How To Use Slack: The Complete Guide

Slack has become one of the most popular collaboration and communication tools for teams and organizations of all sizes. Launched in 2014, Slack aims to replace the chaos of overflowing email inboxes with organized conversations across devices, teams and time zones. With over 12 million daily active users, Slack has transformed how modern teams get work done.

This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to effectively use Slack, boost your productivity, and take your team collaboration to the next level.

A Brief History of Slack

Slack was founded in 2013 by Stewart Butterfield along with his team behind the now-defunct game Glitch. Slack officially launched in 2014 and saw rapid user growth, reaching over 500,000 daily active users by the first year.

Key milestones in Slack‘s growth include:

  • 2015: Slack raises $160 million in funding, launches Slack apps and becomes fastest startup to reach $2 billion valuation
  • 2016: Slack integrates with popular apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, Twitter, IBM Watson and has over 3 million daily active users
  • 2017: Slack unveils Enterprise Grid plan for large businesses and teams, integrates bots and customizations
  • 2019: Goes beyond 10 million daily active users, enhances security, compliance capabilities
  • 2020: Hits 12 million daily active users during remote work surge amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Backed by leading investors like Accel and Andreessen Horowitz, Slack went public in June 2019 at a $23 billion valuation and continues to define the future of work.

What is Slack and How Does it Work?

Slack brings team communication and collaboration into one place. At its core, it is a chat app for teams with capabilities including:

Channels: Organize conversations by topics, projects in public/private channels

Direct Messages: Direct 1:1 or group communication with teammates

Integrations: Bring in work apps like Google Drive, Trello, Asana seamlessly

Bots: Automate tasks like reporting, project updates and more

File Sharing: Send files, documents easily across Slack

Video Calls: Host voice, video conference calls via Slack

With customizable notifications, smooth cross-device syncing, archiving capabilities and enterprise-grade security, Slack aims to be the hub for teamwork.

Slack Desktop App View

Creating a Slack Account

Signing up for a new Slack account is simple and completely free. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to and click on the "Try for Free" button
  2. Enter your work email address and create a password
  3. Slack will send a confirmation email — click on the verification link
  4. Choose whether you want to create a new workspace for your team or join an existing one
  5. Set a name and url for your new workspace
    6.Invite team members by entering their work emails
  6. Download desktop and mobile apps and start using Slack!

Once your account is ready, you can explore Slack‘s intuitive user interface on desktop, web and mobile.

Key Slack Features and How to Use Them

Now that you know the basics, let‘s go over the must-know Slack features:


Channels organize conversations across different topics, projects, teams etc. Teams can have an unlimited number of public and private channels within a workspace.

Creating Channels

Click on the + icon next to Channels in the left sidebar. Enter a channel name and description. Set privacy, notification and member settings. Channels can also be created from messaging window using the /channel command

Joining Channels

Browse list of channels or use Channel browser. Public channels can be joined freely. Private channels require an invite from a channel admin.

Direct Messages

Have a 1:1 or group conversation via Direct Messages (DMs).

Starting Direct Messages

Click on the + icon next to Direct Messages. Select the members to message. Or message a member directly from the channel member list or user directory.

App Integrations

Connect your workplace apps and tools like Google Drive, Trello, GitHub etc. directly with Slack channels and messages. Enjoy in-app connectivity without switching contexts across apps.

Adding Integrations

Under your workspace settings, visit the App Directory to browse and add integrations customized for your team‘s needs.

File Sharing

Easily share files like images, documents via Slack up to 1GB limit. Paid plans get expanded limits and cloud storage.

Uploading Files

Drag-and-drop files in messaging window, channel or DM. Or use the dedicated file uploader to add title, comments.

Video Calls

Make voice or video calls with team members via Slack on desktop and mobile.

Starting Calls

Click on the phone or camera icon on top of messaging window and select call type, members and duration. Receive call notifications, schedule upcoming calls too.

Setting Reminders

Schedule reminders for yourself or assign action items to teammates that will notify on pending tasks via Slackbot.

Creating Reminders

Type "/remind" command in any message window and set name, date/time, assign members (optional). Saves all reminders for reference.

There are many more helpful Slack tricks – from organizing favorites and recent conversations to advanced formatting options. Discover them over time as you collaborate smoothly using channels, messages and apps in Slack!

Choosing the Right Slack Plan

While a free basic plan is good for smaller teams getting started, larger businesses and advanced teams should opt for one of Slack‘s paid offerings:

1. Standard ($8/user/month billed annually): More app integrations, improved search, admin controls

2. Plus ($15/user/month billed annually): Includes unlimited message history, enhanced security/compliance features

3. Enterprise Grid (pricing varies): For large businesses that need expanded controls, analytics insights and global support

Paid plans remove user limits, expand file storage, unlock valuable features and 24/7 expert support to take your Slack workflow to the next level.

Tips for Slack Success

Here are some expert tips to help you collaborate productively using Slack:

  • Customize notifications: Mute non-priority conversations and set custom alerts by keywords/senders
  • Add favorites: Star key conversations for quick access rather than endless scrolling
  • Use threads: Discuss specific topics within relevant channels, long chat threads
  • Respect others’ time: Set do-not-disturb schedules, indicate offline periods for focus
  • Search effectively: Retrieve old information by keywords, date filters, advanced syntax
  • Automate updates: Build custom integrations and bots tailored for your team needs
  • Establish etiquette: Agree on notification limits, channel purposes, emergency contact rules

Troubleshooting Slack Issues

In rare cases where Slack is down or not working as intended, first check the system status page for identified issues. For individual matters like login failures or interface glitches, contact Slack support experts via priority 24/7 chat or email. Rest assured your productivity will be back on track after the quick help!

And that‘s a wrap on effectively using Slack for all your communication and collaboration needs! From creating workspaces to establishing channel norms and troubleshooting issues, this guide covers everything you need to use Slack seamlessly. With smart integrations, notifications and search capabilities, Slack helps streamline teamwork across the board.

Stay tuned for more tips on taking your Slack skills to the next level!

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