9 Slack Customisations You Should Try to Make Work Easier (or More Fun)

9 Slack Customisations You Should Try to Make Work Easier (or More Fun)
Photo: Sulastri Sulastri, Shutterstock

Depending on your job, chances are you’re spending hours on Slack. It’s become “where work happens,” like their tagline says. But you might not feel at home with the stock Slack configuration, and there are plenty of ways to make it your own? Here’s how to personalise your Slack account, from adding custom emojis, to taking control of the sidebar, to creating your own custom theme.

Get the basics out of the way

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

If you have just joined someone’s Slack workspace or you’ve created a new one for yourself, you should start by configuring your profile.

In the Slack desktop app or the web app, click on your name from the top-right corner, and choose the “Edit Profile” option. You can change your full name, display name, title, phone number, time zone, and profile picture. Make sure you use a recognisable profile picture and that your display name and title are accurate.

Change your notification sound

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

If you work in an office with multiple people, you know the startled feeling you get when you hear the familiar Slack tone from across the room. One way to deal with that is to change your notification sound so you can make sure it’s not coming from someone else’s PC. Click the workspace name from the top of the sidebar, and go to Preferences > Notifications > Sound & Appearance and switch to a different sound.

Customise your notifications

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

While you’re in the Notifications section in Preferences, tune the notifications settings to suit your needs (and to help you take healthy breaks from Slack).

Notify Me About: From this section, you can choose to only get notified about direct messages, mentions, and keywords.

Notification Schedule: You can change the Do Not Disturb time to your liking. By default, Slack doesn’t notify you about any messages between 10 a.m. and 8 a.m., but you can increase or decrease that time frame.

Sound & Appearance: From here, you can disable the badge for the app icon (which shows pending notifications). If you want, you can mute all sounds from Slack as well.

Star your frequently used conversations

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Suffering from channel fatigue? The Starred feature lets you access your frequent channels and conversations right at the top. Open the channel or the conversation that you access most often, click the name from the top, and click the “Star” button next to the name. This will add the conversation to a new Starred section at the top, making it easy to access.

Customise your sidebar

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Slack’s sidebar is the gateway to all your channels and conversations, so it helps to take some time to organise it (and make it clutter-free). Go to the “Sidebar” section in “Preferences” and from the “Always show in the sidebar” section, uncheck the sections that you want to hide.

Add multiple sections to your sidebar

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

If you’re a member of a paid Slack workspace, you can customise the sidebar using multiple sections. From the desktop app or the website, hover over the three-dotted “Menu” button next to the Channels heading in the sidebar. Here, select the “Create New Section” option. Type out the name of the new section (you can also add an emoji here). Then click the “Create” button.

You’ll find a new empty section in the sidebar. Simply drag and drop a channel or a private conversation to the section. You can create multiple sections to organise all your channels, and you can expand or collapse them based on your needs.

Lastly, if you want to focus on a conversation, you can quickly hide the sidebar (with all the distracting unread messages) using the Command+ Shift+ D shortcut on the Mac, or the Control + Shift + D shortcut on Windows.

Switch to a better theme

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Slack has the option to automatically switch between the light and the dark theme based on your OS’s appearance. You can find the option in the “Themes” section in “Preferences.” Here, enable the “Sync with OS Setting” option to activate the feature. If you scroll down, you’ll also find dozens of different themes (both in light and dark mode). You can just click one to apply it instantly.

Create your own theme

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Don’t like the default theme selection? You can create your own theme as well. And all it takes is changing some colour values for each visual section of the Slack sidebar.

In the “Colours” section in “Preferences,” click the “Create a Custom Theme” button. Here, you can click on each section to change the colour, or you can enter a colour HEX code.

You can use a third-party Slack theme site like Slack Themes to make this process even simpler. You’ll find many Slack sidebar themes on the website.

Choose a theme that you like and just copy the colour codes. Go back to Slack’s Sidebar preferences page, and paste the colour codes in the text box below the colour picker. Voila, you have a new custom theme.

Create some custom emojis

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Slack pioneered emojis in the work chat, but it slacked off when it came to adding the latest emojis. If you can’t find an emoji that you like in Slack, or if you want to make things more fun, try adding custom emojis. Slackmojis is a great resource for downloading still and GIF emojis.

Workspace owners and admins can add emojis to Slack (but guests can’t). To get started, click the “Emoji” icon next to the text box, and select the “Add Emoji” button.

Now, you can either go to the “Emoji Packs” screen to add an emoji pack from Slack’s directory (there are three available packs at the time of writing). To upload a custom emoji, switch to the “Custom Emoji” tab. Here, click the “Upload Image” button to upload a custom emoji. This can be a PNG file or even a GIF file. Give it a name (it will also be the command that you use to enter the emoji), and click the “Save” button. Repeat the process for all the emojis that you want to add.

To send the new emoji, just go to the text box, start with the colon (:) symbol, type the emoji name, select the emoji, and hit Enter.

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