How to use the new Microsoft Teams

Microsoft announced and rolled out a new product last week, called Microsoft Teams.  What’s it for? There are a lot of things you can do in teams, but simply stated, it is an app that gives you the ability to have contextual and threaded chat conversations.  You can use Teams instead of Skype for Business, for simple conversations with someone, and you can use it for bigger conversations, and for collaboration on several different types of things.

In this post, I’ll show you the steps, so that you can use it in your Office 365 tenant.  Note that to turn it on, you’ll need to be able to log into the admin console for the tenant.

Also, at the end of this post, read about how you can join in my demo of this technology, live on SharePoint Power Hour!

  1. You can start out by going to, and there is a desktop client as well as an app for your phone.
  2. If you haven’t used Teams yet in your Office 365 tenant, it will need to be turned  on in the Office 365 Admin area.  Go to Settings –> Services & add-ins, and click on Microsoft Teams.
  3. Turn on Microsoft Teams, and Customize your settings:
  4. Now, when you go to, you will see a nice explanatory video, and the first thing you do is create a name for your new team.  When you create a team, a SharePoint Team Site / Office 365 Group will also be created.  New team sites and groups are all one and the same.  You can still use Teams, and download the software, even without creating a team yet.

Now that we’ve gotten through the quick step-by-step of getting Teams up and running, here’s a bit about getting around.  First of all, using the settings button at the bottom left, I like to change my theme to dark.  When I click my own picture at the top left, I can see a list of my own activity across teams, and click Saved to see conversations that I’ve saved (the save icon looks like a bookmark).

  • The Activity tab shows you Notifications, which includes mentions, likes and replies.  There is also a tab for Recent, which is just the latest info to look at.
  • The Chat tab is where you can have 1:1 conversations with people, even with voice and video.
  • The Teams tab is where you can see which teams you’re a member of.  Note that this isn’t instead of a SharePoint site, this is where you do your real-time collaboration with your colleagues, and even about the content that’s in your site.  Each team inherently has its own site.  How do you change that cute little logo for each team?  Click the ellipsis next to the team name, and choose View team.  Then, click Settings.  That page has the logo and a bunch of other very granular settings that you can configure as far as permissions in the team.
  • Within each Team, you have Channels, which are like broad topics of conversation.  Each channel has multiple tabs across horizontally, and you can add more of your own, with the little + (plus) button next to the tabs at the top.  When new people join the team for the first time, there may be a bunch of channels, but it’s up to each individual to “favorite” the channels that they want to keep on their page.  Here’s what it looks like when there are more channels that I haven’t favorited.  Maybe I’m not interested in those topics, or maybe I’m new and haven’t decided what to look at yet.  Each time you create a channel, it creates a folder of the same name in the Documents library in the SharePoint site for this team.  BUT, creating a folder directly in the library does not automatically create a channel.
    How do you actually get to that associated SharePoint site from here?  Click on the ellipsis at the top of a channel, and choose Open in SharePoint.
    Open in SharePoint
  • Tabs in channels.  Let me show you my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing in here so far.  You can create a tab in here that shows a specific document library in SharePoint, and have a running conversation down the right.  THEN if you want to, if you want to have a whole conversation about one document, you can have a tab just for it!  In this screenshot, you can see the tab that I’ve created (using the +) is called Policies.  This is pointing to a library in my site.  I clicked the little white icon toward the top right, to open this conversation panel on the right.
    You can also add tabs here, pointing to other SharePoint sites / site collections, you’re not stuck with only being able to have the files from that one (associated) site in here.
  • The Meetings tab shows you your own personal meetings that are in your Outlook calendar.  You can create meetings (It uses Skype for Business) from here, and even join them from within here.
  • The Files tab shows the logged in user the files they’ve worked on, in 3 tabs.  Recent – files that you have been working on lately, anywhere in SharePoint; Microsoft Teams – Files you’ve worked on within the teams; OneDrive – your own OneDrive for Business files.

Overall, there’s a TON in here.  I highly encourage you to try it out, and click around a lot.  There are a lot of ellipses everywhere, and there are ways to like things and save them, and send smiley faces and all kinds of stuff.

Like what you see and want to try it out with me?  Tomorrow, 11/30, on my live SharePoint Power Hour, I’ll be doing a demo of Microsoft Teams.  I’ll be using a demo tenant, and would like to invite 20 or so of you to come dig in and try it with me.

Here’s the recording from 11/30/2016:


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