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Best Microsoft Teams Features: 55 We Use in 2023

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Best Microsoft Teams Features: 55 We Use in 2023

Microsoft Teams features

New to Microsoft Teams?

Experienced Teams user and want to get more from your productivity stack?

If only there were some under-the-radar Microsoft Teams features you could get your hands on.

Good news.

In this post, we look at some of the best-hidden features on Microsoft Teams that will help you get the most out of your app.

Microsoft Teams current state

Microsoft announced in April 2023 that Teams reached 300 million monthly active users. The number of people active on Teams is skyrocketing, and engagement is through the roof. 

Since Microsoft Teams emerged in 2017, it has been gaining unprecedented popularity. Built to replace Skype for Business, Teams offers everything teams need. Employees get one-on-one conversations, group messaging, video meetings, and audio calls. 

Teams is a valuable part of the Microsoft 365 environment. The service integrates with Outlook, Word, SharePoint, and other Microsoft apps.

If you’re already using Microsoft productivity tools, Teams is a natural fit.

What are the features of Microsoft Teams?

Before we dig into 29 hidden gems, here are 25 of the more “standard” features of Microsoft Teams:

  1. One-to-one chat (messaging)
  2. Group chat
  3. Contact search
  4. Conversation search
  5. @Mentions
  6. Access control
  7. Activity feed 
  8. Assistant bots
  9. High contrast mode & other accessibility features
  10. Channel-based working
  11. Message threads
  12. Channel favoriting and following
  13. Customizable alerts
  14. Emojis, GIFs, and stickers
  15. Multi-factor authentication
  16. Microsoft Teams meetings
  17. Meeting scheduling
  18. Microsoft 365 integrations
  19. Microsoft Teams integrations with third-party tools
  20. Tabs for frequently used apps
  21. Audio conferencing
  22. File sharing
  23. Screen sharing
  24. Usage reports
  25. Together mode

Microsoft Teams features for team productivity

Teams is designed to boost productivity by improving the flow of information in your business.

Making sure different groups throughout your business can communicate can improve productivity.

In a Salesforce blog, Nick Stein wrote that 86% of employees cite a lack of collaboration for workplace failures.

Let’s start with the Microsoft Teams features that drive results for your entire team.

26 – Teams Connect

At Microsoft Ignite in March 2021, Microsoft announced a shared channels play much like Slack Connect.

With Teams Connect, you’ll be able to share channels with anyone, internal or external to your organization.

Teams Connect is one of the latest Microsoft Teams features

Microsoft says “the shared channel will appear within an individual’s primary Teams tenant alongside other teams and channels.”

Teams Connect is now live and available to anyone with a paid Teams license.

27 – Tabs

Often, the best Teams apps are those built in to Teams itself.

Tabs in Microsoft Teams allow businesses to display rich and interactive web content to their teams.

There are two kinds of tabs on Teams:

  • Static tabs: These support individual users. You might have a tab that allows employees to make personal notes as they work.
  • Configurable tabs: These are part of your Teams channel. They offer ongoing information and guidance to teams.
Microsoft Teams tabs

28 – Microsoft Immersive Reader

This is one of those Microsoft Teams features that is often overlooked as a capability reserved for educational institutions.

The immersive reader speaks the text on a channel aloud at varying speeds.

If you’re struggling to focus on a piece of text, or you need to grab information while your eyes are focused elsewhere, the Immersive Reader is useful functionality.

Click on the 3 dots on any message and select the reader from your drop-down menu.

This 90-second video from Microsoft shows you how to use Immersive Reader.

29 – Activity filtering with @ mentions

It’s challenging staying productive when your eye is always on the real-time chat feed in Microsoft Teams.

Fortunately, you can filter the content you see with @Mentions.

This Microsoft Teams feature allows you to separate your personal messages and to-do lists from other less relevant conversations.

The activity filter ensures that you stay up to date with the right information without facing the threat of information overwhelm.

Microsoft Teams features

30 – Bookmark specific content

Want to make sure you can find the information you need in a hurry?

