The Slack Logo.

Slack is a popular communication service primarily used in workplace environments. The defaults are sensible, and it looks pretty. However, you can personalize your Slack account, so it looks and acts the way you want it to.

Add a Photo or Avatar

Being able to see what someone looks like is very useful, especially for remote teams. You can add a photo or avatar to help people get to know you.

To add a picture (if you’re using a company workspace, make sure to follow your company’s guidelines), click the arrow next to the workspace name to open the main menu, and then select the “Profile & Account” option.

You then see your profile on the right side of the workspace. To change information about yourself that other users can see, click “Edit Profile.”

Click “Upload an Image.”

In the dialog that opens, double-click the photo or avatar you want to use. In the panel that opens, move the dotted lines to crop the image appropriately, and then click “Save.”

To save the image, click “Save Changes.”

Your image now appears next to your name when you message a channel or co-worker.

Choose a Notification Sound

If you use Slack on a mobile device, you can choose the notification sound Slack uses. To do this, open the mobile app, tap the three dots in the top right corner, and then tap “Settings.”

Tap "Settings."

In the “Notifications” section, tap “Settings.” Alternatively, you can also tap “Notifications” to enter its menu.

Tap "Settings."

Now, tap “Sound.”

Tap "Sound."

Choose the notification sound you want, and then tap “Save.”

Choose the notification sound you want, and then tap "Save."

Change Your Time Zone

For new accounts, Slack automatically tries to figure out which time zone you’re in from the device you’re using. For older accounts—or if Slack can’t figure it out—your account defaults to Pacific Time.

If the time zone is incorrect, your Do Not Disturb and Notification settings (which we’ll cover below) won’t work correctly.

To check which time zone Slack is using or change it, click the arrow next to the workspace name to open the main menu, and then click “Preferences.”

Click “Language & Region” to check which time zone Slack is using. If it’s incorrect, click the dropdown arrow and select the correct time zone.

If “Set Time Zone Automatically” is selected, you have to deselect to change the time zone. There isn’t a “Save” button here—any changes you make will save automatically.

Set “Do Not Disturb” Hours

After you set up your time zone, you can choose “Do Not Disturb” hours. When this feature is enabled, Slack won’t send any notifications to your devices. In the “Preferences” menu, click “Notifications.”

Scroll down to the “Do Not Disturb” section. Make sure the “Automatically Disable Notifications From” checkbox is selected. Click each dropdown arrow and select the start and end time of your preferred “Do Not Disturb” period.

Now, you’ll only get notifications on your device outside of these hours.

Choose Modes, Themes, or Unique Colors

On Slack, you can select a light or dark mode (we’re big fans of dark mode). If neither quite hits the spot, though, you can also change to a different color palette or select the color for each element in the UI individually.

So, go ahead and make Slack whatever color you want!

Set Up Your Activity Feed

One of the great things about Slack is how easy it is to react to a message with an emoji. Unfortunately, you have to check all the messages you’ve posted to see if anyone reacted with an emoji.

To solve this problem, Slack provides an activity feed that shows you any reactions to your messages, along with any mentions. To see this, click the “@” (ampersand) symbol at the top right of the workspace.

This panel shows reactions and mentions. If you want to change what the activity feed shows, click the View Options button.

In the “Activity View Options” panel, select the checkboxes next to the activities you want to see in the activity feed, and then click the “X” button to close the options menu.

The activity feed will now show the activities you selected.

Add Your Favorite Emojis

The default set of emojis in Slack is pretty good, but, of course, there are emojis available that are specific to your team or geographical area.

If you’re a member or an admin (guests don’t have this ability), you can add your own emojis to Slack. To do so, just fire up your favorite search engine or graphics program and find or create the emojis you and your team need.

Set Your Status

One of the benefits of Slack is you can see when people are away, working remotely, on annual leave, or any other status. A person’s status appears next to her username whenever she posts a message, and in the sidebar, if you’ve direct messaged that person recently.

The "In a Meeting" status next to a person's name in the "Direct Messages" sidebar menu in Slack.

To set your status, click the arrow next to the workspace name to open the main menu, and then click “Set a Status.”

This opens the “Set a Status” panel, where you can add any emoji you like, along with a status message. Alternatively, you can select one of the pre-existing statuses from the list. Once you’ve selected the status you want, click “Save.”

Add Slack to Your Device

By default, Slack opens in the web app, but you can also access it through a client or mobile app. The client app allows you to access Slack without using a browser, and it will also alert you when you’re mentioned or have a new direct message. The mobile app alerts you in the same way and allows you to access Slack when you’re away from your computer.

To add the client app, click the arrow next to the workspace name to open the main menu, and then click “Open the Slack App.”

This opens a new tab where the app will download automatically. Click “Save File” to save the installer to your default download location.

We’re installing the Windows version, but it’s the same process on a Mac. Go to your Downloads folder and run the SlackSetup.exe file to install Slack on your client.

To add the free app to your mobile device, go to the Play Store (Android) or the App Store (for iPhone and iPad), search for “Slack,” and then install the app.

Learn All About Slack

Slack has lots of useful functionality—far more than we can cover in one article. Be sure to check out Slack’s main help page and go through its tutorials. We especially recommend the “Tips, Tricks & More” tutorials, as these will help you find features you might not otherwise know are there.

The "Tips, Tricks, & More" tutorial title page from Slack's help pages.

Profile Photo for Rob Woodgate Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He's also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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