Productivity Shortcuts

7 Ways to Master Slack and Save Time


Slack has over 6 million active users — that’s double the 3 million it had in 2016 — and we expect that number to continue to grow. It’s the internal messaging service of choice for many businesses for several reasons. It cuts down the amount emails employees need to send each other, for one, and we can all do with less email. Two, it’s easy to use, especially for anyone who grew up with AIM. And three, it’s powerful and versatile. You can set up group chats, create channels for specific discussions, share files between coworkers and integrate other services you already use, like Google Drive or Dropbox.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re already using Slack — but you could be using it more efficiently. These simple tricks and tips are meant to help you do just. And if you’d like to dive even deeper, I suggest looking into more Slack shortcuts (here) and bots (here).

Jump directly to conversations

Slack comes with a number of shortcuts, probably the most useful of which being “Quick Switcher.” This shortcut allows you to jump directly between various conversations and channels; all you have to do is hit (Command + K on your Mac, or Control + K on your Windows 10 device), type in the name of the conversation or channel you want to jump to, and then hit Enter/Return. The easy shortcut will eliminate all the time you spend scrolling through your feed looking for somebody’s name or a specific channel.

(Note: Just make sure in your Slack’s Settings, and in the “Sidebar” tab, that the “Show the Quick Switcher” box is checked.)

Read a message, but keep it marked as unread

A lot of times I’ll read an email, but keep it marked as unread so that it stays at the top of my feed. This way I can remember to revisit it later. Slack has a similar feature. To mark a message as unread simply hold the Alt/Option key and click on the message. You’ll immediately see the unread notification icon return. If you’re using the Slack mobile app, pressing and holding a message will trigger a dropdown menu where you can mark as unread.

Mark all messages as read

If you’re like me, you’re in a lot of Slack Channels that have a lot of activity, but you don’t necessarily need to catch up on all the unread messages. If you want to mark all messages as “read,” simply hold Shift + Escape and a window will ask you if you’re sure that you want to clear all messages and notifications. Remember, once you click “Yes, clear all!” there’s no going back.

Adjust the way you receive notifications

Slack notifications can be distracting, especially when you’re receiving a lot of them. You can manage the way you receive these notifications by going into Settings, clicking the Notifications sidebar and adjusting the “Notify me about…” section. You can receive notifications for every message or only when you’re tagged, or you can shut off notifications entirely.

Save space in your conversation or channel

When you paste a hyperlink or add an image in a conversation or channel, it can take up a lot of real estate. This can distract you from other important messages (or just annoy you) simply because it takes up so much space. One simple fix is to send “/collapse” in the message box. All the images, GIFs and expanded hyperlink pages will shrink to a single line. You can expand them back, if you want, by sending “/expand” in the same message box.

Set up Slack reminders

Slack lets you set personal reminders for yourself and others. It can be a handy feature if you need to remind Frank to “give you an answer by 5pm” or remind yourself to “get coffee at 3pm.” To set up a reminder, just go to the appropriate channel, conversation or Slackbot and type in “/remind @person to give me an answer by 5pm today.” (You can also set a reminder for an entire #channel.) Once 5pm comes around Slackbot will remind that person of your request.

Forward emails to Slack

One of the main advantages of Slack is it helps you look at less email — but sometimes you need both to intersect. Fortunately, Slack lets you forward emails directly to yourself and various Slack channels. Forwarding emails to yourself in Slack requires some setup. Go to “Preferences,” the “Messages & Media,” and then “Get a Forwarding Address.” Click “Copy,” which will save the address to your clipboard, and then paste that address in a forwarding email address.

Forwarding emails to a specific channel requires a more in-depth setup process. You need to visit Slack’s App Directory and you then search for “Email.” You then pick the channel that you want to forward emails to and Slack will generate an email address that will direct emails to that Slack channel. I suggest pasting the generated email address in “Topic” section of the channel so that other people can forward emails to the channel as well.

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