Slack has rapidly grown to become the collaboration hub for modern workplaces around Australia. Everyday, people plug into Slack channels to discuss ideas, collaborate on projects, and share, search and archive key documents and conversations.
However, many workers aren’t making full use of the range of features that Slack offers. Whether you’re new to Slack or are already the Slack guru of your workplace, the below 16 hacks will help unlock a whole new world of productivity potential.
- Keeping your sidebar neat: For users that are in a lot of channels, to make things simpler, in your Slack preferences hit “Advanced Options” then under “Channel List” select “Just my unread channels and DMs”. That way, your channel list will only display the channels you haven’t read yet.
- Quick messaging: You’re rushing out the door to attend a conference you’re late for, but before leaving you have to remind your line manager that you will be out of the office for the rest of the day. Just type /msg @Name or /dm @Name into any message text box to send a direct message to whoever you want (in this case your line manager). Done! Now it’s time to get to that meeting, pronto.
- Jump between conversations: You are a multitasking machine but you’re getting tired of scrolling and then clicking between channels and conversations on Slack. The ‘Quick Switcher’ is the fastest way to open any conversation: Simply hit [Ctrl]+[K] on a PC, or [⌘]+[K] if you’re using a Mac.
- Catch up. FAST: On manic days when you’re running from meeting to meeting, you can quickly catch up in Slack by using [Option]+[Shift]+[↑] / [Alt]+[Shift]+[↑] to move to the next unread conversation, or [Option]+[Shift]+[↓] / [Alt]+[Shift]+[↓] to go back one.
- Automated reminders: For project managers that want to supercharge the way they work, but are too busy to be constantly nudging people on deadlines — you need reminders.Type /remind @YourName, whatever you need to do, and when – eg. /remind @sam to book meeting room tomorrow. If the reminder is for someone else, just enter their @Name instead and they’ll be reminded at the relevant time, via Slack’s integrated and automated bot, Slackbot.
- Mark unread: Reminders might not be your thing — perhaps you prefer marking messages as unread rather than receiving a Slackbot ping for a reminder? Well you can do just that by hovering over a message, selecting the *‘…’* button, and click *‘Mark unread’*to come back to it later.
- Do Not Disturb: An incredibly useful tool for when you need a block of uninterrupted time to do focussed work. Snooze your notifications by typing /dnd in any channel, and enter the amount of time you want to be notification free. Then get back in the zone.
- Follow important keywords: You always seem to be the last person to see updates in Slack – even for the topics you really care about. That’s now a thing of the past, as you can get notifications when particular words are used in your channels. Just type /prefs, then edit My Keywords in your notification settings to add your terms (and don’t forget to separate with commas).
- Google Drive: Are you tired of saving and dragging Google Drive files into Slack to keep the team up to speed? Well, no more. The Google Drive app allows you to just paste the shareable link and the file will be imported straight away. You’ll have a short set-up process the first time you do this, then you’re good to go.
- Customise your Slackbot: No one likes being asked the same questions over and over again. Actually, that’s not true – Slack’s integrated and automated bot, Slackbot does. Teach Slackbot responses to frequent or important queries so you can get on with your working day. Customise its responses in your channels via the Customize Your Workspace page, so that when someone uses specific words and phrases, Slackbot will respond (requesting the office Wi-Fi password is a good place to start).
- Simple Poll: Your team REALLY needs to talk through the next project, but everyone seems to be busy with meetings, and you’re tired of booking, cancelling and re-booking meeting rooms. You just need to know what time works for the most people. Add this Slack app, then just type /poll followed by the “question?” and the “options” to quickly gather votes on your chosen topic. For example: /poll “When should we have our meeting?” “1pm” “2pm” “3pm”. No more back and forth.
- Advanced searching: There is SO much stuff in your Slack now. Searching for ‘monthly report’ turns up dozens of items but you just want the version of the March report that Sarah shared. Cut straight to what you need using search modifiers, such as in:channel (to find messages and files in a specific channel), to:me (for finding direct messages sent to you), and before:date, after:date or on:date/month/year, to narrow your search to a specific timeframe.
- Pipe in Twitter feeds: Need to stay on top of industry news and happenings but don’t have time to keep visiting different websites? You can pipe in Twitter feeds to help you stay informed, all without leaving Slack. Search Slack’s App Directory, install the Twitter integration, select the @username and the tweets you would like to see, and voila. You’re in the know!
- Stars for speed: Can’t find that article,your team leader told everyone they HAD to read? In the future, click the star next to a message’s time stamp to make it easy to discover again later. When you click the star icon at the top of the screen later, you’ll be able to access all your starred messages. It’s like web page bookmarks, but for Slack.
- Zoom: Sometimes it’s better to have a face-to-face conversation. But that doesn’t mean you have to walk to the other side of the building to catch up with Tom in person about that expenses spreadsheet you just can’t wrap your head around. With Zoom’s Slack app integration, you can hit the call button to open up a conference session straight from Slack – and you can share your screen while you do it.
- Keyboard shortcuts: You may be a Slack power user, but everyone’s a little forgetful sometimes. If you need a reminder of Slack’s keyboard shortcuts then just hit [Ctrl+/] on Windows or [⌘+/] on Mac to pull up the full list of shortcuts.
Arturo Arrarte is head of growth at Slack, Asia Pacific.