Microsoft Teams: Beyond the Basics

Published on 2020-04-16

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Microsoft Teams: Beyond the Basics


Microsoft Teams is well-known for its expertise as a collaboration tool. As of March 18th, Microsoft said that teams had reached 44 million daily active users. With companies all over the world instructing their employees to work from home, Teams has become all the more important.


With the recent increase in user numbers, Microsoft has been quick to announce several new features for teams. However, as more features are added some are inevitably going to go under the radar.

We’ve put together a few of the lesser-known features of teams that every efficient worker should be using. 


Award Your Team Members with Digital Badges

Microsoft is bringing a new way to recognize and award your team members with the Open Badges app template. Using Microsoft Teams' Open Badges app template, you can easily create and grant badges to team members within Teams. Once awarded, recipients and other members of the team are notified. Award details can be viewed by tagging the recipient of the badge inside the channel conversation.


As with all app templates, the Open Badges templates are open-sourced Teams apps that are production-ready and can be deployed quickly as your organization's internal line-of-business apps.

Open badges and other app templates can be accessed here


Use Background Effects for Meetings

Microsoft has recently been introducing a variety of background effects that can be used during video meetings. The background effects include options like background blur and custom background images.

Applying the background blur places the focus on the individual and blurs any possible distractions behind you. With custom images, users can upload a custom background image of their choice to use in meetings. These features are perfect for when users are needing to conduct a meeting from home or in potentially distracting environments.


While background images are still in development, background blur is available to use now. To apply background blur, you need to hover your mouse over the bottom middle part of your screen during a call. Click the “…” icon and select the blur my background option.


Demonstrate Ideas with Microsoft Whiteboard

Ever found yourself struggling to describe an idea over a video call but can’t find the words? Microsoft has solved this struggle by integrating Microsoft Whiteboard into Teams meetings.

Microsoft Whiteboard allows teams to interact and share ideas using an infinite digital canvas. Designed for pen and touch, the whiteboard lets users write or draw smoothly, while automatically recognising and transforming shapes and tables as a user draws.


To access the whiteboard, you just need to click the Share icon in the share tray of their meeting.  Once in the Share section, you can click on Whiteboard and then select Microsoft Whiteboard. Meeting participants can use the canvas to ideate and collaborate whether they are in the same room or working remotely.


Work on all your documents without leaving teams

A big seller for Microsoft Teams is its seamless integration with Office 365 products. A subscription to Office 365 not only gives you access to Teams but also provides you with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Microsoft staples.

As a result, Microsoft can flawlessly incorporate these other platforms and file types into Teams. While this fact isn’t unknown to most users, the extent to which users can work on these documents isn’t always used to its advantage.


Microsoft has crafted Teams so users can improve productivity by not switching to different apps. Users can access their documents from the files tap and choose to edit or view them directly within Teams.


Use slash commands

Slash commands are short phrases that, when typed into the search bar at the top of Teams, create a quick action. When you type certain phrases into the search bar and precede them with a slash, everyday actions are quickly activated.

These actions can alter your status, view particular features, or even initiate calls.

The most common slash command is /away. Using this command quickly sets your status to away.


The best part about slash commands is that they can be utilised to suit the way that you work. For example, if you mainly use Teams to access files, slash commands can help you easily find the documents you need. On the other hand, if you’ find that your Teams channels are frequently busy you can use the /mentions command to show your recent mentions.


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Learn some keyboard shortcuts

Along with slash commands, Teams also has several keyboard shortcuts. These keyboard shortcuts allow you to quickly navigate around the Teams interface and apply actions without needing to use your mouse. Not only are they perfect for quick actions but also help with accessibility.

Users can access a full list of keyboard shortcuts using the slash command /keys in the search bar.


Here are a few of our favourites:

Open Search: [Ctrl] + E

Start New Chat: [Ctrl] + N

Attach File: [Ctrl] + O

Accept video call: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + A

Accept audio call: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + S

Mute/Unmute Microphone in a call or chat: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + M

Video Camera On/Off: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + O

Zoom In: [Ctrl] + (=)

Zoom Out: [Ctrl] + (-)



Use the Immersive Reader for Teams messages

The Immersive Reader is a tool that provides a full-screen reading experience to increase the readability of text and reads the text out loud. The Immersive Reader feature can be accessed by clicking the three dots next to a message and selecting “immersive reader”.

Primarily a learning tool, the reader is beneficial in eliminating distractions and helps you digest information when you’re struggling to concentrate.


Apply Subtitles to Meetings

The subtitles feature is an upcoming addition to Teams. The recent update brings live captions to meetings, coming in handy for those with hearing disabilities, people with different levels of language proficiency, and participants in loud places. To access this feature user’s need to go to more options section under the meeting controls and select turn on live captions.

The feature is currently in the preview stages for English (US) and the Teams desktop app.



At Walvis Technologies we have helped many businesses make the important move to Microsoft Teams.

With our expertise, we make the switch as straightforward as possible and are there to support your company through any teething problems once it's installed. If you think Microsoft Teams might be the right tool for you while your team works from home then get in contact with us

Don't just take our word for it, take a look at our process on our Microsoft 365 page and follow our social media for the latest Microsoft updates and features 

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