How to send private messages in Slack

Sending direct messages in Slack is a great way to get input from individual members of your workspace.

How to send private messages in Slack Sending direct messages in Slack is a great way to get input from individual members of your workspace.

If Slack is your organization's or team's primary means of communication, then you need to understand how to navigate the tool. If you can't get up to speed quickly, you run the risk of getting lost in an avalanche of threads and messages. One way to help use Slack effectively is through the use of private messages. After all, there may be particular bits of information you only need certain users in your workspace to read. 

I want to show you how to send private messages to other users in your workspace. The process is the same on both the mobile app and the desktop, so I'll be demonstrating on the mobile version of Slack (on Android 10, to be exact).

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What you'll need

In order to make this happen, you'll need the Slack app (Android/iOS), a Slack account, and a workspace to which you've been assigned. With those at the ready, let's message your colleagues.

The Direct Messages window

Your Direct Messages are found in their own window. From within that window you can send and receive all messages from all users in your workspace. To access that window, open the Slack app and then open the sidebar. To open the sidebar do one of the following:

  • Swipe right from the left edge of the screen (on Android 9 or less).
  • Swipe in a downward diagonal from the left edge of the screen (on Android 10).
  • Tap the Workspace icon in the upper left corner of the screen (on all versions of Android).

From the sidebar, tap Direct Messages (Figure A).

Figure A

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The Slack sidebar.

In the Direct Messages window (Figure B), you should see all available contacts for the workspace.

Figure B

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The Direct Messages window.

Locate the user you want to send the message to. If your workspace has a plethora of users, you can always use the Search tool to quickly locate the person you intend on messaging. Once you've located the name in question, tap the user and, from the resulting window (Figure C), start typing your message.

Figure C

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The Direct Message composition window.

Once you've typed your message, tap the send button (right-pointing arrow) and your message will find its way to the recipient.

Reading messages

When you receive a direct message, you will see a listing of messages sent by all users. Any message with green dot next to their name in the sidebar, under Direct Messages (Figure D) is unread.

Figure D

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A message for you, sir.

Tap on the name associated with the new message to read their missive. You can then reply to the message by tapping the Message X (where X is the name of the user) at the bottom of the screen.Type your reply and tap the send button.

Group DMs

If your workspace allows (as workspaces can be configured to not allow group direct messages), you can select multiple users (from the user listing) by tapping all the users you want in the Group DM and then tapping Start (Figure E).

Figure E

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Creating a Group Direct Message.

If you workspace doesn't allow the sending of Group Direct Messages, you will only be able to select one entry in the user selection window. 

Deleting a message

There may arise an occasion when you need to delete a message. This isn't quite as intuitive as you might think. To delete a message, follow these steps:

  1. Open the direct message in question.
  2. Near the top of the screen, tap the drop-down arrow associated with the name of the message sender.
  3. From the resulting window, tap Close Conversation (Figure F).

Figure F

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Deleting a direct message.

And that's the gist of sending, reading, and deleting messages in Slack. It's not a challenging prospect, but it certainly is one of your best methods for communicating with individuals when you don't need the input of everyone in the workspace on an issue.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/oatawa