Tip o’ the Week 416 – Teams Slash At Apps

clip_image001There’s a perennial tension amongst productivity evangelists, about how best to do it – from which methodology to use, to which tools to fulfil their hopes & dreams. Similar behaviour occurs amongst communications czars – don’t send attachments, put them in SharePoint!; email is the devil, we should use Yammer!; this time, it’s about the world of team-based collaboration platforms, pioneered by the likes of Slack/Fleep/Flock/Zoho and inhabited by the Microsoft Teams product set too. Some companies barely use email, instead turning to persistent chat offered by these kinds of apps.

Teams is part of Office 365 (well, for business users – it’s hard to think of a scenario where you’d need Teams for home use…), and in time will subsume the Skype for Business capabilities that O365 users access today. Some businesses will still have an on-premises Skype for Business installation, which means that product isn’t going away entirely, at least not for a good few years.

clip_image003There have been a bunch of updates to Teams in recent days, signalling the largest update to the Teams software so far. See more on what’s new here.

If you press / or @ in the command line at the top of the Teams site or app, you’ll see a list of commands you can use – like /whatsnew, to see a change log of recent releases.

Using apps (installed from an app store within the Teams UI – just type @ in the command line to see the list) lets you quickly embed content from another source, into the conversation stream within your Team channel. There are already over 120 apps available, from all kinds of third party publishers – it’s worth browsing the different categories within the store, rather than just the top picks you’re initially presented with.

clip_image005Instead of taking a screenshot or just pasting a URL to a story/place/whatever… you can embed a hot-linked summary of the real content and make it easy for people to jump to it.


Tip o’ the Week #298 – Searching and finding

clip_image002Who keeps an up-to-date browser favourites list these days? Most people seem to find web sites by Binging/Googling (other search engines are available(!), though some of the pioneers are no longer around) for the site they know about, rather than in trying to keep a link that might change. This relates to the filing vs. piling analogy of document and email retention, which has been covered before (here).

[The precis is that some people find or recall things by where they are, like in a folder specific to that customer or project, whereas others might have a massive pile of unsorted stuff, but they can recover items within it by remembering key words or attributes, and searching the contents]

You’d think that by now, we’d all be experts at plugging queries into search engines, maybe even doing so before posting stupid stuff on Facebook. Hint – if anything looks dodgy or unbelievable, try searching snopes.com. Please.

Anyway, here are some tips for getting more accurate searches, in a few different places…


Did you know you can direct specific clip_image004search criteria through Outlook’s Search pane? Click on the search box at the top of a folder and you will see the Search menu appear (or the ribbon will automatically show you the Search pane, depending on how you’ve got views set up). If you click on a criterion (like From), then Outlook will build the query for you in the search box, so you can see what it’s doing.

It’s possible to jump a little though – instead of clicking From then editing, you could just type from: Paul to search for all mail sent by anyone with Paul in their name, or try using a combo of other attributes (there are many – see more here), (eg. to: Paul sent: last week). Lots more example tips here.


For many users, Yammer is a great conversational and collaboration tool, clip_image006but even if you don’t use it frequently to post content, it can be a brilliant way of searching for answers to frequently asked questions, that you might not get via email if you aren’t on the right DL.

Thing is, Yammer’s search tends to be a bit overly inclusive – if you enter several terms then you might have one or two more results than you’d expect.

clip_image008Adding quotes around phrases (“surface 4” “release date”) helps a bit, but it will still search for any occurrence of either phrase, but by adding a + sign to each word or phrase changes the search from clip_image010an OR to an AND (ie show results with all rather than any of the phrases).


If you’re looking to trim the results you get from a web search – either carried out from the Bing homepage, or from the address bar in your browser (assuming Bing is the default search engine) – there are a few operators that it’s worth remembering. Adding site:<url> to your query means you’ll only get stuff from there, so it may be quicker to use Bing to search a given site than to go to that site itself and search from within.

Eg. Try this querysite:engadget.com Lumia –iphone, will show results from the Engadget site regarding Lumia phones, that don’t mention iPhones: not too many results there. Try that same query as a web search rather than news (here), and you’ll notice a few pages in other languages. You could try filtering more by language (here). You can also stack site: clauses with an OR (must be capitals) operator, so you could say “Jenson Button” (site:bbc.co.uk OR site:pistonheads.com).

If you’re after particular types of content, you might want to throw the filetype: operator in, eg Azure filetype:pptx site:microsot.com. For more details on the kinds of operators Bing supports, see here.

Google users can find some search tips here, too.