noting down everything that’s been said and providing a documented record of who was present and what was agreed. With Microsoft Teams, you can free up this duty with the ultra-handy ‘Transcribe’ feature, which turns your video conference into a written document with minimal effort. Perhaps you’ve got team members who are unable to attend but who need to be kept in the loop. Maybe some of your team have got connectivity issues but need to know what’s been said. Or maybe you just need to keep a written log of every meeting. In these situations, the Microsoft Teams transcription function is going to be your best friend.

How to do it:

As an admin, you can turn on an auto-transcribe function by going to:

  • Teams Admin Centre > Meetings > Meeting policies
  • In the Global policy option turn on Transcription.

With this enabled, whenever you record a meeting you will also get the option to automatically generate a transcription.  If you’re not an admin, the Captions function will work well as a transcript. As soon as your meeting or call begins, start recording it.

You can do this by:

  • Going to the meeting controls and select the More options ‘…’ button
  • Select Start recording
  • When the call has finished, hang up by hitting the red phone icon and the recording will automatically save to Microsoft

To view your video in Microsoft Stream:

  • Select the More options ellipsis ‘…’ > Edit
  • Select the language
  • This will generate a transcription, or ‘Caption’ file


2. Turn off read receipts

When you’ve got a bulk email to send out, or messages being sent back and forth between your team members, you don’t necessarily want to be getting hundreds of pingbacks letting you know they have been read. Luckily, Microsoft has given you the option of turning off this function in Teams.

How to do it:

  • Go to Teams and click on your profile picture
  • Select Settings > Privacy
  • Toggle to turn off/on Read receipts


3. Access shortcuts quickly using / in search bar

Sometimes you need to be able to move quickly, especially when you’re in a meeting of 150 people and all eyes are on you while you’re trying to implement one function or another. You don’t want that dead air, with everyone staring at you and twiddling their thumbs while you go the long way about sharing a document or zooming in on a whiteboard.

You can easily access the keyboard shortcuts list from within Teams, making implementing certain functions quick and easy.

How to do it:

  • Press Ctrl+E or navigate to the Search field
  • Then type /keys and press Enter


4. Mute group chats

If you’re working in Teams, you don’t necessarily need to see or be notified about actions that are being taken in group chats you’re not currently participating in. Muting those chats is fairly straightforward.

How to do it:

  • Navigate to a channel that shows in your Teams list
  • Select More options > Channel notifications
  • From there, you can choose which activity you get notifications for, and where they show up

To mute notifications for a specific chat:

  • Open the chat you want to mute
  • Navigate to the top of the conversation and select More options ‘…’
  • Turn off notifications

If you need a prolonged period of quiet, uninterrupted time in Microsoft Teams, you might want to consider changing your presence to ‘Do no disturb’. This won’t alter your notification settings, but it will mute all notifications until you change your presence back.

To do this:

  • Click on your profile image
  • Under the username go to Available
  • Click on Available and then select Do not disturb from the pop-up


5. Access from any device without the app

Sometimes there are times your teammates won’t be able to access Microsoft Teams through an app. Maybe they’re working on an old, incompatible bit of hardware. Perhaps they don’t have space on the family laptop for another download. Helpfully, Microsoft Teams works for most desktop browsers as well, including with full functionality in Chrome and Firefox.

How to do it:


6. Blurred background

There are so many reasons you might not want your background to be crystal clear to your colleagues or clients. Many people will be fine with potential leads seeing the artwork or family photos hanging on the wall behind them, or the pile of laundry waiting in the corner of the room, but many others won’t. The Microsoft Teams Blur background function is a fantastic addition that can save all manner of embarrassments.

How to do it:

  • When you join a meeting, click on your audio and video settings screen
  • Choose the ellipsis ‘…’ for more options
  • Tap on Blur my background


7. See all participants

One of Microsoft Teams’ most widely-accepted limitations is the ability to see only four video participants at any one time. Even Microsoft knows this is something they need to rectify, and they are apparently working hard behind the scenes to roll out a better solution (they even piloted a nine-screen version last year, but that hasn’t yet materialized as a standard feature). Until Microsoft can get this sorted, it is possible to at least see a list of all the participants in each meeting.

How to do it:

  • Go to Manage Team.
  • Click on the ellipsis ‘…’ and choose View members


8. High priority alerts

Sometimes you have something you need your colleagues to see urgently. More than that, you need to know that everybody who needs to see it has seen it. The priority notification feature is invaluable in these situations. Setting a priority alert on a message will automatically resend an alert to the user every 2 minutes for 20 minutes, or until such a time as the recipient opens the message.

How to do it:

  • When you have composed your message, select the Set Delivery Options ‘!’ underneath the message
  • Select the ‘Urgent’ option
  • Send your message as normal


So there it is, our easy user guide tips on some of Teams top functions that not everyone knows, but love as soon as they do!



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