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 change Windows 11 task bar alignment to left instead of center

Windows 11 is an incredible operating system and I’ve personally enjoyed using it since its launch without any issues. I have found that it hasn’t taken away from any of my important abilities and, in fact, has added several enhancements that can actually help boost my output more (such as Clock’s Focus Sessions).

One of the Windows 11 changes I get asked about a lot is the taskbar alignment. In Windows 10, the taskbar aligned left by default and Windows 11 center aligns it. Some users who are more comfortable with a left alignment have asked how to “put it back.” This post will show you how.

How to left-align Windows 11 taskbar icons

  1. Right-click blank space on your taskbar and choose Taskbar settings -OR- navigate via your start menu to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar.
  2. Expand the Taskbar behaviors section near the bottom and find the setting for Taskbar alignment.
Click to enlarge

3. Use the dropdown to change Center to Left. Your change is made immediately and you can close Settings.

Curious what else is new in Windows 11? Check out this page of Windows 11 tips, tricks, and features.

Personal settings, preferences, and status in Microsoft Teams (Video)

Learn how to manage your personal settings, app preferences, and your availability status in Microsoft Teams.

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.


In addition to managing your chat and channel notification settings, you’re also able to configure your status/availability, out of office settings, display preferences, and much more by taking advantage of all that’s available in your settings dialog (ellipsis next to your profile photo > Settings).

Click to enlarge

Additional resources

How to make Microsoft Teams files always open in the desktop app, Teams, or browser by default (for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files)

You can open files directly within Teams to have a single context in which you’re able to do your work. However, when dealing with complex files you may wish to change how files are opened to be able to utilize the full functionality of the desktop app instead.

Note: You must use the desktop version of Teams to enable this feature (doesn’t apply to web version). If you’re still not seeing it, make sure you have updated to the latest version of Teams.

If you don’t make any changes to your default settings in Teams, documents will open in Teams automatically. Here are the three Teams file experience options you have:

  • Teams (default) – uses the Office web app, just like browser, but with Teams as a wrapper (see following screenshot)
  • App (desktop or client application) – opens outside of Teams and browsers in the fully-featured application (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint)
  • Browser – opens outside of Teams in the Office web app but in your internet browser
A Word file opened inside Teams (web app experience)

And, of course, you can always open a file in Teams then choose Open in Desktop App at the top, but that’s the long way around. We can choose where to open a file before we even open it.

Click to enlarge

In this post, I’ll cover how to open a file in a different context (Teams, desktop app, or browser) for one-time needs as well as changing your default setting to force all files to open in the desktop version if you wish.

How to open a file from Teams in the desktop/client app without changing default settings

If you right-click a file in Teams and hover over Open, you’ll see you can choose to open that one file using the default or your preferred experience (Teams, app/desktop, or browser). This is great for those one-off files that require the full desktop application.

So if you need to open a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file outside Teams, using its full desktop app:

  1. Right-click the file
  2. Select Open
  3. Select Open in app
Click to enlarge

Or if you already have the file opened in Teams, just click Open in Desktop App at the top.

How to change default file opening behavior of Teams to always open in desktop app

If you’d rather change the default setting for yourself so that a single left-click opens in the desktop app always, there are two places you can change your file opening preference – a file’s open menu or your Teams settings.

Note: Desktop/app will only be available as an option if you have Office version 16 or newer.

Always open Teams files in the desktop app | Method #1 (from a file)

To change your default file opening preference from an individual file’s menu, right-click the file, select Open, then select Change default.

Click to enlarge

Then choose Desktop app and Save. Now Teams will always open Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files in the appropriate desktop application.

Click to enlarge

Always open Teams files in the desktop app | Method #2 (in your Settings)

Alternatively, you don’t need to find a file first. Simply use the ellipsis (three dots) in the upper right corner of Teams and choose Settings.

Then select Files from the left and choose Desktop app from the dropdown menu. You change is saved automatically.

Click to enlarge

Always open Teams files in the Desktop app | Bonus method (prompt after opening one-time in desktop)

There is one more way to change this setting, but it’s less straightforward so I’m deeming it a “bonus method.” 🙂

If you do choose to right-click > Open > Open in app one time for a file, when you return to Teams it will prompt you to let it know if you were just opening in the desktop app this one time, or if you would like to go ahead and change your setting to always open Teams files in the desktop app.

Click to enlarge – Prompt shown when returning to Teams after having opened a file in the Desktop app from its Open menu


Change the default link type and sharing settings for SharePoint documents

By default when a user chooses to share a document, a selection has already been made to share that document with anonymous access, restricted organizational access or only with specific people (requiring entry of recipients) depending on who set up your tenant. If no changes were made, chances are the links default to anonymous access. A user can change this setting to restrict access before sharing but for newer users in a hurry, it’s likely anonymous links could be being created and shared incidentally because time isn’t being taken to review the alternative options.

Here’s how you, as an administrator, can change the default settings to something more secure without (or with) removing anonymous capabilities.

Continue reading “Change the default link type and sharing settings for SharePoint documents”

Automatic, regular data refreshing for Power BI reports


One of my favorite features of Power BI is the ability to have published reports automatically refresh data on a schedule. This is great for “setting and forgetting” your reports, knowing wherever you publish them they will be showing the most recent data for your clients. I feel like it used to be depending on your license, you could be limited to how frequently you can refresh (max of once per day), but you can refresh nonetheless. And this may have changed, as I couldn’t find (in my brief search) any confirming statement.

Let’s set up that scheduled refresh!

Continue reading “Automatic, regular data refreshing for Power BI reports”