What is Slack?

We’re glad you asked! Slack is a collaboration hub that connects your organization — all the pieces and the people — so you can get things done.

Why use Slack?

  • Collaborate online just like you would in person.
  • Bring the right people and information together in one place.
  • Communicate efficiently, stay connected, and get things done faster.

The basics 

The people

A Workspace Owner creates a Slack workspace, promotes Admins to help manage the team, and they together invite and onboard members. As a whole, a workspace is comprised of the following people:

👑  Workspace Owners
🤖  Workspace Admins
👥  Members
🙋  Guests

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

Your workspace

A workspace is a shared hub where members communicate and collaborate. Smaller to medium sized companies will typically share one workspace. Larger enterprises will have an Enterprise Grid organization made up of multiple interconnected workspaces.

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

The pieces 

To understand how Slack really works, it helps to know how all the pieces fit together. We'll cover channels, messages, search, and notifications.

Below is a snapshot of what a typical Slack workspace looks like:WHAT_IS_SLACK_Slack_overview.png

The plans

For companies or teams that use a single workspace, there are three pricing plans to choose from: Free, Standard, or Plus

For larger companies, our Enterprise Grid plan brings multiple workspaces into a single, connected organization. 

💡Learn more about Slack pricing and plans.


Slack is comprised of channels: a single place for messaging, tools, and files. Most of your communication with other members will happen in channels.

They can be organized around anything — departments, projects, or even office locations — and you can create as many channels as you need. Every workspace starts with two by default: a #general channel and a #random channel.

Channel types

👀Public Channels

  • Public channels are open to your entire workspace.
  • Messages are archived in Slack and searchable by all members, except guests.
  • A public channel has a # hashtag icon in its name.

🙈Private Channels

  • Private channels are not open to your entire workspace.
  • You have to be invited to view and participate in the channel's discussion.
  • A private channel has a  lock icon in its name.

🔗Shared Channels (beta)

  • Shared channels connect two unique workspaces.
  • They're a great place to communicate with external contacts.
  • A shared channel has a  double diamond icon in its name.  


To communicate in Slack, share a message in a channel, or send someone a direct message (DM)

Channels vs. DMs

Generally, Slack works best when the majority of communication happens in public channels. Direct messages are best for ad-hoc conversations that don't require an entire channel to weigh in.  

Message formatting

You can format your messages to help present your ideas. Don't forget emoji! Use them to enhance your own messages, or to add a reaction to someone else's.

If you need to call the attention of someone specific, type @ followed by their display name to send them a notification. We call this an @-mention.

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. 


With the transparent flow of information in Slack, Search is your way to narrow down and find what you need.

You’ll find a search field 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.

💡 Learn how to search for messages and files.



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.


What's next?

No introductory course is complete without a little homework! View our Getting Started category to learn more about using Slack, and see a demo!

Boost your skills! We offer a free, interactive training app to transform how you work in Slack. Add the Slack Foundry app to your workspace to get started.🏅

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