Optimise Notifications In Microsoft Teams

Out of the box, Microsoft Teams is a noisy place for app notifications. Especially when you are a member of multiple teams it can be hard to focus. Left untouched it will drive you crazy.

Teams will notify you in two ways; e-mail and in-app notifications. Both can be equally annoying. In this article I will attempt to offer my opinion on the most optimal settings for your notifications in Microsoft Teams.

Notification settings are accessible from the Settings area in the Teams client. Click on the ellipsis (…) on the top menu bar and then select the notifications tab.

The first setting is e-mail. Left unchanged, Microsoft Teams will send you a digest e-mail of any chat message that has been sent to you that you have not read. This can be annoying, so you’re best setting that to Off and rely on your activity feed.

The next setting is the Appearance and Sound of the in-app notification. The Show Message Preview will contain the first 10 words of the conversation in the notification you receive

It is personal choice to leave this on but recommended for quick in-notification replies, which can be useful to send a very quick response back.

The next setting is Play a Sound for each notification. When received, you’ll hear an audible tone that signifies someone has sent you a chat, or the Teams incoming call ringtone if someone calls you.

The next setting is where notifications can get out of hand quickly, Teams and Channels.

Immediately, you do not want to choose All Activity. if you do, you’re letting yourself into a a notification bomb. Just don’t do it to yourself.

The second option, Mention & Replies is a medium sensitivity setting where you’ll get a notification if someone @mentions you in a chat thread, or replies to a topic you have authored within a Team.

The most granular setting is Customized where you can set your own. This is where you can really improve how Microsoft Teams notifies you for the most important notifications you need to action inline to your current work.

Before we jump into that, you’ll notice four notification options:

  1. Banner – If selected will pop the notification banner over your active window to let you know of an activity
  2. Only Show In Feed – Does not pop the banner, but adds the interaction to your activity feed
  3. Banner and Feed – Does both
  4. Off – Does not notify you in any way and you must choose to go looking.

Chat Notifications

The first notification group is controlling how Teams notifies you for incoming chats. This includes personal chats and team based chats.

For @mentions, these will typically only occur in group based chat. It is more than likely the person who @mentioned you does not expect an immediate response, but would like to draw your attention to the conversation and seek your input. As a result, you don’t need to have a banner popup for every mention, but you do need to action it.

Therefore, the most appropriate setting is “Only Show In Feed”

The next is for messages or personal chats. These direct approaches often require more immediate treatment. Furthermore, any unread personal chats show in the chat app of Teams in bold making it easy to keep track of your unread messages.

Therefore, you don’t need to show these messages in your activity feed, but a notification would be handy for you to action immediately if you are able. Set this to “Banner”.

The last notification setting is reactions. Reactions are when someone tags your message with an emoticon signifying their acceptance or objection. This is for sentiment and emotional context and not worth a notification or entry into your activity feed. Set this to “Off”.

Meeting and Calling Notifications

This notification has only one setting that applies to meeting chat. Meeting chat can be a very busy place during a meeting and can distract you from the content being shared within it. For large meetings, chat should be moderated or be addressed at the end of the presentation. You can choose to reduce the app notification noise by choosing to Mute, Mute until you join or send a chat or Unmute to receive all notifications.

A personal choice of mine is to set this to Mute. The reason is that when I am joined in the meeting I am aware of the chat messages happening and do not need to be notified. Furthermore, when chat continues after the meeting has ended, most will be of little importance to me and will show up in my Chat messages in bold as unread. I can then choose to read if and when I want to.

Other Notifications

Teams can also notify you when someone you know has joined a team you are in. Teams finds this out by looking at your contacts list. The default option is to send you a notification and entry into your activity feed. However, this is of little value to you, so I recommend you turn this Off.

People Notifications

This is a different notification method in that it allows you to be notified when a person you choose to monitor has changed to available presence. This can be handy to add your manager or immediate coworkers that you communicate frequently with.

By using notifications in a smart way you can declutter your activity feed to important information that you can work through in a manageable format as well as limiting distraction to your day to day tasks.

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