5 essential settings to consider for every team in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool for teamwork and collaboration that has transformed the landscape of digital work. You can create and join teams (groups of people and their shared tools and work), chat with others within and beyond your organization, share and manage files, and much more. However, to make the most of Teams, you need to configure some settings and permissions for your team on a case-by-case basis. In this blog post, I will highlight five important settings to consider for each of your teams in Microsoft Teams.

Not a team owner (yet)? Share these topics with whoever is or keep them in mind for your future teams. I’ll cover:

  1. Team name and description
  2. Team privacy
  3. Team members and owners
  4. Team channels and tabs
  5. Team notifications and mentions

1. Team name and description

The team name and description are the first things that people see when they browse or search for teams. They should be clear, concise, and informative. You can change the team name and description by going to the team name, clicking More options | Edit team, and typing in the new name and description.

Consider using a naming convention to make it clear which region, department, audience, etc. a team belongs to. For example, perhaps an EXT_ prefix will always preceed teams with external participants. Learn more about team naming conventions here: The Importance of a Teams Naming Convention | Microsoft Learn

Edit team name and description steps | Click to enlarge

You can also add a team picture to make your team more instantly recognizable.

Steps to modify the team picture | Click to enlarge

2. Team privacy

The team privacy determines who can see and join your team. You can choose from two options: public or private. A public team is visible to anyone in your organization, and anyone can join it without approval. A private team is only visible to team members, and people need to request to join it or be invited by a team owner. You can change the team privacy by going to the team name, clicking More options | Edit team, and selecting the privacy option.

Team privacy setting | Click to enlarge

3. Team members and owners

The team members and owners are the people who belong to your team. The team members can chat, share files, and participate in meetings. The team owners can manage the team settings and permissions, add or remove members, and delete the team. You can add or remove team members as well as promote or demote roles (i.e. from member to owner) by going to the team name, clicking More options | Manage team, and selecting the Members tab.

Members settings for a team in Microsoft Teams | Click to enlarge

4. Team channels and tabs

The team channels and tabs are the spaces where you can have conversations and access tools within your team. The team channels are typically organized by topics, projects, or departments. You can create standard channels that are open to everyone in the team, or private channels that are only accessible to a subset of team members. You can add or remove team channels by going to the team name, clicking More options | Add channel or More options | Manage team, and selecting the Channels tab. Note that the General channel comes with every team and cannot be deleted.

You can also edit individual channel names, descriptions, and whether or not it’s shown or hidden by clicking More options | Edit this channel.

The team tabs along the top of each channel are the shortcuts to your favorite apps and tools within a channel. You can add tabs for a Planner board, a Power BI dashboard, a OneNote notebook, and more. You can add or remove team tabs by going to a channel, clicking the + sign at the top, and choosing the app or tool you want to add.

The add a tab dialog where you can choose an app | Click to enlarge

You can also reorder the tabs by dragging and dropping them, or delete the tabs by selecting it’s dropdown arrow and choosing Remove.

5. Team notifications and mentions

The team notifications and mentions are two ways to stay updated and alert your team members. The team notifications are the alerts that you receive when something happens in your team, such as a new message, a new file, or a new meeting. You can customize your team notifications by going to Settings and more (…) and then Settings | Notifications, and choosing the notification level and sound for each activity.

Notification settings for the Microsoft Teams client app | Click to enlarge

The team mentions are the tags that you use to get someone’s attention in a conversation. You can mention a person, a channel, a tag, or the whole team by typing @ followed by their name. The team mentions help you communicate effectively and efficiently with your team.

Learn about all four ways to @ mention in Teams, and when to use which, in my other post (includes video): 4 ways to @mention in Microsoft Teams to get attention on your posts and replies

You can also send a message as important, indicating visually that it’s a high priority.

Steps to mark a message as important in Microsoft Teams | Click to enlarge

Learn about more permissions and settings

There are, of course, many more than 5 settings to consider for each of your teams. While I have highlighted specific topics and considerations, I encourage you to keep learning with these resources:

How to use @ mentions and Activity in Microsoft Teams (Video)

Learn how to manage your activity and personal preferences in Microsoft Teams, as well as how the usage of @ mentions improves communication and attention. Did you know there are 4 different ways to @ mention others?

