How to use Slack: your quick start guide

Welcome to Slack — a channel-based messaging platform. To help you get started, check out the video below for a quick tour, then read on for more details. 

Tip: When you're ready for more, see our Slack 101 and video tutorials.

The sidebar

From the sidebar, you can access your conversations in Slack. You'll see a list of channels you've joined and your direct messages, notifications for specific conversations, and the option to compose new messages. 

List of channels, direct messages, and notifications in the left sidebar of Slack


Direct messages



In Slack, work comes together in dedicated spaces called channels. Channels bring the right people and information together for any project, topic, or team. Unlike email, discussions in channels are focused around specific topics, so you can join and leave them as needed.

Direct messages (DMs) allow for focused, one-off conversations that don't require an entire channel to weigh in. Use DMs for ad-hoc messages or tasks, like asking your manager a question, or coordinating a call with a teammate.

Notifications in Slack are different from email or other tools you may be used to — they’re designed to make it clear where you’re needed by showing you a badge if a teammate mentions you. When there's new activity, conversation names appear bold in the sidebar.

You can use the compose button to write and send a message to any conversation. Messages automatically save as drafts in the Drafts section of your sidebar until you’re ready to send them.


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.

A conversation in a Slack channel

Channel header

Messages & files

Emoji reactions

The channel header gives you an at-a-glance view of the channel you’re in. See how many people are in the channel, the current channel topic, and other channel details.

Channels provide a dedicated space to write messages and add files. With everything related to a particular topic, project, or team in dedicated 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.

The message field

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

A message written in the Slack message field





Format your messages to add a little clarity or pizzazz — bold the most important items, break out thoughts with bullets, 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.

Add files to your messages to share important information alongside your team's discussions.

Unlike email, you can correct typos or mistakes after you send a message. You can also delete a message you’ve already sent if you need to start over.

How to get help

Click the  question mark to the right of the search bar to access the help menu and find additional resources in our Help Center.