Top Tips for Getting the Best out of Working with Slack (infographic)

As companies have embraced remote working ever more, even before the lockdown caused by Coronavirus, there has been the need for quick and easy communication tools. Over the years various options have been used, like AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and Google Chat, but recent years have seen Slack become the instant chat platform of choice for many workplaces, with over 12 million employees from 600,000 businesses using it to collaborate keep in touch and share watercooler talk about the latest Netflix show.

If you haven’t used it before, it can be quite daunting to be thrown into the Slack deep end at a new company, where everyone else already seems like a super-user, and there are bound to be more job-specific tasks that you need to be shown before anyone sits down with you to explain how Slack works. But if this situation sounds familiar, or even if you’re amongst those already using it for a collective 50 million hours a week, here are some tips to optimize your Slack chats.

Keyboard shortcuts

One thing to note at this point is that Slack isn’t your job, even if sometimes it might feel that way. It’s a tool to help you do your actual job, but if your boss sees you on there all day, they might start to wonder exactly how productive your day has been. So you need to know how to achieve what you need to achieve in there as quickly and efficiently as possible, and that’s where keyboard shortcuts come in.


You might already use keyboard shortcuts in other programs like Word to copy and paste and they can definitely save some time. But they can also be like a secret language that nobody ever teaches you, so the first shortcut you need to know in Slack is “Ctrl and /” (“⌘ and /” on Macs), which opens up the list of all of the shortcuts available on there, so if you can only remember one of them, make it this one.

Other shortcuts allow you to open direct channels, upload files, open directories, set a status, search in direct messages, set ‘do not disturb’ or add co-workers to a call. The ones that will be the most useful to you will be the ones that you would use on a daily basis, so why not try learning those and training yourself to use them. In no time it’ll be second nature to you.

Channel hacks

Direct messages are important parts of Slack, but much of the important action happens in Channels, whether they are for teams, sub-teams, company-wide announcements or watercooler chat. So if you don’t want to miss out, you need to know how to get the best of these channels, and these hacks will help.

When you first join a company, your boss and helpful colleagues will invite you to all kinds of channels that you may need as part of the process of settling into the company. This might feel overwhelming and confusing, so one useful hack is to know how to pin the channels that you ACTUALLY use. You can do this by hovering over one you want to pin, doing Ctrl and left click and selecting Star Channel. This moves it into the Starred Channels list for easy access.


What about those other channels? There’s bound to be ones that are less useful and if they get used a lot, this can mean endless pointless notifications popping up on your screen and distracting you. Selecting the cog icon and Notification Preferences allows you to determine what notifications you receive and you can also mute individual channels if you’re finding them particularly annoying but don’t want to actively leave them.

Message hacks

It’s important to know what you’re doing with channels, not least because you don’t want to be that new person who makes a colossal faux pas on the company-wide chat channel, but you’ll also find direct messages useful for liaising with your boss and immediate co-workers directly. One hack to help you get better at this is to make sure you are also talking to… yourself. No, really.

You can find your own name in Direct Messages and can you use this section to send yourself reminders, or make lists or notes and be able to refer to them easily later. But of course, most of your messages will be to and from other people, and it’s important to be able to keep track of them all. If you’re flooded with messages, you can use Sort to order them by newest or oldest to see which order you should be reading and responding to them.


A really useful hack that could potentially even save your job is knowing how that you can edit your messages after sending them. So if a horrifying typo has crept into your company-wide message or you’ve accidentally insulted your boss, don’t panic, just hover over More Actions and click Edit Message, then fix the problem and click Save Changes. Phew! People will be able to see that you’ve edited the message, but that’s normally better than the alternative.

Slack is an incredibly useful tool for modern workplaces, and while it can be a daunting world to jump into when you first encounter it, learning these tips and hacks will not only save you some time but will also ensure that you are getting the most out of it.

45 Slack hacks to boost productivity & improve collaboration (infographic)
Top Tips for Getting the Best out of Working with Slack (infographic)
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