This video is part of my FREE 30+ lesson self-paced online training course called Collaboration in Microsoft 365 (OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams). Enroll today at https://www.NateTheTrainer.com for the full learning experience including lesson discussions, quizzes, exams, and a completion certificate.

You can also watch the entire course as a YouTube playlist as well (just without the course discussions, quizzes, exam, and certificate). Be sure to subscribe to support my channel and for easy access to future content.


From the Activity node in Teams, you can see when you’ve been @mentioned, added to a team, when others react or reply to your messages in chats and channel conversations, and more. You may also see specific app activity, such as Insights letting you know it’s time to check-in.

You can adjust your own notifications per channel and chat, or universally using your Settings Notifications settings.

Additional resources

What are channel conversations in Microsoft Teams? (Video)

Learn the ins and outs of team channel conversations in Microsoft Teams. Channel conversations are more formal than chats, and offer slightly different features and behavior.

This video is part of my FREE 30+ lesson self-paced online training course called Collaboration in Microsoft 365 (OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams). Enroll today at https://www.NateTheTrainer.com for the full learning experience including lesson discussions, quizzes, exams, and a completion certificate.

You can also watch the entire course as a YouTube playlist as well (just without the course discussions, quizzes, exam, and certificate). Be sure to subscribe to support my channel and for easy access to future content.


Channel conversations allow you and your teammates to talk about that specific channel’s subject. For example, in a channel named Project Zebra, you’ll post conversations and replies regarding Project Zebra and use its Files tab for files about Project Zebra. Remember that files attached to conversation posts and replies are stored in a folder sharing the channel’s name in the team’s supporting SharePoint site.

Channel conversations and replies work in much the same way as chat in Teams. The primary difference is chat is typically ad hoc and less formal whereas your channel conversations are part of an official team (aka Microsoft 365 group) that tends to last longer and have regular membership changes as staff rotate in and out.

Additional resources

How to create teams and channels in Microsoft Teams (Video)

Learn how to create a new team and channels for that team in this lesson.

This video is part of my FREE 30+ lesson self-paced online training course called Collaboration in Microsoft 365 (OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams). Enroll today at https://www.NateTheTrainer.com for the full learning experience including lesson discussions, quizzes, exams, and a completion certificate.

You can also watch the entire course as a YouTube playlist as well (just without the course discussions, quizzes, exam, and certificate). Be sure to subscribe to support my channel and for easy access to future content.


Create a team whenever you have a reason to bring a new or existing group of people together to communicate and/or collaborate. You can create private or public teams (aka private or public Microsoft 365 groups). Private groups require membership management and requests (when applicable) whereas public groups can be discovered by anyone in your organization.

Create a channel whenever you need to separate a specific topic, client, subject, discipline, etc. from the main conversation and contents (General channel) to its own channel. This helps keep the General channel clear for small talk, truly general conversations and contents, etc. while your more focused subject-specific conversations, files, meetings, apps, and more are in the channel you’ve created.

Your channels can be standard (same permissions as team) or private (unique permissions from team). If you choose private channels, they’ll each have their own entire SharePoint site as opposed to sharing one like all of your standard channels will. Private channels are also owned by the channel creator (not necessarily the parent team’s owner).

Additional resources

Teams vs channels in Microsoft Teams (Video)

Learn the differences between a team and a channel when collaborating in Microsoft Teams. This video shows that teams are groups of people who need shared access and space to collaborate and communicate on a shared initiative. Channels are how that group organizes their content and work.

This video is part of my FREE 30+ lesson self-paced online training course called Collaboration in Microsoft 365 (OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams). Enroll today at https://www.NateTheTrainer.com for the full learning experience including lesson discussions, quizzes, exams, and a completion certificate.

You can also watch the entire course as a YouTube playlist as well (just without the course discussions, quizzes, exam, and certificate). Be sure to subscribe to support my channel and for easy access to future content.


Teams are a group of a people along with all of the resources, apps, conversations, meetings, and more they share. Channels are how team members keep their content organized by particular topics, subjects, projects, etc. Channels can be thought of as a way to “folderize” your team’s content.

