Getting started for new users

Welcome aboard! We've put together this guide to help you get started and make Slack work for you.

 

Takeaways

  • Download our apps for desktop and mobile to get the best Slack experience.  
  • Use public channels to keep your work transparent. These conversations instantly create a searchable archive of knowledge — like your team's collective brain.
  • Customize your notifications so you don’t miss anything that's important to you.
  • Share files in Slack and others can give you feedback, all in one place.
  • Explore our App Directory to start integrating the tools you already use directly into Slack — and discover new apps along the way.

Sign up

Imagine all your team communication in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go. That’s Slack. Once your organization has created a team for you, you can join the conversation here using your work email address: https://my.slack.com.

Or, click Join team if you receive an email invitation to join your organization's Slack team.

We also recommend you download our apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac at https://slack.com/downloads.


Channels: where the magic happens

Most conversations in Slack are organized into public channels which anyone on your team can join. You can also send messages privately, but the true power of Slack comes from having conversations everyone on the team can see. This transparency means it’s quick to find out what’s going on all across the team, and when someone new joins, all the information they need is laid out, ready for them to read up on.

To prioritize the things that are important to you, try starring a handful of your favorite channels. Just mouse over the channel name and click the star icon   to add it to your Starred list.

We recommend starring channels that are most essential your work: your team, your projects, or upcoming events you need to keep an eye on. Now you can easily check these channels more frequently, while scanning others only once or twice a day.

Besides public channels and direct messages, you can also create private channels for subjects that are sensitive, confidential, or should be otherwise limited. You can also create a group message of up to eight other people if you have a couple of teammates that you collaborate with in a short-term, lightweight basis. Private channels and group messages will only be visible to those in the channel or group.

When in doubt, create a public channel. Public conversations are how you build a database of organizational knowledge with zero effort—and a key way to draw your team into Slack.

While sending messages in Slack is pretty self-explanatory, there are a few matters of etiquette worth pointing out. Use @mentions to get someone’s attention in a channel. Type @ followed by their username, e.g. @jdoe. They’ll see a red badge on the channel and be notified via email or their mobile device if they’re not active in Slack. You can also notify everyone in a channel by typing @channel, but please use this sparingly! While it’s useful for important announcements, it can quickly be distracting if abused. 


Slack to your needs

The Team Menu is located next to your name in the upper left corner. Here, you’ll find options to set up Slack in a way that suits you.


Set up notifications

Under Preferences, you’ll find highly configurable notifications to make sure you see the important stuff as soon as you need to without being distracted by the rest. In compatible browsers and our desktop app, Slack will show desktop notifications when you’re mentioned in a channel. Whenever you’re not active on Slack, after a few minutes we’ll send either a mobile push notification or email notification depending on your preferences and whether you have the mobile app installed.

You can also customize your notification settings for any channel, depending on how actively you want to keep up with that conversation. That way, you can mute channels like your team’s indecisive #lunch channel, but choose to get notified of every message so you never miss a cute kitten picture in #cats again.

For channels you want to be a part of but can’t keep up with, highlight words are very useful. Any time someone mentions one of your highlight words or phrases, you’ll be notified. Use it for your name, your nicknames, your projects, customers, teams, areas of interest, etc. If you receive too many notifications, you can always trim them back, but this is an efficient way to stay plugged into conversations across many channels.

Turn on Do Not Disturb mode to snooze all Slack notifications (including sounds) on any device—whether you just need an hour to attend a meeting or need time to yourself after work. Meanwhile, your teammates can continue to send you messages without worrying about bothering you.

Click the bell icon   next to your team name in the sidebar to turn on Do Not Disturb. You can also visit your notification preferences to schedule a default set of Do Not Disturb hours for when you’re off the clock.

Once you sign up, you can find all of these settings in one place: https://my.slack.com/account/notifications.


Upload files and create posts or snippets

You can upload files — like a photo, a document, or a PDF — in a few easy ways:

  • Click the plus icon   on the left hand side of the message box.
  • Drag and drop your file into a channel.
  • Take a screengrab, then use Ctrl/Cmd + V to paste it in.

Excellent Tip: Give your files a good, sensible title when you upload them — it makes ’em easier to find later!

Posts and snippets are two types of files team members can create and share within Slack. To get started with either of these file types, click on the plus icon next to the input box.

  • Posts are good for sharing notes and longer pieces of writing with your team.
  • Snippets are best for sharing code or recreating a preformatted block of text.


Emoji

Slack fully supports emoji: In fact, we kind of love them. Just click the smiley face on the right hand of the message box side to open the emoji menu, or type : and hit Tab to see a list of quick emoji codes. There are many different styles of emoji to choose from; for more options, open the Team Menu, choose Preferences, and select the Messages & Media tab.


Search

Search is one of Slack's core features: Messages and files you add to Slack are instantly searchable, so you can quickly come back to documents and discussions when you need them.

You can use special modifiers (like ‘in:’, ‘from:’, etc.) to focus results based on a channel, person, or date. Results can be filtered by recency, relevancy, and file type so you can easily find what you need.

Every file you share in Slack (whether uploaded directly, or imported with an integration) is indexed in search. You can easily search for any file — and search the file’s contents — directly within Slack.

 

Download this guide 1.9MB PDF — Need to take this on the go or just fancy some light reading? We’ve got you covered.

 


More resources for using Slack