16 tips for making the most out of Slack
Slack quickly became every startup’s favorite communication tool in 2014, and has since been adopted by teams big and small, and communities of all shapes and sizes. Its beautiful design and ease of use make it a tool that’s easy to adopt, and the ability to have all of your Slack communities in one place – on desktop or mobile – makes it a must-have for many.
Slack has especially become the number one go-to tool of remote teams as we learned when talking to the ten companies winning at remote culture, as it allows you to feel like your in the same room with a team dispersed around the world.
Although it makes many people reminiscent of the irc (Internet Relay Chat) days, don’t be fooled, Slack is much more than a simple messaging tool. By equipping yourself with the proper keyboard shortcuts, integrations and commands, Slack will help you be a more productive and effective worker. Here are 15 tips for making the most of it!
1) Quickly switch and hide channels to save time communicating
We all love keyboard shortcuts. It’s crazy how saving seconds at a time can add up. There’s a ton of Slack shortcuts that we’ll get into, but the most useful is definitely Quick Switch for switching back and forth between channels.
Hitting ⌘ + T on a Mac or CTRL + K on a Windows computer and type the first few characters and hit enter to quickly switch. It’s like Spotlight on OS X for Slack.
You can also hide channels you’re not regularly using, therefore avoiding distraction by going to your preferences.
Select the arrow next to your username in Slack, then preferences and advanced options and change the channel visibility.
2) Master all of the keyboard shortcuts
If you use the keyboard shortcut “Command + /” on Mac, or “Control + /” on Windows, it will pull up the keyboard shortcuts screen. We suggest choosing a few of your favorites to memorize, but you always have this cheat sheet to revisit!
3) Set reminders for yourself
Sometimes your team might ask you to do something in Slack, like assign them an Asana task for example. But you’re in the middle of something and afraid of distracting yourself. Instead of stopping what you’re working on completely, quickly set yourself a reminder to create the task (or schedule a call, write an email, etc.) by typing forward slash (/) and “remind” then type your reminder – i.e. “set Asana task for Chris to write post.”
4) Use / for all Commands
If you hit the “/” key in the compose window, it will bring up a list of commands. Use this to easily access any and all commands that you need, as well as to educate yourself on the myriad of commands available on Slack, such as setting yourself as away or muting a channel.
5) Link to previous messages
If you want to reference a past Slack message from a team member or yourself, right-click on a message’s timestamp or long-press on the message in the mobile app and copy the Slack link. You can then paste it to reference later.
6) Pin important messages
At CloudPeeps, we use this feature to pin messages outlining our weekly, monthly or quarterly goals and messages recording metrics. It’s great for being able to quickly revisit any important messages posted.
To pin an item, click on the gear icon on the right-hand side of the message and select “Pin to #channel.”
To revisit pinned messages, click the little “i” by the Search feature to see all the pinned items in a channel.
7) Star messages to create a to-do list
Whenever a message in Slack requires an action on your behalf, Star it to be able to revisit all starred items that you need to attend to.
Simply click the star next to any message. To access all starred messages, click the star icon in the upper right hand corner of your Slack app next to the Search function.
8) React to messages
Sometimes creating yet another message for the team to read can be a waste of time. Who really needs to open Slack to see a thumbsup or a “10-4.” That said, with so much noise, it’s important to make it known that their message was read and understood.
Send a reaction to a message by using the keyboard shortcut “Command + shift + \” or by selecting the gear icon on the right-hand side of the message and selecting your reaction emoji of choice. 🙂
9) Edit messages
Typos can be embarrassing, or maybe there’s something you want to add to a message. Simply hit the up arrow to edit the last message sent. If you need to edit a message that’s not the most recent, select the gear icon on the right, then select “Edit message.”
10) Mark as read or unread
Like you would in your email inbox, you can mark a message as unread so you remember to go back to it later. To mark a message as unread and your place in a conversation, hold the “Alt” key and select where you would like to mark as unread — anything past that point will be considered new messages. To mark a channel as read, hit the “Esc” key.
11) Format messages
Legibility matters, especially when you’re sharing a message that’s long than a sentence or two. If you want to emphasize a certain point, you can *bold* it by using asterisks on each side of the word or phrase. You can italicize by using _underscores_ on each side of the word or phrase.
You can also make lists within a message. Use the “Shift + Enter” you create a line break, then number the items or create bullet points with dashes. One of the most unknown formatting tips is that you can create block quotes by using the > symbol and a space before tying your sentence.
You can find a ton more Slack formatting tips here.
12) Integrate RSS feeds
Do you have a publication you just can’t miss an article on? Or perhaps you’ve created a RSS feed relevant to your industry to keep your finger on the pulse of all news. You can subscribe to RSS feeds directly inside Slack channels. Simply type “/feed subscribe” than the link to the RSS feed of choice, such as NPR, for example.
You’ll then see a message in that channel every time an item rolls in. Try putting specific RSS into designated channels so you’re not inundated with distracting messages all day.
13) Narrow your searches for better results
When you’re looking for something specific like an article or event mentioned or a specific name, use modifiers in your search, such as “in:#channel” or “from:user” or “has:link.” Hit tab to autocomplete team and channel names. See a complete list of search modifiers here.
14) Giphy integration for when words just won’t cut it
Everyone’s favorite Slack integration! You can respond to a message with a random GIF based on a keyword directly in Slack, thanks to their integration with Giphy. Type “/giphy [any words here]” and get the appropriate GIF plopped right into the channel.
To enable the Giphy integration, head here.
15) GIFs distracting? Collapse all images
As much fun as you just created with your Giphy integration, GIFs and other images can get in the away of focusing on the important things you and your team are discussing. Hide images temporarily so you can actually get some work done by typing “/collapse.”
16) Custom emojis (because that is very important)
Sometimes you just need a emoji of Kevin Bacon’s face or a unicorn (same thing, right?). To create your custom emojis, first crop a 128px x 128px square image, then upload it on your team’s settings so everyone can use it. To do this, your team’s Slack URL/customize/emoji. So for us, this is https://cloudpeeps.slack.com/customize/emoji. You’re welcome. 🙂
Bonus: Integrate all of your favorite services
Slack offers a plethora of integrations. At CloudPeeps, we take full advantage of the Asana, Intercom and Twitter integrations, but the options are nearly endless. The Mention.com integration is another great one to get pinged every time someone mentions you or a competitor on the web. See a full list of your options here.
Do you have an amazing Slack trick that we missed? Share them in the comments below!
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