Teams have team settings, and each channel has it own settings as well. Each member of your team has equal access to the team’s standard channels – this only differs if you utilize private channels (which have separate membership management).

Additional resources

4 ways to @mention in Microsoft Teams to get attention on your posts and replies

Note: Prefer video? Check out lesson 29/34 of my free Collaboration in M365 course.

You may already be familiar with the concept of @mentioning – it’s generally how we “tag” someone in social media. For example, if you wanted my attention on Mastodon, you might write a post that @mentions my username such as “Hey @chambernate – have you ever run across this error?” This makes sure I get a notification and know to go look at your post.

@mentioning is also how we tag people in Microsoft Teams. When you’re composing a message (whether it’s in a channel, a meeting, or a group chat) you might write “Hey @Nate Chamberlain, can you review this outline?” This achieves the same result as in social media – making sure I get an Activity notification and am more likely to see your post and reply.

What happens if you don’t @mention someone? No @mention means the chat or channel that you’ve posted in will just be listed in bold for all other members. No activity notification, just a bold channel name or chat name that stays bold until I open that channel or chat, as seen below with NC460 Sales in the Retail team.

NC460 sales is a channel listed in bold, meaning there’s unread activity there.

If you mark a message as important, the channel or chat name will still be bold, but will also have an exclamation point as seen with PNW Coffee Social Campaign below.

PNW Coffee Social Campaign has unread activity, and some of that activity includes a message marked as important.

And in chat specifically, you can mark messages as “urgent” which does send activity notifications to recipients every 2 minutes for 20 minutes until they read it (or the 20 minutes ends). While handy as a way to get attention, we want to be careful not to overuse urgent.

In the remainder of this post, I’ll detail the 4 ways to @mention others in Microsoft Teams to get their attention in a direct and professional manner without using urgent:

  • @mention an individual (i.e. @Diego Siciliani)
  • @mention a team (i.e. @Human Resources)
  • @mention a channel (i.e. @Talent Acquisition)
  • @mention a tag (i.e. @Managers)

Let’s start with @mentioning individuals.

How to @mention an individual

To @mention someone in a chat message or channel conversation post, simply type the “at” sign (@) with no space after it, then begin typing the person’s name. (i.e. typing @Nate would suggest my full name you could then select). Once selected from suggestions, the name should show as a purple hyperlink that, when hovered over, gives you that person’s contact card.

If you’re typing a name and it’s not showing up as a suggestion, it could be they’re not a member of the chat you’re @mentioning them in or, if it’s a channel conversation, they may not be a member of the team to which the channel belongs.

You also don’t have to tag someone’s full name. It can feel overly formal to tag @Nate Chamberlain when you’d rather, more casually, say @Nate. To just use a first name, simply tag the full name as usual, but then backspace to remove the last name – as long as the first name is still purple, they’ll still be tagged but your message reads as more casual and personable.

Click to enlarge – shortening an @mention from full name to first name

@mentioning an individual is the most direct and specific way to get attention and a response from someone.

How (and when) to @mention a team

You can also @mention teams such as @Mark 8 Project Team – this sends an activity notification to every member of the team.

Use this to generally inform all members of your post – just keep in mind that in large teams you may not get the best response from a general @mention like this. The principles of diffusion of responsibility tell us that when 30 people get the same notification, they may feel less responsible for response or action. So to encourage specific action, we want to use more specific @mentions (consider it a form of “knowing your audience”).

Otherwise, @mentioning the entire team is a great way to make broad announcements, share FYIs, etc. where immediate action or response may not be the first priority so much as communicating something.

How (and when) to @mention a channel

You may choose to @mention a specific channel for two reasons:

  • You want attention from the team on a particular subject
  • You’re @mentioning members of a private channel (which has unique membership compared to the parent team)

Since standard channels don’t have unique membership from the parent team, an @mention of a particular channel does the same thing as @mentioning the team – every member of the team gets a notification when you @mention a standard channel. The difference is that you’re specifically calling attention to the topic of the channel. For example, if you work for a sales team and your boss mentioned @Sales Team – that’s pretty general and may include 50 people. But if they mention @East Region (a channel in Sales Team), and you happen to help manage the East region, you’re more likely to feel obligated to reply since that’s something in your wheelhouse.

