14 tips and tricks to master Slack, one of the most popular work apps in the world

If you work in an office, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Slack. Even if you don’t use it yourself, you’ve surely heard from a friend how great the business-chat platform is. By offering companies an alternative to endless email chains and tine-consuming meetings, Slack helped usher in an era of casual workplace interaction.

As great as Slack may be, though, there’s probably a good chance that you aren’t making the most of everything the platform has to offer. From handy keyboard shortcuts to useful software integrations, there’s a lot Slack can do that you probably aren’t taking advantage of. 

Here’s what you need to know in order to use Slack like a pro. 

Change the way your Slack window looks

Slack

Most Slack users will likely tell you the site looks purple (or aubergine, if they really know their colours).

What they might not know is that Slack actually provides users a number of colour options should they want to change the look of their chat.

To change the colour of your sidebar, go to (Preferences) and then select (Sidebar Theme). From there, you can slect from six preset options, ranging from Slack's traditional aubergine to an all-white 'Hoth' theme. If you're feeling creative, the platform also gives you the option to create your own custom theme, which you can share with your colleagues.

Learn your keyboard shortcuts

Slack

Like any computer program worth its salt, Slack rewards those who have a drive to increase their efficiency. There are a lot of shortcuts available, so take the time to figure out which ones you will be using the most.

To view all the available shortcuts hit (⌘ /) on Mac or (Ctrl /) on Windows.

Save space in your chatroom with this handy command

Slack

A lively Slack channel can be an exciting, colourful place. Sometimes, though, there are only so many times you can watch the same GIF loop over and over before you go crazy. Luckily, Slack has an easy-to-use command built right in.

When GIFs, pictures, and YouTube videos start getting overwhelming, simply type '/collapse' into your text box to make them all disappear. This won't eliminate the messages, but it will hide the media that is taking up precious screen real estate.

To bring back the media, simply enter the command '/expand.'

Show your coworkers how laid back you are by adding a ¯_(ツ)_/¯ to your messages

Lucasfilm

This one is easy. Just enter the command '/shrug' before your message and Slack will add a little shruggie emoticon to the end of your sentence.

Create a poll to settle the office lunch debate once and for all (or at least until tomorrow)

Slack

Slack is great for a lot of things, but making decisions isn't always one of them. Whether the office is debating pizza toppings or what bar to go to for Friday's happy hour, the chatroom allows for endless argument.

Thankfully, it's easy to create a poll in Slack. Just type '/poll' and follow the on-screen instructions.

Choose specific words to get notifications for

Slack

Slack will automatically notify you if someone tags you or mentions your name, but if you are working on a project that spans multiple Slack channels, you can set the service to notify you whenever certain keywords are mentioned.

To do this, click (Preferences) and then select (Notifications). You can enter as many keywords as you like, and will receive a notification as well as a badge on the channel name when they are mentioned.

Choose the emoji style that best suits your personality

Slack

Unlike traditional email, where smiley and emoji use is generally verboten, Slack encourages a fun and light-hearted atmosphere. The chat platform even goes so far as to let each user customise the style of emoji that they see.

By going into (Preferences) and then selecting (Messages and Media), users can select between the four main emoji styles: Apple's, Google's, Twitter's, and Emoji One.

Note: Changing the style will only affect the emojis on your screen. If you have your Slack set to display Twitter-style emojis, but your boss has her Slack set to Apple style, anything you send her will show up in Apple's style on her screen.

Format your messages for maximum effectiveness

Slack

Formatting your messages is a quick and easy way to make sure your tone translates properly over text, and allows you to place emphasis where you want. You just need to remember which symbols to add to your messages to achieve the desired effect.

Bold: *your text*

Italics: _your text_

Strikethrough: ~your text~

Become the most popular Slacker in your office by mastering Giphy

When I first joined Business Insider, I was in awe at how quickly my colleagues were able to post the perfect GIF for any situation while I was stuck trawling through giphy.com to find something adequate. Eventually I learned about the '/giphy' command, and I'm here to tell you that it changed my life.

To access it, just type in '/giphy' followed by whatever search terms you need. You will be shown a random .GIF that your query brought up, but you can easily swap it out for another one by hitting 'shuffle.' Once you've settled on the perfect .GIF, hit 'send' and wait for the adulation to pour in.

If nothing happens as a result of your '/giphy' search, it might mean that your Slack channel does not have Giphy integrated. Reach out to your Slack admin and tell them to visit this page to set it up.

Set up Slack reminders so nothing ever slips your mind again

Slack

One of the best built-in Slack commands is '/remind.' You can set it to give you a personal reminder, or you can have it remind someone else on your Slack team about something they need to do.

For example, if they were borrowing your headphones for the day, you could tell Slack '/remind @person to return my headphones at 4:00.' And once 4 p.m. rolled around, they will receive a polite reminder from Slackbot.

Never let an important message get buried again

Kaufman Mercantile

One of the cons of Slack being a chat app is that messages are constantly being sent all day long. It's easy for an important link, file, or message to get pushed out of view by an active conversation.

Next time you see or post something you don't want to get buried, open the message actions and select 'Pin to #channel.' This will place a pin in the post, and you will be able to access it any time by clicking on the push pin icon located right under the channel name.

Integrate Google Drive

Slack

If your office uses any G Suite products, integrating them into Slack is a must-do. This will allow your team to share, access, and create files in Google Drive directly from Slack.

Once Google Drive is integrated, files will unfurl in the chat windows instead of being displayed solely as URLs.

Make voice calls

DreamWorks/I Love You Man

Slack has built-in voice and video calling, as well as screen-sharing capabilities. To start a call, you must be in a direct message conversation with an individual or a group. From there, hit the phone icon at the top of your screen and select the type of call you'd like to have.

There's a lot to learn in order to totally master Slack, but it helps to practice on yourself

A woman looking at herself in a mirror.

If you aren't sure about sending a GIF, formatting a message, or whether a link you want to send will properly unfurl, there's a failsafe way to test it out: Just click on your name under 'Direct Messages' and type away.

Messaging yourself is also a great way to save links you want to read later, as well as messages you'd like to send later on but can't at the moment.

Either way, it's good to make your mistakes in private instead of in your boss's inbox.

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