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

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 Twitter, 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).

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How to paste a copied URL as a web address instead of a hyperlinked title

You may have noticed that when you copy a web address from the Microsoft Edge browser bar and paste it somewhere, it shows a hyperlinked title instead of the web address. For some cases, this is great – it makes your emails, chats, and documentation look more professional.

For other cases, you’d like to actually see the URL (such as when creating print/unclickable resources or wanting to promote the address itself). Luckily, there’s just a slightly different method to use depending on what you’re hoping to achieve.

Copy/paste keyboard shortcuts to show web address or hyperlinked text

Normally, you can use Ctrl + C (copy) and Ctrl + V (paste). This is what will give you hyperlinked text instead of a web address by default. Your result would resemble NateChamberlain.com.

Use Ctrl + C (copy) and Ctrl + Shift + V (paste address) to show the web address instead of hyperlinked text. Your result would resemble https://natechamberlain.com/.

I prefer the keyboard shortcuts because they can be used everywhere, regardless of the destination app.

Right-click menu options when working in web apps (browser locations)

If you’re not a fan of keyboard shortcuts, you can also right-click to copy:

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Then right-click to paste either option (web address or hyperlinked text). In this menu “Plan text” is the web address and “Link (Default)” is the hyperlinked text with the site/page title.

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Right-click or paste options in other apps (like Office client applications)

You can look in your other apps for paste options like “Keep text only” in Office apps. See the following animation to see two of the paste options action. The first is “Use destination theme” which will keep the hyperlinked text. The last is “Keep text only” which shows the web address.

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You can also find these paste options on the Home tab of Office apps:

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Change the URL copy/paste default behavior in Microsoft Edge

If you want to permanently change how Edge handles copied links, you can go to Edge’s settings and change the default behavior. To find Settings in Edge, click the ellipsis (three dots) in the upper-right corner. Then choose Settings.

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Once in settings, choose Share, copy, and paste from the left-hand menu to change the default behavior.

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Add a thumbnail column for documents and media in a SharePoint Online document library

Mark Rackley recently tweeted about the ability to create a calculated column in SharePoint online document libraries that would automatically render thumbnails for documents. In the GIF from his tweet, it shows how this works for media files.

Naturally curious, I had to see how this worked for documents of .docx, .pdf, .pptx, etc. types. What I found is that it only currently supports some file types:

Supported file types (there’s likely even more I didn’t test):

  • Word (.docx)
  • PDF (.pdf)
  • Emails (.msg)
  • Images (.png, .gif, .jpg, etc.)
  • Media (.mp4)

Not-yet-supported file types:

  • Excel (.xlsx)
  • OneNote (.one)
  • PowerPoint (.pptx)

Create a thumbnail column in SharePoint Online document libraries

1. Add a new column to your document library (library settings > Create column).

2. Set the column name to Thumbnail. As for type, you have two options:

  • Leave type as Single line of text. Thanks to Dario Cassinerio for sharing that Single line of text type works as well as (and more simply than) Calculated set to [Title].
  • Mark Rackley suggests sticking with Calculated set to [Title] (see example screenshot) to prevent users from editing the text field in forms.

3. Click OK.

Supported file types will have thumbnails rendered (like .docx and .pdf in the example below) and others will just be blank (like .pptx and .xlsx in the example below).

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Here is an animation demonstrating the entire process, start to finish using Single line of text as column type:

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And another animation but using the Calculated column set to [Title] type:

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Boost your audience engagement and knowledge retention with live, interactive surveys and quizzes

I often hear from my session and training attendees that they enjoy the interactive elements of my sessions. I usually end each session with a swag or book giveaway based on the highest scoring participant in a Mentimeter quiz. Sometimes my only follow-up is: “I loved that quiz, how can I do that for my own team?” The nice thing is even if an attendee knew everything I mentioned in my 101, they still left with a new tool they can use to engage their co-workers and attendees.

Note: I don’t get any affiliate or referral program perks for this. I just truly appreciate the value Mentimeter has added to my presentations and wish the same success for you.

What is Mentimeter?

Mentimeter is a service that allows participants to “join” quizzes or surveys you create without needing an account. Once you create your questions and indicate the correct response(s) (if applicable), you click present. Attendees see the “access code” at the top of the screen and, using their mobile device or computer, join the quiz using their name (whether they choose to use their real name or not is up to them). Results show up on the screen in real-time.

Mentimeter allows you to get to know your audience better, engage them in friendly competition, or just solicit questions throughout your talk. This allows for your more introverted attendees to be comfortably engaged whereas otherwise you may not have heard from them at all. It also allows your questions to be “compiled” until you’re at a good stopping place to address them.

From menti.com (attendee view after a question has ended)

For quizzes as seen above, voting is closed after a specified time for each question and points are awarded on accuracy AND speed of response. You can even display a leaderboard between questions to get the room more engaged and competitive. There is never a tie, which makes it easy to give away swag to the top two or three.

When you’re done, you can export PDFs of the question slides to share attendee questions, responses, comprehension, etc. and then reset the presentation so it’s ready for your next session. If you have a paid license, you can export to excel instead of PDF.

How much does it cost?

Personally I use the free version because it gives you up to six quiz questions, or three survey questions which is the perfect size for an end-of-session “what did you learn” quiz or intra-session “touch-base.” But there are also licenses that allow more questions, different question types, and some pretty impressive capabilities for various events and campaigns.

How do I get started?

  1. Sign up for a free account (always free, no end date or trial period)
  2. See how the available options work for you
  3. Upgrade to unlock advanced features

How to create a live poll or quiz using Mentimeter

  1. Once signed in, click “New Presentation,” name and click “Create Presentation”

  2. Choose quiz if you’ll be awarding points for accuracy and speed, otherwise choose from available survey types (no correct answers, just polling the audience). After each is added and configured, click “New Slide” to create another.
  3. When you’re ready to present, click “Present” and you’ll go full-window with an view suitable for the big screen, and that pulls in real-time responses from attendees:

On an attendee’s phone (or tablet/computer), they see mobile-friendly options for interacting with your questions:

Create one-click, direct download links

Update 6/19/21: The post below requires use of html and, in SharePoint specifically, would require the classic experience. You may instead be looking for how to create direct download links with JSON in modern SharePoint libraries.

You’re sending an email, or creating a new page on your intranet instructing people to download a file.

You can always just link to an image or document and then have people figure out how to download it themselves. But methods of downloading vary by browsers and versions and content types (images vs PDFs, for example) so it’s much easier to just provide a link to users that automatically initiates the download for them regardless of context.

Note: This downloads to their default download folder/location.

Using a direct download link will save them some time by providing a one-click download option. No need to right-click-save-as, or save-and-name.

Simply add the word “download” after the href URL before closing the tag.

...www.sharepointlibrarian.com" download>Download here!</a>

For example, if I want people to download the print icon below I would link it in my HTML-formatted email or on my webpage/intranet using the script following it. The red text could be an image (download button?) or text like “Download the icon.”

<a href="/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/print.png" download><img src="https://natechamberlain.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/print.png"></a>

And for a PDF I don’t want opened in the browser, it might look something like

Download the latest newsletter

<a href="/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/DownloadMe.pdf" download>Download the latest newsletter</a>