What is Slack?

We’re glad you asked! Slack is where work happens. It’s a digital workspace that powers your organization — all the pieces and the people — so you can get things done.


The basics 

The people of your Slack team

A Slack team is comprised of the following people:

👑  A Team Owner

🤖  Admins

👥  Team Members

🙋  Guests

Here’s how it works: A Team Owner creates a Slack team, recruits Admins to help manage and organize the team, and they together invite and onboard the team’s members.

💡  Ready to dive deeper? Check out Roles and permissions in Slack.


The pieces of your Slack team

To understand how Slack really works, it helps to know how all the pieces fit together. Here’s a snapshot of what a typical Slack workspace looks like:


And here are the main components we'll break down for you, piece-by-piece:

  • teams and workspaces
  • channels
  • messages
  • search
  • notifications


Teams & workspaces

A team is a group of people that use Slack to communicate. Your team is likely comprised of the people you work with every day. A Slack team — or workspace is also the digital space you and your teammates share to communicate and get work done. 

If you’re part of a small to medium-sized company, you and your fellow co-workers will likely all be members of one Slack team.

If you’re part of a larger organization — possibly comprised of many locations, people, and sub-groups — you may have multiple interconnected Slack workspaces. Each workspace acts as a separate team, but all are interconnected and powered through Slack’s Enterprise Grid.

Within your Slack team or workspace, you’ll have access to all the other pieces that make your work hum along.



Your Slack workspace is comprised of channels. You’ll use channels to hold most of your conversations with other team members. They can be organized around anything — departments, projects, or even office locations — and you can create as many as you need. Every team starts with two channels by default:  #general and #random.

Tip: All team members are required to be in #general, making it great for company-wide announcements and updates.

In Slack, there are two kinds of channels: public and private.

👀  Public channels:
They're open to your entire team. All messages within a public channel are archived in Slack and are searchable by all your team members, except for Guests of your Slack team. You can identify a public channel by the  next to its name.
🙈  Private channels:
They allow a group of teammates to discuss and share privately within Slack. You have to be invited to a private channel in order to see and search for its contents. All private channels have a  lock icon next to the channel name.

Here is an example of a discussion taking place in the private channel,  annual-meeting. These teammates are preparing for their department’s annual meeting in a channel that only they can access — notes, messages, and files included.


💡  Learn how to create a channel in Slack and when to choose a channel over a direct message.


Direct messages 

When you need to quickly chat or check in with teammates, you can send them a direct message (DM). Direct messages are best for ad-hoc, quick discussions. These conversations are only visible to and searchable by you and the other team members you DM. You can DM just one person, or start a group message with up to 8 other people.


💡  Read more about direct messages and group DMs.


Sending messages

Communication in Slack happens through messages, whether they’re in channels or DMs. Most communication should happen in public channels to create a transparent and searchable archive of your team’s work. No matter where they’re shared, you can format your messages to help present your ideas. Did we mention emoji? Use them to enhance your own or to react to your teammates’ messages.

Here’s a message someone’s working on for the upcoming team meeting:


💡  Learn how to format your messages and all about using emoji.



With the transparent flow of information in Slack, Search is your way to narrow down and find the information you need to get work done. You’ll notice a search box in the upper-right corner of Slack — it’s there any time you need it. Simply type a word or phrase in the search box to start looking. You can even use a number of modifiers to help you narrow your results.


💡  Wait, there's more! Review how to search for messages and files in Slack and when you’re comfortable with the basics, check out our advanced tips.



Notifications are Slack’s way of telling you about items that need your attention. You can choose to receive notifications on your desktop, your mobile device, or by email. Notifications can even be customized by channel, so you can prioritize where your attention goes.


💡  Learn more about setting up Slack Notifications and make a visit to your Notifications page to get yours set up.


What's next?

No introductory course is complete without a little homework! Check out the Slack glossary to learn more about some important Slack terms.

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