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Teams Basics: Get Oriented With Teams, Channels, Tabs, and Chat

The left navigation column directs you to Chat, Teams, and more.

This article applies to: Microsoft Teams

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For much of what you need to do in Teams, you'll be looking at two areas, found in the left-hand menu:

  • Chat
  • Teams

Teams and Chat are accessed through Teams' main menu


Chat has the basic features you would expect--individual and group chat, the ability to share a file or start a meeting. If you click Chat, you'll see a list of everyone you've chatted with. 

To connect with someone for the first time, select New Chat, then start typing their name or NetID. 

Start a new chat

To add more people for a group chat, enter their information in the same field, or if you've already started talking, click on Add people.

Add more individuals to chat by selecting View and add participants


Teams is for group collaborative effort, discussion, file sharing, and coordination. The team is a group of people who need to work together.

Each team will have several channels. Channels exist to prevent the confusion that occurs when all the different things that a group works on are mixed together in one chat or file storage space. 

In the example below, someone looking in the Service Planning team for discussion and files for only a single topic like training or promotion could find their way to them easily through the channel devoted to each.

A team has multiple channels to keep different subjects clear

Inside each channel, there are tabs specific to that channel. These separate out chat threads (Posts) from uploaded files from notes and other elements associated with a channel. 

In each channel, you will find tabs, like Posts and FIles

There are many options for adding more tabs for notebooks, integrations, and other things you may want to access from a channel, but all will have Posts and Files. 

Inside Posts, you can keep discussions clear by using Reply at the bottom of a post. When replies are used, it's possible to scroll through the individual discussions later, find one you're looking for, then expand it by clicking See More.

Reply to conversations and use see more to expand them

To take your discussion further, see Microsoft's Optimize team conversations.


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