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When you have channel and message notifications flashing in Microsoft Teams, it’s hard to know which are a priority. Mark your message as Important or Urgent so your teammates know to pay attention to it.

Being able to send direct messages to people and chat with them in channels within Microsoft Teams is a double-edged sword. Sure, it’s great to be able to contact an individual or a group whenever you need to, but the downside is that everyone else can contact you, too.

This leads to a common problem: notification bloat. If you have multiple chat and channel notifications, how do you know which is a priority at a glance? And how do your teammates know when a message from you is really important, or just an update on your fantasy football team?

The answer to these questions is that you don’t. But Teams makes it easy to mark a message as either Important or Urgent with a corresponding icon so you can communicate the priority of the message.

Important messages will have a red exclamation mark.

Urgent messages will have a red bell.

Don’t use these options too often, or people will ignore them—after all, if everything you send is marked as Important or Urgent, then they’ll start to become just another message. But used sparingly, these can really help team members prioritize messages.

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As a reminder, messages to a channel can be marked as Important, messages in chat (direct messages or DMs) can be marked as Important or Urgent.

How to Mark Channel Messages as Important

Marking a channel message as important is pretty simple. After opening the Microsoft Teams application, click on the “Format” option under a new message, select the three-dot menu icon on the right-hand side, and choose “Mark As Important” from the menu.

A new channel message showing the "Mark as important" menu option.

If you have a widescreen monitor, the option will not be hidden under the three-dot icon and will be visible on the toolbar as an exclamation mark.

An “IMPORTANT!” header will be added to the message, and the left-hand border will turn red.

A new message with the "IMPORTANT!" header.

Type your message as normal and post it. It will show up in the channel with an exclamation mark on the right-hand-side.

A message marked as "Important" in a channel.

Your teammates will see a red exclamation mark next to the channel, indicating that someone has posted an important message.

How to Mark Chat Messages as Important or Urgent

Marking a message as Important or Urgent in a chat is even simpler than it is in a channel. Click on the “Set Delivery Options” option under a new message and then choose “Standard,” “Important,” or “Urgent.”

A new chat message showing the "Urgent" menu option.

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An “URGENT!” header will be added to the message, and a red banner will appear at the top of the window.

A new message with the "URGENT!" header.

Type your message and send it as normal. It will show up in the chat with a bell on the right-hand-side.

A message marked as "Urgent" in a chat.

The person you sent the message to will see a red bell next to the chat, indicating that you’ve sent them an Urgent message.

An Important message works the same way as it does for a channel message marked as “Important.” An Urgent message is similar, but with one significant difference: the recipient will get an alert message every 2 minutes for 20 minutes until they read the message.

An "Urgent" chat notification banner.

For this reason, use “Urgent” with caution as people don’t generally appreciate getting an “Urgent” notification for something which isn’t actually time-sensitive.

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If you’re using Microsoft Teams as a guest, you won’t be able to mark a message as Urgent. This option is only available for owners and members of a team.

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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