Teams comes with the option to bookmark specific pieces of content, whether it’s a message or an attachment.

You can classify the content as important then spend less time searching for crucial data.

In many businesses, there’s a constant stream of information moving through a chat app at any time.

Bookmarking your content helps you to cut through the noise and find the data you need.

See the below screenshot where the final message has a pink highlight on the right-hand side.

Microsoft Teams features

Teams Search and Filter is useful for finding content too.

Microsoft Teams Search and Filter

31 – Get work done fast with slash commands

If you want to get work done fast, then you need to make sure that you’re navigating Microsoft Teams as efficiently as possible.

One great way to do this is with slash commands.

For instance, you can use a slash command to set your status to “online” or “away”.

Alternatively, you can make sure you’re not missing out on anything important with /WhatsNew.

This takes you straight to the Release Notes tab on the T-bot channel, so you can check out new features.

Some of the best slash commands include:

  • /Files – Shows the most recent files shared with you on Teams.
  • /GoTo – Lets you jump straight to a channel
  • /Call – Initiates a call with someone else on Teams
  • /Help – Delivers assistance via T-bot
  • /Saved – Takes you to your saved messages

Type / into Teams to see other options.

32 – Access a personalized view of apps and contacts

There’s a reason why today’s employees love using specific apps to get work done.

We all feel more productive if we’re getting a personalized, familiar experience from our tools.

Fortunately for Teams users, it’s now possible to create a 100% unique environment just for you.

For example, you can access the “Personal App Space” to see all the items and tasks assigned to you from apps like Planner, or Jira Cloud.

The Personal Apps space also includes a “Who” tab, which allows you to search for people in your contacts by topic or name.

Click on the “…” in your left-hand navigation menu to see the personal apps space.

Access a personalized view of apps and contacts

Speaking of making your Microsoft Teams end user experience more personalized, don’t forget that you can also change your theme too.

Click on the general section of the app settings to implement “dark mode” for your mobile devices.

33 – Hide and show teams to stay organized

It’s easier to get work done when you have structured lists of channels to work through.

The features that used to be “Favorite” and “Remove from Favorites” on Microsoft Teams were recently upgraded to “Show” and “Hide“.

This Microsoft Teams feature is particularly valuable for people that want to avoid information overwhelm.

You can choose which channels and teams you want to see and hide the rest from your UI.

Although you’ll still get notifications when someone @Mentions you, your teams list won’t be nearly as cluttered.

Click on the “…” next to a team or channel name in your list, then click on More Options.

Select Hide to make the team or channel invisible or scroll to the bottom of your page to find Hidden teams that you want to see again.

Hide and show Teams to stay organized

34 – Meeting whiteboards

Any meeting in Microsoft Teams can now access a whiteboard.

Here, participants can sketch together and share ideas.

Whiteboard sketching comes with different pen colors and graph options for visual collaboration. 

Microsoft Whiteboard

You can collaborate with meeting participants on Whiteboard via Microsoft Teams. There’s also the option to use the Whiteboard app.

In both apps, you can draw, erase, and share content in real time. The whiteboard tab is available before or after a meeting. 

People without pen or touchscreen access can contribute with typed text.

35 – Microsoft Teams virtual backgrounds

People using video conferencing on Teams can change their backgrounds to either blur the background or replace it completely.

If you’ve got a messy environment behind you, blur it before or during a meeting.

Select Background effects in your audio and video settings. Choose Blur to blur your background. Everything behind you will meld together. 

Microsoft Teams background blur

You can also replace your background.

Choose one of the virtual background images available from Microsoft, upload your own, or download a premium pack.

Microsoft Teams virtual background

Your background will stay the same in all calls until you change it. To change a background in a meeting, click … then Show background effects.

Microsoft Teams features for knowledge sharing

Ever noticed how difficult it is to keep track of information in your business when you’re relying on email to share files, documents, and content?

With countless emails that end up lost in spam folders or the wrong inbox, it’s easy to lose essential messages.

A Forbes article wrote that this problem results in countless employees spending up to 2.5 hours struggling with email each day.

