Now that we're spending more time indoors, we're finding new platforms – and new ways to use old platforms – to keep in touch, whether for work or with friends. This is the case with Slack, an instant messaging platform that works somewhere between email and text messages. Slack was developed for fast communication and became an important tool for many workplaces long before everyone worked from home. But you can use it for just about anything: friends, group activities, clubs, or online communities.
Slack has a free version and offers several paid plans. You start by setting up a workspace (which is your main business and contains your contact network) in Slack. In your work area, you create channels that resemble chat rooms or group chats. On these channels, you and your friends / family / team members can chat via SMS, share files, integrate with other apps like Google Docs and Office 365, and even conduct video chats (although you can do this if you use the free version just do a one-to-one video chat).
If you're new to it, Slack will take some getting used to. We have therefore put together a step-by-step guide to help you get started. Note that Slack introduces a new version. The instructions below may vary depending on whether you are using a free or paid version.
Create a new account and workspace
When you create an account, you can easily join an existing workspace if you want (if your organization, friend or colleague has one to add you to). You can also create your own workspace. Here's how.
- Go to slack.com
- Click Get Started, and then click "My team isn't using Slack yet."
- Slack asks you to confirm your email address with a code. Go to the email Slack just sent you to retrieve and enter the code.
- Choose a name for your work area. Click Next. "
- Slack prompts you to enter a name for a project you are working on. Enter it and click "Next". This will create your first Slack channel.
- On the next screen, you can enter the names and email addresses of the people you want to add to your Slack workspace, and Slack will send them invitations. You can also use an invitation link. However, if you are not yet ready to invite someone, you can skip this page (you can add more people later).
- That's it! Click on "See Your Channel in Slack".
- You are now on Slack – or at least on the Slack welcome page. Here you can take a number of measures to set up your channel. For example, you get your second chance to add people via email or share an invitation link.
- If you scroll down on the same page, you can choose a greeting. This is the message your teammates will see when they open Slack. Click "Choose Greeting" and you will get some samples (which you can edit), or you can click "Custom …" to write your own message. Click "Save" when you're done.
- Below you can enter the first message for your channel. Click Submit when you're done.
- Slack may automatically take you to the screen to set up a username and password, or take you directly to your channel. If the screen for setting a name and password does not appear, you can access it by clicking the "Get Started" button under your username on the top left of the main page and then clicking "Finish Setup". Choose a name and password and click "Next".
- Choose a name and unique URL for your workspace that other people can join. Click Finish to complete the setup and click Explore Slack to use Slack.
Join an existing workspace
To join an existing Slack workspace, you need permission from the person who owns that workspace. They usually send you an email invitation to join. However, sometimes you have other options. At some workplaces, anyone with an email address from a specific domain can join. In some cases, you can authenticate your account using your company's single sign-on program (such as G Suite or Okta).
If you have received an email invitation:
- Click "Join Now" in the email.
- Enter a new username and password. You have to do this for each workspace you join, since you actually have a different account for each workspace, even if everyone uses the same email address.
- Click on "Create Account".
Otherwise, you can join an existing workspace:
- Go to slack.com/get-started
- Click "My team is on Slack."
- Enter your email address and click "Confirm".
- Go to the email Slack just sent you and click "Confirm Email Address".
- Slack opens a window that shows which workspaces you belong to (if any) and below which you can join. Under "Join another workspace" look for the desired workspace and click on "Join" next to it.
- Enter a username and password, then click "Create Account".
- After joining, you will be directed to a welcome page where you can send a message. Enter a message and click "Send" to go to the main page. On the welcome page, you can also add a profile photo, set up notifications, download the desktop app, and connect Slack to Google Drive. You don't have to do all the steps to continue. You can access the welcome screen at any time by clicking "Get Started" under your username in the upper left.
Now you're in Slack! Any current conversation, whether it's a channel or a direct message thread, is shown on your screen. On the left side, a bar shows all the channels you are in and below that all your direct messaging conversations (in other words private conversations).
If you use Slack regularly, it may be a good idea to download the desktop app for Mac or Windows so that you can use the app separately from your online work. There are also apps for iOS and Android, so you can use Slack from your smartphone.
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