Within Microsoft Teams there is a Chat feature, which allows you to use the same core tools (text conversations, file collaboration and video calling) but within individuals or small groups, outside of your Teams. This means you can use these tools with individuals without having to set up a Team. This would be useful for:
- Having an individual/small group tutorial with students
- Having an individual/small group discussion with selected colleagues, away from a main Team area
If you wish to video call someone using the Chat feature, it is always better to schedule a call with someone first. For example arrange a time via email, or even send a text chat message first to check they are free.
Where to find the Chat feature
Chat is listed in the main Microsoft Teams menu, on the left-hand side (desktop) or bottom of the screen (mobile)
How to use the Chat feature
Once you open Chat, you will see a list of previous chats you have had. To start a new chat with someone new, simply click the Pencil icon at the top of the screen (Desktop and Mobile)
You can then type in the users name. You can add multiple users if required for a group chat.
You can then:
- Write a message in the Type new message box. This will only be seen by the recipients you entered.
- Share a file, either as an attachment in a post, or by adding it to the Files area.
- Click the video call button (top right for Desktop and Mobile users) to call the person. If they have Teams installed, their device will ring and notify them of a call.
The functionality of these three tools is fairly similar to how they work in a Team. Please note:
- You can record Chat calls in the same way as a Team meeting. The recording will be saved on Stream and made available to all users who were invited to the call (users who were invited and do not attend/pick up will get access to recording).
- Calling someone using the video call feature will ‘ring’ their device (which is more overt than starting a Team video meeting)
- As with Team areas, we would not recommend sharing sensitive documents. It is possible, for example, for either user in a private chat to add another user into the same chat, and therefore expose any files shared.
Is my Chat history saved?
Yes – once you start a chat, a record of the text conversations you have is stored and will be displayed next time you access Chat. You cannot record video calls using the Chat feature if you only have 2 users in a chat call. Any files you have shared via the text chat will be saved in a specific Files area just for you and your recipient.
Once you’ve started a Chat with someone, you can add them to your Favourites list, which makes it easier to find them when you have lots of Chats going on! Just click the 3 dots next to their name and ‘add to favourite contacts’ (Desktop only)
You can also create Contact Groups, which allows you to create a small, named group. Again you may need to consider here if Chat is the correct tool, or whether creating a Team would be more appropriate.
- Chat groups are much more basic, and best suited to small conversations and 1:1.
- Teams areas offer much more functionality.
Create a contact group by clicking the Contacts tab in Chat, then clicking Create a New Contact Group at the bottom of the page (Desktop only)
Note the maximum size of a Chat group is 100, although we would say ideally Chat groups would have no more than 10 people in them!