Microsoft seems to have thought of everything when it comes to its Teams collaboration app; unfortunately, that means there’s a lot packed into a relatively simple interface. Some items are located in difficult to find places, and this includes the tagging function team owners can use to create small groups of people inside of teams for easier communication.
Tags can be created for particular projects, sub teams inside particular departments, or any other group that needs to communicate easily through a simple “at” mention in the Microsoft Teams chat window. There are a few tricks to knowing how to use tags in Microsoft Teams–once you have it down, though, it’s easy.
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To start, you’ll need to figure out if you have the ability to create tags in Microsoft Teams. For individuals or small business Microsoft Teams leaders, this is something you can set inside the Teams app. If you’re using Microsoft Teams in an enterprise, you’ll need to contact a Teams admin to make this change in the Teams Admin Center, which is a cloud-based administrator console.
Assuming you’re an individual user or are otherwise using Microsoft Teams free, go to the Teams tab and click the three dots that appear to the right of the team name you want to create a tag in (Figure A). In the menu that opens, click Manage Team.
This will open another menu–click Settings, which should be the third item from the left. In the Team Management Settings tab (Figure B), select the Choose Who Can Add Tags field, and you’ll see whether it’s restricted to team owners or members.
If you’re a team owner and you want to create tags in Microsoft Teams, you’re all set. If you want your team members to be able to create additional tags, you can toggle this option. If you’re a team member who needs to create a tag, you’ll need to ask the owner to create it or let you do so yourself (Figure C).
Now that you’re set to create a tag in Microsoft Teams it’s time to do just that. Let’s return to the menu in Figure A, where you likely saw Manage Tags at the bottom. Select Manage Tags, and you’ll see either a list of existing tags or a window prompting you to create your first tag (Figure D).
Click through and you’ll see the screen shown in Figure E, where I’ve already named my tag and added myself to it. You have to add at least one person to the tag in order to create it—if you don’t, the Create option will be greyed out.
You can add additional people to the tag now, but I encountered a problem when trying to do so. I have a couple of my email addresses set up with Microsoft Teams accounts, and both are in the test team I’ve been using to write TechRepublic tutorials. Microsoft Teams wouldn’t find my other address when I tried to add my other account as an additional member to the tag; fortunately, there’s a workaround.
To add additional people to a tag you created, return to the Manage Team window shown in Figure B, but click the first tab labeled Members (Figure F).
You can see that me, and the other me, are both in the team; and, my account that is the team owner is a member of the Important project tag, and the account that is just a member isn’t.
If you mouse over the empty space where tags would be listed next to a team member, you’ll see a tag icon appear–this is where you can add users to tags, as shown in Figure F.
Click the tag and a small window will appear with a list of tags that the person can be added to (Figure G). Check the box next to the tag(s) you want to add to that person, click Apply, and that’s it—they’re now added to the tag.
Removing people from tags is tricky, too—I couldn’t find a way to simply delete a tag outright. It’s possible to delete tags, but you have to go through each person in the tag as in Figure H and uncheck the box of the tag you want to delete. Tags can support up to 100 users in Microsoft Teams, so this could be hugely inconvenient if you want to get rid of a tag after a project is completed.
As for using tags, that’s the simplest part: Switch over to the Teams tab where you can post chat messages and discussion items. In the field for typing your message, start with an @ and then start typing the name of the tag you want to message (Figure H).
Select the tag you want, type your message, and send it. Every person who is a member of the tag will be notified, and no one else will see the message (Figure I). Mobile Teams users will also get notifications on their smartphone or tablet, so ideally there’s no way a tag member will miss an important meeting or announcement.