Here are some Microsoft Teams features that make it easier to manage your knowledge base.

36 – Microsoft Teams connectors

Connectors keep groups ahead of the curve by delivering updates from the services that you typically use.

Rather than asking your teams to find information from Twitter, Trello, Wunderlist, and so on, you can connect those streams straight to their channels.

Any member of a Microsoft Teams channel can connect their entire group to some of the most popular cloud services.

When Connectors are set up, all members of a chain will be notified when new messages appear.

Connectors are one of the lesser-known Microsoft Teams features

37 – Sync your SharePoint sites

One of the best things about Microsoft Teams is how easy it is to connect with tools you already use.

If you have SharePoint team sites that you want to bring into Microsoft Teams, you can.

Users can:

  • Add SharePoint pages and lists into Teams channels
  • Use the SharePoint news connector to stream news directly into channels
  • Add full SharePoint sites in Teams via the website tab
  • Include SharePoint document libraries as tabs in Teams
Microsoft Teams SharePoint

Microsoft has also announced that users will soon be able to create Teams for SharePoint sites by clicking on the “Create a Team” button in the left-hand corner of the site page.

38 – Make content private with information barriers

You need to make sure that you’re sharing the right information with the right people.

Information barriers will give you more control over your knowledge sharing strategy.

Information barriers allow business leaders to define which individuals can collaborate in Microsoft Teams.

Information barriers policies keep information isolated when you’re dealing with sensitive topics and conversations.

Make content private with information barriers

Microsoft Teams features for collaboration

The McKinsey Global Institute wrote how 80% of businesses today rely on social collaboration tools to enhance their business processes.

Whether you’re trying to keep your remote workers involved with what’s happening in your office, or you need to sync different departments, Teams can help.

The most obvious features for collaboration offered by Microsoft Teams include things like real-time messaging, video conferencing, and audio calls.

We’ve highlighted some Microsoft Teams features that are less obvious.

39 – Inline message translation

Not everyone feels comfortable working in English.

Inline message translation allows people to chat in their native tongue and translate messages into English for other users.

It’s an easy way to keep everyone on the same page – no matter their native tongue.

Microsoft Teams in line translation

40 – Cloud recording with automatic transcripts

We often overlook important meeting details in today’s fast-paced business world.

Fortunately, automatic transcription and cloud recording can help. This Microsoft Teams feature allows you to record your meetings automatically and store them in the cloud.

Not only can you go back and listen to the conversations you had with your team, but the transcriptions are automated too. This makes it easier to find specific information with just a keyword or phrase.

Cloud recording and automatic translation

41 – Guest access

You don’t have to be a member of Microsoft Teams and Office 365 to connect via Teams.

Microsoft provides secure guest access so people in a business can connect with individuals outside of their organization.

Anyone with a consumer or business email account can join a chat. There’s also the option to view files and participate in meetings.

Guest access in Microsoft Teams is turned off by default, but it’s easy to access.

Microsoft provides a complete how-to guide to help you navigate the process. Once you’ve configured your guest access, team owners can adjust rules and permissions.

Guest access for external users in Microsoft Teams

Users of Skype for Business will be familiar with the federation capability. This is not identical but is the next best thing.

For details on the differences and the nuances users are experiencing, check out this post on switching between Microsoft Teams accounts for guest access.

42 – Use proximity sensing to join a meeting

Are you tired of the stress and extra work associated with setting up conferences or huddle room meetings?

Now you can connect to a nearby meeting room instantly, using proximity-based pairing.

Proximity-based pairing means that your Teams app will automatically detect Microsoft Teams room systems within Bluetooth range of your devices.

This means that you can find conference spaces quickly for spontaneous collaboration.

After you launch a Teams meeting, just browse through the available nearby room systems to find a space with the appropriate video and audio tech for your needs.

You can also start a session in content-only mode, which silences your smartphone microphone and blocks your camera.

Use proximity sensing to join a meeting

To learn more about how to set up a Microsoft Teams meeting, check out this post.

