I wrote last year two posts in this blog about Pin channels feature in Microsoft Teams. The first one was more about “what is Pin channels and how do you use it” and the second was “what if you would turn Teams to more channel oriented”. This one is more about my experiences since those two articles and how my use of Pin Channels has evolved over the time. It remains to be seen if there will a Art of Pinning Channels IV.
What is the Pin Channel feature?
In short: it allows you to pin a chosen channel above shown team list in your Teams. Just click the … menu related to the channel and choose “Pin”.
This will pin the chosen channel to the top. If you already have pinned channels there it will be the last one – on bottom of pinned channels.
You can then drag pinned channels up or down to arrange the list as you see fit.
For longer instructions check the Art of Pinning Channels I post.
In my previous blog posts I recommended the maximum to be around 10. I have noticed that I do use pin channel a lot more than that to also keep my Teams more clear and less noisy. Currently I have 14 pinned channels in use in my work Teams. Is that a lot or not? Comparing to my early recommendation it is more but Teams is everyone’s personal Hub. I know what Teams I need but also I know what teams would be an extra ballast and would only slow me down.
Why and when I pin a channel?
- I want a quick access to that channel so I can either stay up to date or share information. I also see if that channel has new messages (the name is in bold)
- I work on that channel more than usual. I need to collaborate on those files or I often find myself replying / writing new messages there. This is usually the case with active projects.
- I am part of a project, but the project or customer has a lots of going on and I am connected to it with a few touching points. Usually this ends up as specific channels. I choose not ignore the rest and only focus on those specific projects or sub-projects.
- The channel is part of a larger group of channels (different technologies, hobbies team, business area or marketing events) – I need only one or two channels out of that.
When you pin a channel it is automatically set as “shown”. You can’t hide a pinned channel in a team so you will get atChannel notifications unless you specifically set them off for that channel. I do this for less important channels (say a hobby group channel) or channels that use atChannel too much. Since the channel name will be in bold if there are new messages I can stay up to date using the visual cue. However, I don’t turn off notifications of all channels I have pinned since these notifications can be useful especially when using Mobile Teams (which I use a lot).
Very often when I pin a channel or two from a project team I hide several remaining channels. This is due to turn off atChannel notifications and hiding is easier than changing channel notifications. And in case you need that channel active later on you don’t remember to change it’s notification settings anyway.
I also use hiding and showing Teams actively – especially with channel pinning. I can pin a channel or two from a team and then hide the rest of the team. That way I can keep my active teams list more tidy and it will be quicker to glance through the list to see if there are anything new in those teams and channels I have left visible to my Teams. Of course I can access those hidden teams and channels if I feel I am missing something or if I am mentioned there (usually this one).
It is important to remember that you are in Control of your Teams. No-one else is doing that for you. You don’t have to leave teams to keep your list meaningful. I do changes to my pinned channels several times a week (depending on my focus). Sometimes projects become less important (I either drag them lower on my pinned channels list or take off pinning) and sometimes they are more in the focus (drag them higher) so they gain more attention from you. And since pinned channels are also visible in the mobile Teams –> those on top are more prominent for you in the Mobile as well.
Do I see a lots of team list when I have 14 pinned channels taking my space in Teams? No, not that much. Getting to that list requires scrolling. But this way of working suits me: I can react to my “on the top of my head” topics and yet keep the active shown list of teams shorter. Yes, I do scroll but if your list of teams is shorter – it is a quick thing to do. And by hiding non-essential channels in those shown teams -> it is every quicker. If you have too much stacked into one channel (say just using General) you can’t have this freedom to manage your Hub. That is why channels are important and need to be used.
It is your Teams. Use it.