Microsoft Teams: 11 tips for novice and advanced users

It’s that time again: a large part of the world is (back) at home, and so many companies and schools are switching back to Microsoft Teams. In this article we give some practical tips for beginners and advanced users.

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How does Microsoft Teams work? A Beginner’s Guide

Just like Word, PowerPoint and Excel, Microsoft Teams is a very extensive program. You can program bots that perform tasks automatically and link numerous services to the app. In Teams you can meet with up to 300 people, which makes it a suitable app for most companies and schools.

However, in this beginner’s guide, we’ll focus on the basics. This makes it easy for people who are not used to working with such online tools to attend a digital meeting. The app is available on both iOS and macOS, in addition to Windows and Android. As long as you log in with the same account, you can access the team on all your devices.

Microsoft Teams Beginner’s Guide

Microsoft Teams FAQ: the most frequently asked questions

When you get started with Microsoft Teams for the first time, a lot of information comes at you. We provide answers to the most frequently asked questions below.

1. What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is an online meeting program from Microsoft. This software allows you to communicate online with small and large groups. For example, you can make video calls, send text messages, share files and share a calendar together.

2. What does Microsoft Teams cost or is it free?

Microsoft Teams is free to download and use. This gives you access to the most important basic functions, which will be more than sufficient for most people. Do you want more options to do more with security and management, for example? Then you can take out a Microsoft 365 subscription. The costs of this are different. Check out the Microsoft website (link) for more information.

3. Where can I download Microsoft Teams on my iPhone or iPad?

Microsoft Teams can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store. The app can be installed on both your iPhone and iPad. You can download and install the apps via this link. You need iOS 12 or later.

4. Where can I download Microsoft Teams on Mac and Windows?

There is also a special app for Microsoft Teams for the MacBook, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro. This can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft website (link).

1. This is how Microsoft Teams is built

When you start Microsoft Teams, you will see that the app has a special layout. The bar on the left is the most important. This makes it easy to quickly jump from one part of the app to another. Below we briefly explain what you can do with each part.

  • Activity: Here you will find an overview of changes that have been made and everything you may have missed.
  • chat: Here you can have individual and group conversations. This is possible with text messages as well as audio and video calling.
  • Teams: This contains all the teams you are part of, and below that all the channels you are in.
  • Assignments: Teachers can add assignments to this overview, so that it is clear what is expected of you.
  • Agenda: As the name implies, this is the place where you can make appointments, schedule meetings, and see where other people have scheduled meetings.
  • To call to action: An overview of your calls, including an address book, history and voicemail function.
  • Files: Here you can access all your files shared via OneDrive or Microsoft Teams.

2. This is how you adjust your profile and the app

As soon as you are added to a Microsoft Team and log in, your account is still completely empty. Prevent that your entire company or class consists of avatars with two letters and adjust your profile via the steps below.

  1. Open Microsoft Teams and click on the circle in the top right corner of the window;
  2. Tap ‘Change picture’ and upload a picture of yourself;
  3. Optionally set a status message;
  4. Tap the gear to open the settings;
  5. Here you can customize a theme, layout, and other preferences.

You can also adjust your status in these settings so people know if you’re unavailable or on a break. This prevents misunderstandings.

3. Connect a microphone or webcam to the app

Microsoft Teams will ask for permission to use your laptop’s built-in webcam and microphone as soon as you launch the app. Do you have a desktop computer or headphones or separate webcam that you prefer to use? Then you can select it manually in the settings. This is how you do that.

  1. Open Microsoft Teams and click on the icon in the top right corner;
  2. Click on Settings;
  3. Click on Devices;
  4. In this window you can manually select a microphone, camera, speaker and other audio devices.

If you have completed the above steps, we recommend that you click on ‘Start test conversation’ in the same window. This will start a conversation with yourself with which the app can check whether everything is working properly. This way you know for sure that everything will work soon.

4. Mute your video and microphone

During a meeting or lecture it is of course useful that others can see and hear you, but that is not always the case. If you are in a room with roommates or relatives, it is useful to switch off your microphone or video camera. You can still just see or hear others.

You do this by clicking on the microphone and camera icon during the conversation. As soon as a line appears through the icon, the video or microphone is muted. Click it again to unmute it.