43 – Request for someone new to join your team

If you’re running a private channel on Teams, and you need to add a contractor or freelancer to that group, then you can now make a request on their behalf.

All you need to do is right-click on a channel name in and click on Add Member.

Here, you can search for new people you want to include in your channel, either by typing in their email address, or their name.

The owner of the channel will then get a notification letting them know that they have a new request.

Teams will also automatically send your new user an alert when they’re successfully given access to the Team.

Request for someone new to join your team

44 – Microsoft Teams Live Events

Teams users can broadcast live events to large audiences for events, meetings, and webinars to up to 1,000 users.

For one-to-many announcements, Live Events is a convenient feature and a better experience than asking everyone to join a meeting. 

Organizers can set attendee permissions and choose co-presenters. You’ll also have the option to share screens and windows in these broadcasts.

Presenters can record their events and share them through Microsoft Stream or Teams. 

Live Events is available for anyone with a Microsoft 365 Enterprise E1, E3, or E5 license. Office Education users with an A3 or A5 license can also use Live Events.

Your events can either be public or private.

Microsoft Teams features for developers & IT teams

Today’s teams are rarely looking for a one-size-fits-all solution to their problems.

The rise of APIs and CPaaS solutions shows how eager we are to access more customizable tools and apps.

Some of the best Microsoft Teams features are ideal for letting developers in your business shine.

45 – Renaming channels and changing emoji policy

IT Managers have the option to allow emoji usage in Microsoft Teams. You can also support Emojis all throughout Microsoft 365 productivity tools.

Emojis can make file labels and channel names more appealing. But, there’s a bug in the SharePoint service. 

Emojis will work to define channels in Teams, but not in SharePoint.

Renaming a channel won’t change the folder name in SharePoint either. It’s best to stay away from emojis to avoid SharePoint confusion.

46 – Hard audio mute and student control

Faculty need a way to reduce distractions in a learning environment.

Hard Audio Mute from Microsoft Teams stops students from unmuting themselves. Available for both education and enterprise packages, hard audio mute improves collaboration.

You can mute all participants from the participant pane.

When a student raises a hand to answer a question, admins have the option to remove the hard mute setting. 

Admins also have the option to control when students can join a meeting.

This keeps student-to-student and classroom interactions in a secure, designated time. Student lobbies give educators control over when students join a meeting

47 – Microsoft App Studio

Many organizations will download Teams, install their favorite plugins, and carry on with work as normal.

However, if you have specific requirements for your team, you might want to use the Microsoft App Studio.

Launched in January 2018, App Studio allows businesses and developers to design their own tools with Teams language. This makes it easy to augment your workflows with new capabilities and processes.

Microsoft App Studio

48 – Microsoft Teams bots

If you want to take advantage of artificial intelligence and easy automation features, try the pre-made Microsoft Teams bots.

Some of the best bots you might not know about yet include:

  • Polly: a simple bot that polls your team members and helps to keep track of employee engagement
  • Whobot: a bot that can answer questions about your colleagues like who knows about the current incentives for your sales team if you need help serving a customer
  • Grow Bot: a feature that encourages collaboration by allowing team members to exchange kudos
  • Stats bot: an analytics bot that delivers scheduled reports via sources like Google Analytics

49 – PSTN integration

You can now integrate your Microsoft Teams experience with PSTN calling.

There are multiple ways to do this, including Direct Routing, Operator Connect, and Microsoft Calling Plans.

The Calling Plans available from Microsoft allow you to integrate with PSTN through a cloud-based subscription. The benefit of this is that you don’t need any additional hardware.

On the other hand, if you want to stick with your existing PTSN trunk, you can try Direct Routing or Operator Connect.

These latter methods allow you to connect your PSTN to the Microsoft Teams Cloud PBX. You can use Direct Routing with any telephony provider and Operator Connect through any of the approved partners.

Microsoft Teams calling

50 – Adapt Microsoft Teams to suit your industry

Because different organizations run in their own unique ways, it’s safe to say that there’s no one-size-fits-all collaboration app for every group.

