I have coached more than 50,000+ professionals on using Teams effectively. One common complaint – too many Microsoft Teams notifications.
Let me show you how to minimize notifications without missing important updates. In 10 minutes, you can learn and customize notifications.
Before we go ahead, understand that Notifications are interruptions. You should control them – not the other way around. Teams notifications can be confusing, annoying, and disturbing. However, in this article, you will learn how to customize the notifications to your advantage.
- Never use email notification
- @mentions to Banner
- Switch unwanted items Off
- Most to Show only in feed
- Meeting chat Mute.
- Mobile mute if desktop active.
- Channel notification ON for pinned channels.
Notifications means interruptions
Notifications are interruptions. Firstly, you are suddenly distracted. Your concentration breaks. Due to this, the focus shifts to the interruption from the work at hand. As a result, the quality of your work suffers. Therefore, we should strive to minimize notifications.
Two types of notifications
Intrusive – a popup and / or sound. You must look and act immediately.
Of course, we must keep these to a bare minimum.
Here, we are discussing Microsoft Teams. But you can apply these principles to all types of notifications. We get too many of them and that reduces our attention span.
Non-intrusive – where notifications go and accumulate somewhere.
In this case, YOU are in control. You decide when to go and look at them.
Primer – What is a Feed?
Before we learn about notifications, we need to know what FEED means. It is also called Activity feed. In fact, it is the first button in the Teams menu.
However, the phrase Activity feed is not shown anywhere in Teams dialogs and menus.
For instance, on the left side main menu it is called Activity. But in the notification dialog it is called Feed – Show only in Feed.
Of course, it is very confusing. But now you know!
Three types of Microsoft Teams notifications
Now let us look at three types of Teams notification options:
Banner, Show only in Feed and Off.
This means a popup at the bottom right corner of the screen – similar to the new email popup. This is intrusive and disturbs your focus. Therefore, we should minimize such distractions.
Show only in Feed
Certainly, this is my favourite notification type. Because, it just puts an entry into the Activity Feed. There is no audio visual distraction. Furthermore, multiple notifications originating from different places and events will keep getting added to the Activity Feed.
So, you decide when you want to and catch up with the happenings. I do this whenever I finish one logical activity and want to have a break in between. In short, it is a good balance between no notification and intrusive distractions.
Finally, Off is the most peaceful setting. Most settings should be Off. Enable on demand – and more importantly, enable only while required.
How to customize Microsoft Teams Notifications
First – Think – What is it that is happening across Teams and is relevant and important for me to me?
What can be so important that I am allowing it to disturb me?
Customize Microsoft Teams Notifications on Desktop
The notifications dialog was completely redesigned around November 2020. Therefore, I had to update this article to incorporate the changes. However, if you still have the older UI, read here
Just click on your profile picture on top right corner, choose Settings – Notifications.
I must say that it is a very confusing dialog. But stay with me. We will customize it quickly. Follow the numbers.
1. Email notifications off
Since we are trying to avoid using email for teamwork and using Teams instead, Email notification is almost never required. As a result, if you enable email notifications for events occurring in Teams, you are going to receive more mails.
In short, it defeats the purpose of using Teams.
Nevertheless, if you do have a genuine use case for enabling email notifications, do let me know. In spite of trying very hard, I have not been able to come up with a genuine use case for this.
2. Appearance and Sound
Keep both ON.
If you are used to audio notifications, keep the Play sound option on. For example, if you use a lot of social media and are habituated to the frequent beeps and vibrations, this may not be too much of a distraction for you.
If sound distracts you, keep it off. Don’t worry about what will happen if I miss hearing a notification.
3. Teams and channels
The first two options are irrelevant (shown with red crosses). Ignore them. Click on Custom directly.
@mention – banner and feed
Personal mentions are important. Someone used the @mention to call out your name specifically. It could be some information or action specific to you. Therefore, it is important to know about it. Keep it as Banner and Feed.
Why? Banner is visible for few seconds and sound beep is half a second. Suppose you did not see or hear it? No worries. It is still going to be shown in the Activity feed. with the @ symbol.
Team mentions and replies in feed
If someone calls out something for the entire team it is not so important. Same way, if someone replies to what you have posted, it is fine. You can see it later. Therefore, both go to the activity feed – without disturbing you.
