Teams is getting slash commands!
Microsoft announced several updates for Teams this week.
Most blog posts I saw emphasize the new integrations. While indeed helpful, that wasn’t what caught my eye. Nope…that was the introduction of slash commands!
Those of us who’ve been online for a long time know these already. But in case you aren’t familiar, let’s go through what slash commands are. I think you’ll find them an incredible timesaver.
What is a Slash Command?
A slash command is a short typed phrase, preceded by a slash (/), which causes a specific action within an app. They’re meant to make some everyday functions quick & easy to activate, without your hands leaving the keyboard.
The most common slash command is likely “/away” which sets your status to Away. They can do much more than that, however! When used in a chat app, slash commands let you join a channel, invite other users into a channel, mark yourself as away/busy/available, and dozens of other things.
Where Slash Commands Come From
Slash Commands have been around for a LONG time. I first used them in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) rooms back in the 90s. These pages have lists of the slash commands you could use in IRC.
(Wow, this makes me feel old.)
Nowadays you’ll find slash commands used in major chat platforms like Slack, HipChat, and now Teams!
Slack clearly copied the most popular IRC commands, and expanded on them. You can see the similarities in their slash command list: List of Slack’s Slash Commands
I always had the sense that Slack’s founders were old IRC users like me.
HipChat’s slash commands are a little more involved. But they appear no less easy to use: Keyboard Shortcuts and Slash Commands – HipChat
Even Google Hangouts has some, but they’re mostly limited to fun animations.
Teams joins an illustrious tradition by introducing slash commands. So which commands do Teams users now have?
List of Slash Commands in Teams
Start using slash commands by typing a slash in Teams’ “Search or type a command” box. A list of slash commands will pop up below it for your selection/reference.
- /activity – View someone’s activity
- /available – Changes your Teams status to “Available”
- /away – Changes your Teams status to “Away”
- /busy – Changes your Teams status to “Busy”
- /call – Initiate a call
- /dnd – Changes your Teams status to “Do Not Disturb”
- /files – See your recent files
- /goto – Go to a certain team or channel
- /help – Get help (with Teams; not the ‘lie on the couch’ kind)
- /join – Join a team
- /keys – View keyboard shortcuts
- /mentions – See all of your mentions (handy if your Teams channels are really busy!)
- /org – View an org chart (yours or someone else’s)
- /saved – View your saved list
- /unread – See all of your unread activity
- /whatsnew – Check what’s new in Teams
- /who – Ask Who (a new app that lets you search for people by name or topic) a question
This is the list that comes up in Teams now. We may see more slash commands added over time.
How to Use a Slash Command in Teams
Most slash commands are standalone—they don’t need anything other than the command name to work. But it’s good to know about slash command syntax as well.
After typing a slash command in Teams, you can add parameters after it. These can be other users’ names, or switches that specify the command’s target. Not unlike adding parameters to PowerShell cmdlets.
Let’s go through some examples:
/away – Let’s say I want to mark myself as Away, but I want to make it clear that I’ve got my cellphone with me. I could type the following:
“/away Got my cell if you need me”
Like Skype for business’ Presence, right? Unfortunately status messages like these are not displayed in Teams yet. It is on the roadmap though, so I wanted to point out how easy this is.
/goto – Let’s say I want to open the “Business Development” channel. When you enter slash commands like /goto, a list of available options will appear below the command field. You can either type out the location you want, or click to select it from the list.
/invite – Want to add someone into your channel? The /invite command lets you do so without leaving the channel. Just type /invite “TheirUserName” and done!
Like Keyboard Shortcuts (but Better), Slash Commands Speed Up Working in Teams
Think of slash commands like shortcuts. They let you skip several mouse clicks and loading screens. You just type out a word, add whatever parameter you want, and Teams does the rest.
The old IRC nut in me very much appreciates having slash commands once again. This was a surprise to see on the Teams update list—but a welcome one!
What do you think about having slash commands in Teams?