5. Customize notifications in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams automatically turns on all notifications, which can certainly lead to an overload of notifications in busy teams. Outsmart all those distractions by looking critically at these settings.

  1. Open Microsoft Teams and click the button in the top right corner;
  2. Click Notifications;
  3. You indicate what you want to receive behind every notification;
  4. In ‘Notification style’ you also adjust that you want to receive notifications via the Notification Center of macOS. To do this, choose ‘Notification Style>Mac’.

Depending on the type of notification, different options are available. For example, you can completely disable certain entries, but that is not possible everywhere. If you want less distraction and no overflowing mailbox, we recommend turning off emails for almost all notifications. You can also choose to show a notification only in the feed. You will then not see a pop-up.

6. This is how you share and store your files

Microsoft Teams has a handy built-in file component. Here you can upload documents for other team members to see and where you can collaborate on the same document. To do this, click on ‘Files’ in the left bar of the app.

In this window you can see recent files, view active files that team members are working on in the ‘Microsoft Teams’ tab, and manage your downloads. Do you also have a OneDrive account? Then you also have access to all files that you have saved there.

7. Use channels to keep things organized

Whether you have many or few people in your team: it is always useful to work with multiple channels. Every team starts with a ‘general’ channel, which as the name suggests is mainly intended for announcements that concern all team members.

For all other conversations, it is much easier to create separate channels. You can then manually invite people to it, so that only the people receive the messages that are relevant. For example, create a channel for your project group or team in the company. You do need permissions to create channels.

8. Blur or change your background during video calling

This function only works for scheduled calls, but can be useful for making a cluttered living room or other people unrecognizable.

  1. Join a conversation;
  2. Three icons appear at the bottom of the screen, followed by three buttons. Turn on the second (middle) button;
  3. Now add yourself to the conversation, your background has been blurred.

If you still want to make visible what is happening behind you during the conversation, you can do this by clicking on the three dots at the bottom of the screen. There you can find the same button to switch the fading on and off. In this overview you can also select other images in addition to blurring backgrounds. With this you can turn a living room into a tropical beach or a trendy apartment.

9. Make your messages stand out in chat

Microsoft has added a number of useful extras to make messages more noticeable. These are all located under the text box where you put your message. Press the three dots to view them all and open more extensive options.

Here you can, for example, post a message in multiple channels at the same time and set who can reply to it. Press the three dots in the bar above the text box again to mark a message as important. That way everyone on your team knows you have something to say that they really need to read. Although this button does lose its power if it is used too often.

10. Switch between different Teams

If you work and follow a study, or if you have several employers with their own Teams, you will have to switch regularly. Unfortunately, no smart function has been devised for this yet, so you will have to do it manually. In that case there is nothing to do but the following:

  1. Click on your avatar in the top right corner of the screen;
  2. Click on unsubscribe;
  3. Log in with your other account.

If you want to go back to your original account, go through the above steps again. Let’s hope Microsoft adds the option to switch accounts faster in the future.

11. Uninstall Microsoft Teams

Have you finished your studies, is your company switching to another video service or do you have another reason? Then you can easily remove Microsoft Teams from your devices. On your iPhone and iPad, it’s a matter of long-pressing the app icon until a small cross appears in the top right corner.

How to remove Microsoft Teams on your Mac:

  1. Completely shut down Microsoft Teams. You do this by going to Microsoft Teams in the Dock and right-clicking. Choose ‘Stop’ to close the app;
  2. Now click on ‘Finder’ in the Dock of your Mac;
  3. In the left column of the Finder window, click “Apps” and find Microsoft Teams;
  4. Right-click on Microsoft Teams in this list and choose ‘Move to Trash’.

How to uninstall Microsoft Teams on Windows:

  1. Completely shut down Microsoft Teams;
  2. Click the Windows Start button (with the Windows logo), go to Settings and choose ‘Apps’;
  3. Under the heading ‘Apps and features’, search for Microsoft Teams’;
  4. Select the app and click on ‘Remove’;
  5. Confirm your choice to delete Microsoft Teams and follow the steps on the screen.

Do you have other questions about Microsoft Teams or is something not clear? Let us know in a comment below this article, and we will supplement the guide with new information where necessary.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Corporation