The good news is that you can customize Microsoft Teams to suit your industry, with developer templates specifically designed for your vertical. For instance, there are templates for:

  • Government agencies
  • Retail companies
  • Education groups
  • Healthcare (with HIPAA compliance)
  • First-line workers (Shifts)

You can contact Microsoft to find out more about adjusting your app to suit your industry. Or you can check out one of Microsoft’s quick-start guides online for Education admins.

Adapt Microsoft Teams to suit your industry

Microsoft Teams features for business leaders

If you’re a company leader looking to take your organization to the next level, you’ll need to know the best-hidden features for Microsoft Teams.

This means embracing tools that help with everything from analytics to company compliance.

51 – Analytics and BI in Microsoft Teams

It’s important to know how your employees are using their Microsoft Teams app.

Usage reports gathered by Microsoft give you an insight into adoption rates and user feedback. This is particularly useful if you’re implementing a new Microsoft Teams strategy and you want to plan a step-by-step rollout.

Teams reports are available in the Microsoft admin center. They offer overviews of how your teams use Teams, including information about the features they access most.

To view your reports, you’ll need to be a service admin in Teams. You can also be a Skype for Business admin or Office 365 global admin.

Go to the Teams admin center, click on Analytics and Reports, and choose the report you need.

Analytics and Reports

52 – Meeting recording for compliance

Recording Microsoft Teams meetings is a great way to make sure that you’re capturing crucial information for compliance purposes.

Recordings capture video, audio, and screen sharing activities at the same time. The meetings you record can also be saved to Stream, which means you can manage and download the content later.

Microsoft Stream

Recording meetings is helpful if you want to create department or company-wide announcements.

With your recordings, you can reveal information about news items, or create training videos for employees.

Click on the “…” in your channel and choose Start Recording.

53 – Manage frontline workers

As a relatively new addition to Microsoft Teams, this may still be a hidden feature to some companies. Now, you can address shift issues and arrange your work schedule within Teams channels.

Managers can easily plan where they need more support from specific staff members. There’s also the option for employees to make shift change requests.

The Shifts feature is switched on by default for most companies.

Just click on the “…” option and select Shifts to get started.

To access Shifts on mobile, you’ll need to expand your modular tray. You can pin Shifts to your nav bar for easy access.

Managing shift requests in Microsoft Teams

54 – Private channels

Control which individuals can collaborate and communicate in Teams by building private channels.

This is a valuable feature in financial companies where parts of your organization may not be permitted to see and share information.

Private channels were previewed at Enterprise Connect as a long-time request from Team users. This Microsoft Teams feature makes it easier to control how data is shared in an age where privacy and compliance are crucial.

You can see the differences between public and private channels in this video by Modality Systems.

55 – Message interoperability with other collab apps

If your business uses apps other than Microsoft Teams, how do you deal with people who prefer those and don’t check Teams?

There are likely two outcomes:

  1. Messages get ignored and people are unproductive
  2. Everyone keeps both chat apps open and people are unproductive

What you could do instead is use message interoperability to connect Microsoft Teams to apps like:

  • Slack
  • Webex
  • Zoom Chat

When your apps are connected, you can send cross-platform messages so everyone stays in their preferred chat app and gets on with their day.

User A sends a message from Teams and User B receives it on Webex.

It’s as simple as that.

Watch Mio CEO, Tom Hadfield, presenting how Microsoft Teams can connect to other platforms in this webinar for Microsoft partners:

If your business currently works in silos because people use different messaging apps, and the reality is that you can’t force everyone to use Teams, message interoperability offers the perfect solution.

And it’s not just text messages that are supported either.

Mio’s message interoperability supports the following functionality:

  • As well as a standard chat message, the following functionality is supported:
  • Message edits
  • Message threads
  • Message deletions
  • Channel messages
  • Group messages
  • GIFs and emojis
  • File uploads
  • Rich text formatting

So, instead of letting your users miss messages or forcing them to use an app they’re never going to try, check out how Mio connects Teams to other platforms.

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