All others OFF
Replies to replies, likes, trending is not at all important. So keep them off. Minimize distractions.
4. Chat Notifications
@mentions should be banner and feed. Other two off. If you want a WhatsApp like experience, keep replies ON but soon you will get annoyed and want to mute it!
5. Meeting Notifications
With so many meetings happening, you are likely to miss some meetings. However, this notification will help you. Keep it on – Banner. There is no feed option because seeing that the meeting started in retrospect is irrelevant.
Meeting chat notification is extremely annoying – especially if you are presenting and others are chatting / posting questions. Keep it Off.
6. People status change notification
Add one or more persons. You will be notified when their status changes. Most common use of this is to find when the boss is free. Don’t keep it on all the time. Turn Off removes the entry altogether!
7. New team member notification (Other)
Disable this unless you are really interested in knowing about new members joining immediately. For instance, when you are responsible for new member onboarding.
Customize Microsoft Teams notifications – Old UI
If you have the older Teams desktop app version use this section.
Recommended settings for old UI
Click your profile picture on top right corner – Settings – Notifications.
It is a long and confusing list. Don’t worry. Follow along …
The default settings are not useful. In other words, you must choose what you really need one by one. This is a one-time effort and well worth it.
Enable Banner only for important things. The most common is for @mentions. If someone mentions your name, they want some inputs from you. Therefore, it makes sense to get a notification for personal mention.
Keep chat notification Off. Not worth following every reply and response.
Less important but needed for keeping up with what is happening are best kept in the activity feed. Choose Show only in feed.
Read each type of notification and choose the option based upon your needs.
Suggested, least intrusive Teams Notification settings.
Never use Banner and Email
Banner and Email is almost never required. We do not want to drown in email while working on team projects. Therefore, if you enable email notifications for events occurring in Teams, we are back to square one!
However, if you do have a genuine need for enabling email notifications, do let me know. I would certainly want to understand the business scenario.
Microsoft Teams Notifications on mobile app
Teams Notifications are active only when you are not using Teams on the desktop. This is a good thing. That way you do not get the same notification on both devices – which is extremely annoying. Go to burger menu (three parallel lines) – Notifications and make sure the setting in Mobile Teams app is Only when inactive on desktop.
The settings are different on the mobile. Here is a recommended list of settings. Customize as required.
You may be a part of many teams. Each team has many channels. You will be actively involved in few specific channels. Pin them. Click on the … next to channel name and choose Pin.
Pinned channels are important to you – therefore, you need special notifications for activity in these channels.
Click … next to the channel and choose Channel Notifications. Decide what you want and choose the notification type.
Meeting Chat Notifications: OFF
During a meeting or online presentation / event lot of chat can happen. If meeting chat notification is ON, it can be extremely disturbing. Shut it off.
This option is right at the bottom of the notification dialog and you may miss it. Scroll all the way down and set it to Off.
How often should you check Teams Activity Feed
As often as you go to Inbox. In other words, frequently! Whenever there is an urge to check if new mails have arrived, go to Teams first, then go to Inbox. You will get into the habit in a few days.
Manage intrusive notifications
We have minimized Banner type of intrusive notifications. But still, there will be some such notifications coming your way. The danger is that you get distracted, handle the notification and never come back to what you were originally doing.
To avoid that from happening, look at the notification, think if it requires some action. If that action requires any more than few minutes, go to the notification and SAVE the message – three dots – save.
This is like your short-term task list. Saved messages are visible when you open the menu by clicking on your Profile Picture.
Finish the work at hand. Then go and handle the saved, urgent action. Try it few times, it becomes second nature.
Learn more about Teams
Here are some more articles I have written about Teams usage.
- Dark Mode – reduce eyestrain – Windows, Teams, Office …
- Dual monitor Teams presentations
- Teams presentation on slow internet
If you are from IT, refer to Teams Policies and Governance. As of now, there is no way to customize Teams Notifications using Policy. Notifications is personal preference and therefore, users are at liberty to decide the settings convenient to them.
Even though Teams Notifications can be annoying and confusing, with little bit of one-time effort and common sense, you can customize them to your advantage.
Customize on desktop and mobile. Try it for a few days. After that, do let me know if it worked for you. Did it reduce distractions?
Also, feel free to post your queries or challenges? I usually respond in 48 hours. That’s it for now. See you soon.