Private channels have unique membership – while the parent team may have 50 members, the private channel can have a subset of that such as 10 of those 50 members. So @mentioning a private channel gives a notification to those 10 members instead of all 50.

Click to enlarge – Admin is a private channel with a subset of members from its parent team.

How to @mention a tag

Since @mentioning standard channels and the team do the same thing functionally, our only option to send activity notifications to subsets of our team members (other than by utilizing private channels) is to use tags.

You may need to be a team owner to create tags for your team members – this setting is determined by your team owners via the team’s settings > tags.

Click to enlarge – Team owners who manage your team settings specify who in the team can create/manage tags.

If you have proper permissions, use the team’s ellipsis (the team for which you want to tag members) and choose Manage tags.

Click to enlarge

Assuming you don’t yet have any tags to manage, click Create tag.

Add the tag name (i.e. Nurses, Managers, Trainers, etc.) and who should be in that tag. Click Create when finished (you can always add more later).

Now when you are creating a post or reply in a channel in that team, you’ll be able to @mention your new tag’s name to notify only the people tagged with that tag. Other team members will still see a bold channel name for unread activity, but won’t receive the activity notification from the @mention. So, in the previous screenshot, Nestor Wilke and Patti Fernandez will each get an activity notification when you @mention Managers.

Click to enlarge

You can also use tags created for your teams as a way to start new chats (Ctrl+N in desktop, or just use the new chat icon when on the chat node of Teams).

Click to enlarge

You can see all 4 of these methods demonstrated in Lesson 29/34 of my free Collaboration in M365 training course and embedded below:

Microsoft Teams is Not a Zoom Alternative; It’s Much More

I recently wrote a blog post for Centriq Training on how Microsoft Teams is more than just a Zoom alternative. In the post, I detail (with a table comparison) how Teams and Zoom are similar in meeting and chat functionality. But Teams goes far beyond communication and really excels in being the “one-stop shop” of enterprise communication and collaboration.

The post is broken down into:

  • Intro (What is Teams, what is Zoom, and why do people ask Teams vs Zoom?)
  • Microsoft Teams vs Zoom (for online meetings) with feature comparison
  • What’s unique about teams
    • Participant limit and meeting types
    • File integration
    • Pre-connected apps teams can use
  • Conclusion (go beyond just chat and meetings with a single app for all productivity, collaboration, and communication)

Read the entire post on Centriq’s blog here: Microsoft Teams is Not a Zoom Alternative; It’s Much More.

How to restore a file deleted from a Microsoft Teams channel

pile of covered books

Microsoft Teams is the place where groups of people come together to communicate and collaborate. A large part of that collaboration is document storage, sharing, and co-authoring. In Teams, files can be found on the Files tab of each channel within a team.

Did you know the Files tab is actually showing you the contents of a SharePoint folder associated with that channel?

Because Teams files are stored in SharePoint, any file deleted from a Teams channel goes to the associated SharePoint site’s Recycle Bin. We need to go to that Recycle Bin to restore the deleted file from there.

Click to enlarge | The dialog that appears when deleting a Teams file shows us it’ll go to the (SharePoint) site Recycle Bin.

How to restore a deleted Teams file

To find the correct SharePoint site for the team in question, we first open the Files tab for the channel from which you originally deleted the file. Then choose Open in SharePoint. If you don’t see it, you may need to use the ellipsis (…) then select it as seen in the following screenshot.

Click to enlarge

Next choose Recycle Bin from the left-hand navigation menu.

Click to enlarge

Finally, select the file you deleted then choose Restore from the ribbon menu.

Click to enlarge

Idea: Add the Recycle Bin as a channel tab

If you’re part of a team that is frequently accessing the Recycle Bin, you can pin it as a tab in your channel(s). Start this by clicking the plus sign (+) to the right of your existing tabs.

Click to enlarge

Choose Website for the app (SharePoint apps won’t work for this particular idea).

