How to use Slack: your quick start guide

Welcome to Slack, your productivity platform. Slack transforms the way that organisations communicate by bringing people together to work as one unified team. To get started, download the desktop app and take a look at the guide below for a quick tour.

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

Heads up: Some of the features that we talk about here require a paid subscription. If you like, read about limitations on the free version of Slack or consider upgrading your workspace.


From the sidebar, you can access the channels that 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 that you’re part of by joining and leaving channels, and keep them organised with custom sections. Organising conversations in the Slack sidebar into customised sections
  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 colleague when it’s easier to talk than type.
  Activity is a single view of everything that might need your attention. See messages that you’ve been mentioned in, threads that you’re part of and reactions to messages that you’ve sent.
  Later is where you’ll find messages and files that you’ve saved for later and reminders that you’ve set. Prioritise tasks and enjoy the satisfaction of marking items as complete.

Tip: Tailor what you see in your sidebar by adjusting your preferences whenever you need to.


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

View of an example channel in Slack

5. Channel header

6. Messages and files

7. Emoji reactions

Click the channel name to see details about the channel that you’re in, like the channel topic and description, and files shared in the channel. You can also open the   canvas and start a group   huddle to meet with your teammates over a voice or video call.
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 or jump to a date to see the conversation history any time you visit a channel. Navigating to the very beginning of a Slack conversation
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.
Mention specific people in a conversation to get their attention, whether you need to ask for feedback or follow up on action items. You can also create user groups to notify groups of people at once rather than mentioning each person individually. Mentioning a user group in a Slack message that includes three people from the design team
From the   more actions menu, you can correct or delete a message that you’ve already sent.

Search, create 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. Create

14. Your profile

Click on the   search bar to search your team’s conversation history in Slack and find the messages, files, channels and people that 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.

And even more

Click on   More for even more ways to use Slack. Automate tasks, create and share content, and work with people outside your organisation.

View of the Slack interface, including the automations, canvases and external connections

15. Automations

16. Canvases

17. External connections

Click on   Automations to create and find workflows and apps that automate routine tasks and connect with other software that you use. Try using a workflow template to collect ideas from your team, or connect your calendar to see and edit your schedule without leaving Slack. Navigating the Slack interface to create an automation using a template
Select   Canvases to find and create canvases for anything that you’re working on. Try using a canvas template to write and share a product brief, meeting agenda and more. Navigating the Slack interface to create a canvas, add content to it and then share the canvas in a channel
Click on   External connections to invite people from other organisations, such as your clients, vendors and partners, to work with you in Slack. Navigating the Slack interface to collaborate with people from outside your company in a channel

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.