How to use Slack: your quick start guide

Welcome to Slack — your productivity platform. Slack transforms the way organizations communicate by bringing people together to work as one unified team. To get started, download the desktop app and check out the guide below for a quick tour.

Tip: When you're ready to learn more, see our Slack tutorials.


From the sidebar, you can access the channels you've joined, open your direct messages, view activity that might need your attention, and see a list of your saved items and reminders.

View of the sidebar in Slack

1. Home

2. DMs

3. Activity

4. Later

  Home is where you'll access your conversations, including channels. Choose the conversations you're part of by joining and leaving channels, and customize what you see in your sidebar by adjusting your preferences.
  DMs is a list of all your direct messages (DMs) that you can search and filter. Use DMs for one-off conversations that don't require an entire channel of people to weigh in, or as a way to start a   huddle with a coworker when it’s easier to talk than type.
  Activity is a single view of everything that might need your attention. See messages you’ve been mentioned in, threads you’re part of, and reactions to messages you’ve sent.
  Later is where you’ll find messages and files you’ve saved for later and reminders you’ve set. Prioritize tasks and enjoy the satisfaction of marking items as complete.

Tip: If you don't see  Later, hover over any message and click the  save icon.


Channels are fundamental to working in Slack — they bring the right people and information together in one place, and make it possible to organize work around a common purpose.

View of an example channel in Slack

5. Channel header

6. Messages & files

7. Emoji reactions

Click the channel name to see details about the channel you’re in, like the channel topic and description, and files shared in the channel. You can also start a   huddle and open the channel’s   canvas.
Channels provide a dedicated space to write messages and add files. With everything related to a particular topic, project, or team in channels, you can scroll up to see the conversation history any time you open or join one.
  Emoji reactions are a quick way to respond to any message in Slack. They're both fun and helpful for getting work done — a simple reaction can often replace the need for a follow-up message.

Message field

When working in Slack, you have a variety of options available from the message field to help you communicate and connect with your team.

View of the message field in Slack

8. Files

9. Formatting

10. Mentions

11. More actions

Double-click the   plus icon to add files so you can share important information alongside your team's discussions.
Format your messages to add a little clarity or pizzazz — bold the most important items, break out thoughts with bullet points, and more.
Use   mentions to get the attention of specific people in a conversation, whether you need to ask for feedback or follow up on action items.
From the   more actions menu, you can correct or delete a message you’ve already sent.

Search, plus, and profile

Use the search bar to find something in Slack, the plus button to create something new, and click your profile picture to manage your profile and preferences.

View of the Slack interface, including the search bar, plus button, and profile picture

12. Search bar

13. Plus button

14. Your profile

Click the search bar to search your team’s conversation history in Slack and find messages, files, channels, and people you need to get work done.
Use the   plus button to quickly create   messages,   huddles,   canvases, and   channels.
Click your profile image to set your status, pause your notifications, manage your preferences, and more.

Tip: Access all of our help and learning resources from Help. Click the   question mark icon in the top right from your desktop, or the bottom left from a browser.