Click to enlarge

Name the tab Recycle Bin, paste the URL to your site’s Recycle Bin, and click Save.

Click to enlarge

Now you can drag the new Recycle Bin tab right next to your Files tab and have them side-by-side.

Click to enlarge

How to schedule a Microsoft Teams webinar

Previously we could schedule Teams meetings and Teams live events. Now there’s a new, third option called webinars for those “in-between” needs. It is currently rolling out (May 2021) so you may not see this option right away but check back soon.

Webinars enable up to 1,000 participants, but also come with some great features like custom registration pages with email confirmation to registrants, attendee reporting (in line with what we’re seeing in meetings and live events), and polls, chat, and reactions (as we have in meetings). We’ll also be better able to manage attendee audio/video as hosts of webinars.

Webinars can extend beyond 1,000 participants, though anyone beyond 1,000 will be view-only (non-interactive).

To schedule a webinar in Microsoft Teams webinar, follow these steps:

Scheduling a webinar in Microsoft Teams

1. Go to the Calendar via the Microsoft Teams client left-hand nav

The Calendar option in the left-hand navigation menu of Microsoft Teams.

2. Choose the dropdown arrow next to New Meeting in the upper right-hand corner and choose Webinar.

The new (May 2021) Webinar feature when scheduling Teams events.

3. Choose the dropdown arrow next to require registration to choose who should be required to register for the webinar in order to attend. You can choose None, For people in your org and guests, or For everyone.

Note: If For everyone is grayed out for you, your administrators will need to allow you to require it outside your organization via policy. See this documentation for more info. While currently PowerShell, we can expect to see UI settings added to the Teams Admin Center eventually as with other features.

The require registration option on a new Microsoft Teams webinar.

4. Select View registration form to configure the registration form attendees will complete.

The View registration form link on a new Microsoft Teams webinar.

5. Configure all of the details for the registration form, including any additional fields you want to add or speaker information.

Click to enlarge – Custom registration form configuration screen.

6. Click Save when finished customizing. You’ll see a preview of what your attendees will see and can copy the registration link from the top ribbon. When finished previewing, click the X in the upper-right hand corner to close the pop-up.

Click to enlarge – A custom registration form preview in Microsoft Teams when creating a webinar.

7. Complete the invite details for your presenters (matching the details you placed on the registration form, of course). Click Send when ready.

That’s it! Just be sure to only share the Registration link (open event from calendar and click Copy registration link) for your attendees and NOT the “Click here to join the meeting” link.

Click to enlarge – Share the “registration link” with attendees, not the “Join” or “Click here to join the meeting” links.

You can download current registration any time by re-opening the event from your calendar and selecting the registration file icon shown below.

Click to enlarge – Webinar details after creation.

How to get a Microsoft Teams meeting attendance report

Microsoft Teams has three types of virtual meetings:

  • Meetings
  • Webinars
  • Live Events

Live events already had a nice attendance report (which I assume will be available for webinars as well), but traditional/regular meetings had yet to see a similar feature until now. You could always export attendance during the meeting, but it was a snapshot at that moment and you didn’t capture those who had left early or joined late depending on when you exported it. It also didn’t capture join/leave times.

Now meetings have attendance reports that you can get AFTER the meeting as well. Note that you must be the organizer or co-organizer, and your admin must have enabled this ability. See here for more info.

You can get these attendance reports in a downloadable CSV/Excel format in the meeting chat once the meeting ends (a post with a downloadable report will appear) or from meeting details by simply following these steps after the meeting ends:

  1. Open the meeting/event in Teams to view Meeting Details
  2. Click the Attendance report icon to download the Excel file to your machine’s Downloads folder
Click to enlarge

The resulting report will feature these details:

  • Total participants
  • Meeting start/end
  • Attendee name
  • Attendee join/leave times
  • Duration attended
  • Email
  • Role
Click to enlarge

You do have a third option if it’s a meeting that you’re the sole organizer of (meaning it’s not a channel/team meeting). For one of your meetings, you can also find attendance by opening the meeting/event details and choosing the Attendance tab at the top. This tab is not available for channel meetings, but does give you a nice view of attendance stats without having to download anything. Check out the video below to see all three methods in action: