Slack is rapidly becoming the best-in-class workplace communication tool, with 10 million users and growing. With an estimated 1,500 apps integrated on the platform, the question isn’t what you can do on Slack — it’s what can’t you do, and how long it’ll take for an app to meet that need.
But a tool is only as good as its user, and some of Slack’s more sophisticated features aren’t as widely used or as widely known as they should be. With that said, here are 10 must-know tips to up your Slack game.
1. All Unreads. Instead of jumping from channel to channel to clear all your unread messages, use Slack’s All Unreads feature. Check the All Unreads line in the sidebar to see a complete list of everything you haven’t read yet, organized by channel and thread.
All Unreads also allows you to be strategic about when you check Slack. “We coach everyone to turn off notifications as much as they can and then set an alarm to check Slack,” says CEO of Finder U.S., Jon Brodsky. “On any given day, I get two or three thousand Slack notifications. If I checked every notification, I’d be on Slack all day.” All Unreads allows people like Jon to quickly catch up on what he missed.
2. Turn things off quickly. Sometimes, you need to go heads down and avoid any distractions for a period of time. To do this on the fly, type “/dnd” and add an amount of time in the Slack message box. Got an important call? Sending “/dnd for 20 minutes” will keep all notifications at bay until you’re done. Or if you know you need a distraction-free morning you could type “/dnd until 1:00” for virtual silence until after lunch. If you need to toggle back on sooner than expected, you can just send “/active” to revert back.
3. Know the search tricks. Need to find a message from a co-worker from a few months back? Instead of scrolling endlessly through all your messages, type “from:username” in the search bar to quickly browse messages from a specific person. Or if something is starred, try “has: star” to view only those messages. Slack also lets you search by channel, by date, search for messages with links, and more. For a full list of the search commands you can type “+” in the search box.
4. Bookmark your place in a channel. Say your team is having an important Slack conversation that you want to keep track of, but you have to step away from your desk for a while. No worries — you can save your place in a channel. Just press Option (or Alt for Windows users) and click the message you want to set as a bookmark. This will mark everything after it as unread, so you can jump right back where you left off without missing a beat.
5. Be notified of important keywords. If you’ve got a specific project you run point on or you’re the contact person for a client, create alerts for when certain words show up in a channel. Just go to Preferences and add the words you want to keep track of (separated by commas) in “my keywords” under notification settings, and never miss an important conversation.
6. Utilize Slackbot. Slackbot is the Siri of Slack: it can answer your questions, set reminders, or even program simple auto responses. Best of all, using it is pretty intuitive. To ask Slackbot questions, just shoot it a direct message. If you need a reminder, type “/remind” into the chat along with the message and a time. Another command to remember is “/remind list” — this shows you all the active reminders you have set. After your Workspace Owner or Admin enables this option, you can program Slackbot to add custom responses right from the Customize Your Workspace page.
7. Put your emojis to work. Although emojis are great for indicating tone or just brightening up text conversations, they can also serve important purposes in Slack. Designating certain emojis with specific meaning can streamline workflows and feedback. “We use a lot of custom emojis as shorthand for ‘great job’ or ‘please look at this!’” says Brodsky. “That way you don’t have 10 people all saying ‘nice work’ all in a row.” Also, if you don’t want to use any of Slack’s selection of emojis, you can create your own by opening up the Slack menu and clicking Customize.
8. Know how to find the keyboard shortcuts. If you’re finding all the keyboard shortcuts too much to remember, don’t worry. You only need to remember one: hit “⌘+/”on Mac or “Ctrl+/” on Windows to pull up a full list of the keyboard shortcuts.
9. Need help? Know where to look. As with all digital tools, problems without immediate answers will arise. But luckily for its users, Slack has plenty of help readily available. Nearly every question you might have likely has an easy-to-find answer in the Slack Help Center.
We hope these helped! Happy Slack-ing!