What is Microsoft Teams?

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Aina Prat Blasi
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Microsoft Teams is Office's answer to productivity chat apps like Slack. Used correctly, it can be an effective coordination tool for both individuals and organizations. Here's what it is and how to use it.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a productivity, chat and coordination app available as part of Microsoft 365, the online Office suite of products, and also as a standalone product. You don't need Microsoft 365 to use Teams, although some of its features require a download.

Microsoft Teams is available both as a standalone application that you can download, and as a web app that you can log into with your Microsoft account and use through a browser. It lets you share files via OneDrive, chat with members of the groups you create, and otherwise coordinate your efforts.

How to download Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is available for free from Microsoft or included with a Microsoft 365 subscription. You will need a Microsoft account to sign up as part of Teams or to sign in. If you have an Xbox Live account, a Hotmail account or a Skype account, this can be used as a Microsoft account; your Windows password no.

After logging in or downloading, you will be prompted to create a team. You can create a team by finding other MS Teams members or inviting people to join using their emails. When you create a team, you will be asked to give it a name and configure the privacy settings. Once set up, you will find the team you created on the left side of the screen.

  • How to install and configure Microsoft Teams for Mac
  • Download, install and use Microsoft Teams on Linux
  • Download, install and use Microsoft Teams on PC (Windows and Mac)

What tools are in Microsoft Teams?

When you log into Teams, on the far left, you'll find four tabs: Activities, Chat, Teams, and Files.

Activity is simply a summary of all activity on the website since the last login. Chat allows you to chat privately with a team member. Teams allows you to select the team you are working with. File is an archive of files that you want to share with your team and otherwise archive.

Microsoft Teams has three main tabs in Teams; the first is Conversation, a chat tool that allows you to share files and messages with others. This includes both productivity-related items and lighter files like funny GIFs. It works like other chat tools like Skype or Facebook Messenger.

The second tab, Files, allows you to upload individual files and edit them collaboratively. You can upload a wide variety of files, including open source formats, and you can open conversations about them.

The third, and most distinctive feature, is Wiki. This allows you to create a dynamic document that anyone on the team can edit. Ideal for style guides, meeting rules, up-to-date reports and similar documents.

Select the Plus (+) and you can add more cards if your team needs to work with them, like EverNote or YouTube. These allow you to add a specific file as a tab. For example, if you need to watch a YouTube video, you can add it as a tab and the team can reference it without having to keep it open in a separate browser tab.

You must first install the app to use the tab function.

Teams is effective for small groups working on projects. Whether it's a social event you're hosting or something for work, consider Teams a productivity and collaboration tool.

Further Reading:

  • How to install and use Microsoft Teams on Fire Stick
  • How to block contact in Microsoft Teams
  • How to install and configure Microsoft Teams for Mac
  • How to remove your profile picture from Microsoft Teams on mobile and PC
  • Download, install and use Microsoft Teams on Linux

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