Microsoft Teams: the best thing since sliced bread! A one-stop-shop for your collaboration, your file sharing, your phone and your video conferencing. Even before the pandemic, Microsoft Teams adoption was on a sharp upward trajectory. And now, with remote work mostly the norm, it’s more critical to everyone’s workday than ever before.
In Teams’s short life, Microsoft has introduced a bevy of enhancements and features (and will continue to do so). In July 2020 alone Microsoft pushed five significant updates. To review the documentation on new features and updates, click the Help button on the bottom left corner of the Teams screen and select “What’s new”.
There is also a Training menu, which will offer you and your team tons of content to help adopt and use the tool.
More recently the Teams meeting experience has been overhauled to improve collaboration and experience.
Here’s how you get those features enabled:
Ensuring you get Teams updates
Open Teams and click the icon on the top right. It probably has your initials or your profile.
Near the bottom of the same Window is “Check for updates”. Selecting this will display a line at the top of your screen stating “We will check for updates while you continue to work.” This takes a few minutes to complete.
If you are up to date it will show as below:
The latest version as of posting this is 1.3.00.24755, which you can find by mousing over “About”, then “Version”.
Clicking on “Version” reveals a top-bar notification like so:
Next, make sure you get the new features when they come out. Click on your initials/profile picture and select Settings.
This brings up a screen of additional settings.
Turn on new meeting experiences
This is the key component to get the new features. Once you enable this, you must exit Teams and restart your computer.
To exit Teams, right click on the icon on the toolbar. Select Quit.
Then restart your computer and open Teams again.
Keep Teams running in the background or not
While you are in the Settings menu, take notice of the first listed option to “Auto-start application”. This happens whenever you log in, and is enabled by default. If you travel with your laptop a lot, you may want to turn this off to preserve battery.
NOTE: If your organization is using the Enterprise version of Microsoft Office, you may not have the new meeting experience. Your administrator may be able to enable the options.
You can read more about the new Teams meeting experience on this forum: Microsoft Tech community. If you are going to have meeting for more than five attendees, check out Together Mode.
Go to Chat on the left-side menu. On each chat, there are two icons next to the person’s name: a box with an arrow and an ellipses. Click the box with the arrow to open the chat in a new window.
You can also click the ellipses icon and a menu will appear with several actions you can use. Another feature I use a quite often is the “Notify when available” action. Mirazon is still working remotely and it’s great to be alerted when someone’s status changes to Available so you know when you can politely reach out.
Among many changes with the new Teams meeting experience, meeting controls moved to the top of the screen. Here are a few others you want to be aware of:
- The menu bar is now at the top of the screen. To get out of a meeting click Leave instead of Hang Up.
- Gallery is the default view (this is what a lot of people call the Brady Bunch view). Large Gallery view is available when more than 10 people are in a meeting.
- Once the meeting starts, you can use Together Mode. This is awesome. Everyone looks like they are sitting in stadium seating.
- Apply background effects. This provides the ability to blur the background or have a background of your choosing that shows during the call. You can import new background and they become persistent for future meetings.
- You can record any meeting you are in for later playback. An icon appears at the top of the screen to alert attendees of a live recording process.
Sharing content in Teams meetings
Click the box with the down arrow next to “Leave” to share your local resources.
Selecting “Desktop” shares that entire screen. If if you have three displays, you will have three screens to choose from to share. The rest are locked down to a specific program. You can also browse to a file and open it. PowerPoints open automatically and display.
The Microsoft Whiteboard is very useful if you are presenting from a touch display.
When you are done presenting, click the button at the top of the screen in the middle that shows “Stop Presenting” or hit the icon that is a rectangle with an X in the top.
- Video conference display was upgraded from a 2×2, to a 7×7 display ( available after you enable the new meeting experience and restart Teams.
- Meetings occur in a separate window now, so they won’t dominate your entire Teams experience.
- Search within a single channel or a chat.
Older hardware limits use of background features
If you want to use the backgrounds or blur and find you cannot do so, it may be because you have an older PC with an unsupported processor. Current generation computers have the “AVX extensions” feature. If the option to apply background effects is not in the menu, check this first:
Click Start menu and open Settings. Click System:
Then choose About on the left-hand menu:
You should see something similar to the above.
However, for me, even though my processor is an i7, it’s still not supported.
We haven’t heard of much else impacting the Teams experience, though!