How to Use Slack
Slack is a productivity and chat platform for team communication and collaboration. To get started, you’ll need to create a team (or join an existing one), then invite users to chat with. Once your chat is set up, you can use channels to communicate publicly and direct messages for private exchanges. While chatting you can use special formatting, add emoji/reactions, track mentions, share files, and more.
Part 1Setting Up a Team
You can use Slack on their website at or by downloading the app for desktop or mobile platforms at . It may be easiest to perform the setup from the website, then proceed to one of the apps to begin chatting.
On the website, this field appears in the middle of the page. You will be prompted to enter a team name.
You may be prompted to enter a 6-digit security code sent to your email before being able to proceed. On mobile devices, you will be prompted for an email after tapping “Create Team”. You can also click “Find Your Team” if you already know of a team you are trying to join.
You will be prompted to create a web domain for your team.
You will be prompted to enter your name and username. All team domains will end in “.slack.com”.
You will be prompted to review your team’s details before creation.
You will be taken to your team’s chat room. You can select “Edit” next to any part of the your team to go back and change it before confirming.
Click the “Invite People” button located in the left sidebar. This will bring up a page to enter email addresses and names to which invitations can be sent.
On mobile, this button will appear at the top of the main chat screen and can also access your device’s contacts for invitations. If you have joined a team and do not have Admin role privileges, then this button may not appear.
Click “+” next to “Channel” in the left sidebar. From here you can set a name, invite users, and choose whether it will be public (viewable/joinable by anyone on the team) or private (invite-only). To access the sidebar on mobile, tap the team name in the upper left corner.
Click the “+” icon next to “Direct Messages”. Enter a teammate’s name and a direct message channel will be created in the left sidebar for private communication between you and that user. Direct message channels can contain multiple teammates.
Click the Gear icon in the upper right and select “Notification Preferences”. From here you can adjust what actions (such as any message or mentions-only) will send you a notification on any platform associated with your account.
You can set custom notifications for mentions of specific words. These can be accessed from the settings menu on mobile. You can temporarily disable notifications by pressing the Bell icon in the upper left (upper right on mobile)
Part 2Messaging and Workflow
If you are part of multiple teams with you account, you can switch between them by clicking the team name in the upper left and choosing to “Sign into another team”. On mobile, you will see a four square icon in the upper right after tapping the team name instead of “Sign into another team”.
Click any name under the “Channel” header in the left sidebar to change the chat area to that conversation.
You can also hit Ctrl+K to bring up a channel quick search. Tap the team name in the upper left to open the sidebar on mobile.
Enter text into the text field and hit ↵ Enter to send. You can add emoji to your messages by with the smiley button on the right side of the text field (left side on mobile).
You can surround parts (or all) of your text with certain symbols to change your formatting. A full list of formatting interactions can be found on the .
Using an asterisk (*) on each side of the message will display it in boldface. Using underscores (_) will italicize text. Using tildes (~) will strikethrough text. Use a triple backtick (```) on each side to format your text with a codebox.
Click the three dot icon displayed on the right of a message when you hover the cursor over it. This will bring up a menu to edit, delete, mark unread, pin, or set a reminder for that message.
Tap and hold a message on mobile to bring up the full list of modifying options. Pinning a message will place it at the top of a channel and display it as you scroll. Use this for important announcements. You can select a period from 20 minutes to 1 week before the reminder takes place.
Click the Star icon that appears next to the timestamp when hovering the cursor over the messages. This will add it to a list of saved messages that can be check later by clicking the Star icon in the upper right. On mobile, tap a message to select it, then tap the star that appears at the top of the screen. You can check your starred message by tapping the team name and selecting “Starred” from the dropdown menu in the upper left.
Type “@” followed by the username of the person you want to mention. They will receive a slack notification that they have been mentioned in a chat.
For example: “@user: slack message”. You can also use mentions to address an entire channel or team (@channel, @team). You can check messages in which you’ve been mentioned by clicking the “@” icon in the upper right corner. On mobile, this is accessed by tapping the team name and selecting “Mentions” from the dropdown menu in the upper left.
Click the smiley icon when hovering over a message to add an emoji reaction that will display directly below the message. These can be used for something like votes, or just for fun.
Reactions can also be added to messages from the modify message menu. On mobile this is the only way to add them. Reactions can only be emoji.
Tap the “+” button in the chat field and select “Upload File” from the popup menu to browse your device for files.
You can also drag and drop files into the chat window on a computer. On mobile you can take and upload photos from the same chat field menu. Slack will store up to 5GB of files (including images) on its servers. This amount can be increased by upgrading to their paid services.
Part 3Additional Techniques
Enter “/remind” into a text field followed by a person (@user) or channel (#channel), action, and time. Slack will set an automatic reminder for the entered information.
The standard formatting is: “/remind [person] [what] [when]”. For example, “/remind #general to clock out at 5:00 PM!”. The “when” can be a specific time (at 12:00 PM) or a general period (in 5 minutes). Reminders will appear as direct messages from slackbot.
Click “+” on the left side of the text field and select “Create a Snippet”. This will open a window to with various options for formatting a codebox.
Select a programming language from the dropdown in the upper left and slack will match the color formatting for the different values. Select the “Share In” dropdown to choose which channel or conversations your snippet is shared. Enter a comment that will be included underneath your codebox. Mobile can only use the basic “```” formatting tag to use code boxes.
Click a timestamp on the left side of a message. You will be taken to the archive page of that message and any other messages sent directly after or in response to it.
The archive link is permanent and can be shared. Mobile users can tap a message, then tap the Link icon in the upper right.
If you have Admin access to your team, you can go to slack.com/integrations and choose from a list of app extensions to include in your Slack for direct interaction.
Various productivity services like Google Drive, Trello, or Dropbox have well maintained Slack extensions. You can also integrate third party bots to serve more specific purposes than the included slackbot.