Manage your sidebar preferences

Every workspace starts with a #general channel and a #random channel. Naturally, your workspace will add more channels to keep discussions focused on specific topics and projects. As your channel list grows, you can manage your sidebar to keep your most important conversations right where you need them.

Preferences to manage your sidebar display

 

Sort channels by priority

Your channels appear in alphabetical order by default. If you're on a paid plan, you can choose Priority sorting to sort them based on how you use Slack. Sorting channels scientifically will bump the channels most relevant to you to the top of your sidebar. Here’s how to set this preference:

  1. From your desktop, click your workspace name in the top left.
  2. From the menu, select Preferences.
  3. Select Sidebar.
  4. Under Sorting and Grouping, choose Priority.

Note: It’s not currently possible to create sub-channels or folders. When channels are listed alphabetically, you can use channel pre-fixes to help organize your sidebar.


Separate your public and private channels

  1. From your desktop, click your workspace name in the top left.
  2. Select Preferences from the menu.
  3. Select Sidebar.
  4. Under Sorting and grouping, check the box next to List private channels separately.

Tip: If you're on the Enterprise Grid plan, you can choose List organization channels separately to display public org-wide channels in the sidebar. Please note that private org-wide channels will still be grouped under the Channels category.


Hide conversations with no unread activity

Instead of listing every channel you’ve joined in your sidebar, you can choose to display only the ones with unread activity. This way, channels and direct messages will only appear in your channel list when there is a message you haven’t seen yet.

Choosing to display only unread and starred conversations will make everything feel a lot more manageable:

organized_sidebar

Here's how to hide channels and DMs that have already been read:

  1. From your desktop, click your workspace name in the top left.
  2. Next, select Preferences and choose Sidebar.
  3. Under Appearance, choose from one of these two options:

    🌟 Unreads and starred conversations
    Only your unread and any starred conversations will be visible.

    📰 Unreads only
    Only your unread channels, direct messages, and apps will be visible.

Note: With this setting, use the Quick Switcher to find channels that are hidden. To reach other channels and conversations, press ⌘+K on Mac, or Ctrl+K on Windows.

 

Tips and preferences

Here are some features you can use when your channel list starts to look crowded:

Over time, the number of channels and direct messages (DMs) you’re a part of may grow. If this happens, the list of conversations in your sidebar will become longer. There are a few ways you can manage your sidebar preferences to be more tailored to the way you work.

Tip: If your workspace is on the Standard, Plus, or Enterprise Grid plan, learn how to organize channels with custom sections in your sidebar.

 

Understanding your sidebar

At the top of your sidebar, you’ll see certain options such as Threads, Mentions & reactions, and Saved. While this part of your sidebar is fixed and cannot be customized, you can collapse and expand this list at any time. There are a few preferences available for organizing the rest of your sidebar. Keep reading to learn more.

Image of the top of the sidebar on the Slack desktop app

 

Star channels and direct messages

The Starred section in your sidebar helps you organize the conversations that are important to you, so you can easily reference them later. This section will appear in your sidebar after the first time you star a channel or DM. To learn more, visit Star channels and direct messages.

 

Manage the conversations you see

By default, Slack will display all the channels you’re a part of and the DMs you use most frequently in your sidebar. To manage the conversations you see, you can choose to show all your conversations or unread conversations only.

Free plan

Standard, Plus, and Enterprise Grid plans

On the free version of Slack, the preference you choose will apply to all of your channels and DMs. Manage the conversations you see by using the steps below.

  1. From your desktop, click your workspace name in the top left.
  2. Select Preferences.
  3. Select Sidebar.
  4. Under Show, choose either All your conversations or Unread conversations only.

On the Standard, Plus, and Enterprise Grid plans, manage the conversations you see by choosing a preference for specific sections in your sidebar. Visit Organize conversations with custom sections to learn more.

 

Sort your conversations

By default, the conversations in your sidebar appear in alphabetical order. If your workspace is on a paid plan, you can enable priority sorting to move the conversations you use most frequently to the top of your channel and DM list. Keep in mind that the conversations you see with priority sorting enabled may change over time, depending on how you’re using Slack.

Note: The preference to enable priority sorting is only available on the Standard, Plus, and Enterprise Grid plans.

  1. From your desktop, click your workspace name in the top left.
  2. Select Preferences.
  3. Select Sidebar.
  4. Under Sort all conversations, choose Alphabetically, or By priority, based on how you use Slack.