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How to use Slack and the Top 10 Slack “How Tos” for 2019

Blog How We Chat April 23, 2019
What to do with Slack users when migrating from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams?
Joe Beutler


How to use Slack and the Top 10 Slack “How Tos” for 2019

How to use Slack and the top 10 Slack "How Tos"

From “How to use Slack” on its own to “How to use Slack with Microsoft Teams,” there’s a lot of questions constantly being asked about Slack.

We’ve put together the top 11 “How To” questions facing Slack users today so that you can get started.

#1 – How to use Slack (setting up)

Let’s start with the basics.

To get started, you’ll need to sign up on the website with an email address and password.

When you want to add people to your team, you can do so individually, or in bulk through the admin page. Those users will be able to access the web-based version of your Slack Workspace, as well as versions on the mobile or desktop apps.

When you’re set up as an administrator, you can begin adjusting settings. For instance, your messaging restrictions set who is allowed to send @channel notifications to your users.

If you’re running a large public room, you might want to restrict these notifications to admin employees.

Another setting you’ll need to address is channel management. You don’t want to allow all of your users to create their own channels. Set up a few groups, to begin with, and give creation powers to the people responsible for moderating your experience.

How to sign up to Slack
Signing up to Slack; image via tutspluscom

#2 – How to manage Slack notifications

The first time you log in, all notifications will be enabled.

That’s great for some people – but a little overwhelming for others.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to eliminate app overload. You can choose which channels you want to get notifications from and ignore the others. Just go to Channel Notification Preferences in your settings tab.

You’ll also be able to set notifications to arrive in your inbox (or on your computer screen), whenever someone mentions a specific keyword. To do this, go to the Notifications tab and enter the keywords you want to keep track of.

manage Slack notifications

#3 – How to find Slack messages and people

Search is a crucial feature in any team-based tool.

Slack comes with a handy search function that you can use to track down people, channels, or even specific messages. To make the most out of your experience, try using some search modifiers. For instance:

  • In:[@name] will search for direct messages with a specific person
  • From: “me” will look for messages sent by you
  • In:[Channel] will examine messages in a particular channel
  • Before:[Date] and After:[Date] will search for messages in a certain time frame
  • From:[@Name] looks for content from a particular user
Slack search
Slack search

Remember, if you’re concerned about losing any messages, you can always pin a file to a specific channel. Just open the message actions and click on “Pin to #Channel.” You can access your pinned content by clicking on the pin icon underneath the channel name.

#4 – How to set up Slack integrations

Slack supports integrations with hundreds of different applications. That makes it excellent for any company that uses a range of tools for collaboration and communication. You can connect apps critical to your business like:

  • Egnyte
  • Cisco Webex Meetings
  • Hive
  • BlueJeans
  • Lifesize
  • Google Hangouts
  • Talkdesk

To install your integrations, you’ll need to visit the integrations page. From there, the process is as simple as clicking a button for the tools that you want to use. However, it’s important not to add too many features at once. You don’t want to flood your channels or confuse your employees.

Slack app directory
Slack app directory

#5 – How to customize your Slack appearance

Once you’re starting to feel settled, you might decide that you want to customize the appearance. Most users think that Slack has to be purple, but there is a variety to choose from.

To adjust the appearance, go to the Preferences tab on your sidebar, and select Sidebar Theme. If you’re feeling particularly creative, there is an option to make a theme of your own, which you can share with your employees.

As well as personalizing your theme, you can also adjust your emoji styles, and add custom emojis too. This makes for a fun way to make your app experience more unique.

Slack also recently rolled out the highly requested dark mode. Users can choose to run dark mode, similar to the UI of Twitter.

Customizing the sidebar

How to customize your Slack appearance

#6 – How to make voice and video calls

To start a call, you’ll need to be in a direct message conversation with a group or person.

From here, you can hit the phone icon on the top of your screen. You’ll be able to choose between video or standard audio call. Video calls are available on Windows, Linux, and Mac devices.

Once in a call, you can invite others to join via the “invite people” option.

Making a voice or video call
Slack calling

For full blown video conferencing there are a number of integrations to utilize like:

  • appear.in
  • Cisco Webex Meetings
  • Google Hangouts
  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • BlueJeans
  • Starleaf
  • Trueconf
  • Dialpad

You can also check out this video demonstrating the video conferencing experience built into Slack:

Slack video conferencing

TIP: If you decide you want to launch a call later, set yourself a reminder with the /remind command. You can have Slackbot remind you, and someone else on your team that it’s time for your conversation by adding them with an @ mention.

#7 – How to use format Slack messages

Existing users likely know about the basic text-formatting commands available. Underscores around your words send them in italics, while asterisks create a bold font. However, there are some additional ways to transform your text too. For instance:

  • Tildes (~) create a strike-through effect
  • Angled brackets (>) in front of text place it in block-quote format
  • Three angled brackets (>>>) block-quotes an entire message
  • A back-tick (`) creates emphasis by turning your text red (technically it’s for fixed-wide code)
Formatting messages
Formatting messages

#8 – How to collaborate in Slack

Slack has a built-in document editor that lets team members collaborate with ease. Hitting the + symbol next to any message box in a thread or channel opens the door for instant collaboration.

You can also format your text with the tips above while you’re at it. When you’re done, just hit the green Share button to select where the post needs to go.

If you’re working on something related to graphic design, you can type a six-character hex code next to a hashtag. This puts a color swatch next to your message.

Remember, there’s always the option to share your computer screen with other users too. While you’re sharing, you can allow other people to draw on your screen, or even take control. Just use the phone icon to start a call, then click on the circle icon with the computer monitor in the middle.

Screen sharing
Screen sharing

#9 – How to use Slackbot

If you want a robot assistant in your Slack channels, there are plenty of different tools to help you.

The most obvious option is to use the Slackbot already built into your Slack account. Slackbot is there to answer your questions, give you personal reminders, and let you know about your upcoming tasks.

Slack also offers a helpful guide on how best to alter your Slackbot experience here.


If you want to get more technical with your bots, you can build specialized AI’s using API kits, or just download a bot from the list of Slack Integrations available. Visit the Slack API page to find out more.

#10 – How to block Slack

Don’t block Slack until you’ve tried at least these three things and the best alternative.

#Bonus – How to sync with Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex Teams

When there are people in your team using a tool other than Slack to communicate and collaborate, how do you make sure that all of your employees are in sync?

You could try to phase them out. Or ignore them and create needless shadow IT. You could use integrations that tie up part of the messaging experience – but that will likely mean lots of app switching between platforms.

The easiest option is to coordinate your conversations with Mio.

With Mio, you can align your employees so that people on Webex Teams or Microsoft Teams see messages sent through Slack, and vice versa.

Say you post a message in a Slack channel called “Marketing”. Mio hears that message via the Slack API, then delivers it via the Webex or Microsoft API as the original user. When it’s coming back the other way, Mio hears the message via the Webex or Microsoft API, and translates it into the Slack API format and posts to the user. See this working in the video below.

The same is applicable to direct messaging. A user token allows Mio to listen to and send messages.

If a user named Rebekah wants to use Webex Teams as her primary messaging app, when a Slack user sends Rebekah a message, it comes to Mio first. Mio then delivers it to Rebekah on Webex as the Slack user, via the API.

It’s an easy way to keep your teams in sync, regardless of whether they’re using Slack or one of their other favorite collaboration tools.

For the technical bits, find out more about how Mio works here.

If you want to know more now, select your the tool you’re most likely to combine with Slack below.

Get Started Slack Webex
Get started with Slack and Teams
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