Welcome to Digital Homesteading.
This collection of resources from 9 Clouds helps you build your business and community.
Slacking has never been so fun.
No, I’m not talking about procrastinating on your tasks or pranking your coworkers by giving them too much tuna while you should be working (although we hear that’s fun, too. Not that we would know).
I’m talking about Slack, the hot messaging app that somehow makes work communication fun. Seriously — here at 9 Clouds, we take way too much joy in our Slack conversations. Let’s just say we understand why it was named Slack in the first place.
Since we’ve been using the service for well over a year now, we’ve become pretty fluent in the language of Slack. If you’re new to the app — or if you just want to learn some new tricks you can use to, say, prank your coworkers — you might find the following Slack hacks useful (or at least entertaining).
Here are the top 14 ways we love to use Slack.
1. Lighten the Mood with /Giphy
A GIF says a thousand words. When you’re not sure how to respond to someone’s message on Slack — or when only a short, funny video will do — say it with a GIF.
Without a doubt, one of our favorite Slack features at 9 Clouds is the Giphy integration. Once you install the Giphy app, simply type /giphy [phrase you want a GIF for] + Enter, and Slack will automatically generate a relevant GIF for all your colleagues to enjoy.
Well, “relevant” might be the wrong word. You never know what you might get when you Giphy; in fact, some are very NSFW. (Or, as our team likes to say, “HR red.”)
But if you’re willing to take a chance, Giphy can be a fun way to add humor to any Slack chat. For example:
2. Create Your Own Custom Emoji
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was an emoji for every situation? On Slack, there is.
To create custom emojis on Slack, visit this page. Then, simply name your emoji, and upload the image you’d like to share with your team (square files work best). You’ll be able to find your custom emoji in the “Custom” tab in the emoji menu on Slack.
Your custom emoji options are endless. At 9 Clouds, we have emojis honoring feminism, all our dogs, Jerry from Parks and Recreation, and even Watermelon Cat. Have fun with it!
3. Set Reminders to Do Stuff
Okay, so here’s a more practical one: you can create your own to-do lists within Slack by setting up Slackbot reminders.
To remind yourself (or someone else) to do something at a certain time, type /remind [yourself, a coworker, or #channel] + [whatever you want to remember] + [when you want to be reminded about it] + Enter, and Slackbot (Slack’s auto-responding robot) will take note. Only you will be able to see the reminder, so don’t worry — no one else will find out how forgetful you are.
You can review your list of reminders by typing /remind list + Enter. From there, you can either complete or delete your tasks as needed.
4. Search Like a Pro
If you aren’t using Slack’s advanced search features, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful aspects of Slack.
To quickly find a message or file, navigate to the search bar in the top-right corner (or type Command + F). Along with the word or phrase you’re looking for, type in:, from:, has:, before:, after:, on:, or during: to narrow your search to a specific channel, person, or time. Slack will also offer advanced search recommendations as you start typing.
For more tips on searching in Slack, check out this resource.
5. Speed Things Up with Quick Commands
If you haven’t figured this out by now, Slack makes it super easy to complete tasks. It’s literally the touch of a button.
In addition to /giphy and /remind, here are a few of Slack’s most helpful quick commands:
- /away: Toggle your “away” status.
- /dm: Send a direct message to someone on your team.
- /collapse: Collapse all GIFs, images, and files in a channel.
- /expand: Expand all GIFs, images, and files in a channel.
- /mute: Mute all messages in a channel.
- /open: Open or join another channel.
- /pref: Open the preferences menu.
- /shortcuts: Open the keyboard shortcuts menu.
- /shrug: Send a “shruggie” to your team: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
To see the full list of Slack quick commands, just hit / in the message field, and all the command options will pop up.
6. Set Automatic Responses via Slackbot
Slackbot says snarky things on its own, but you can make it even snarkier by setting up automatic responses.
To create your custom Slackbot responses, click here. From that page, hit the + Add new response button, and fill out the message you’d like Slackbot to send when certain words or phrases are typed.
For example: our brofounder, Scott Meyer, can never seem to remember where we keep our list of free stock image websites. Because we love him, we set up the following Slackbot response to send anytime someone says “stock image sites”:
7. Go Undercover as a Fake User
Okay, confession time: I didn’t know about this one until I started researching this post. But it’s so cool, I have to share.
With the Slacker tool, you can pose as your favorite celebrity or character and send messages as them. There are over 20 characters built in (like Kanye West, Princess Leia, and even God) — but you can create your own characters too. Once you’ve installed Slacker, simply select the green + icon, and add your desired name, image URL, and default message.
Now excuse me for a minute while I dream of all the possibilities this sassy little feature has to offer. . . .
8. Format Your Messages
All right, I’m back — and with another awesome Slack hack to share!
Sprinkle some spice into your messages by adding formatting to your text. You can italicize, bold, and more by typing the following simple codes around a chunk of text in the message field:
- _[text]_: Italicize your text with underscores.
- *[text]*: Bold your text with asterisks.
- ~[text]~: Strike through your text with tildes.
- >[line of text]: Add an angle bracket to one paragraph (for indents and block quotes).
- >>>[lines of text]: Add an angle bracket to multiple paragraphs (for indents and block quotes).
- Option + 8 (for Mac) or Alt + 0149 (for PC): Add a bullet point.
Note that your typical keyboard shortcuts (like Command + B for bolded text) won’t work on Slack. For more Slack formatting tips, read this article.
9. Make a Pretty Theme
Slack comes with a nice purple-and-green color scheme, but not everyone wants their messaging app to look like Barney. (I, personally, would prefer that nothing ever looked like Barney. Including Barney.)
To choose a new color scheme on Slack, select your name in the top-left corner, and tap Preferences > Sidebar Theme. There, you can choose from Slack’s pre-made themes, or you can create your own (and even share it with others, if you so desire).
For example, here’s the new sidebar theme I created for spring:
10. Star Important Messages
Another handy little Slack feature is the ability to star messages. Simply hover over any message or file, and you’ll see a gray-outlined star appear next to the time stamp. Click the star to turn it yellow.
To see all messages you’ve starred, click the star icon in the top-right corner of Slack. You can use these starred messages and files as a kind of to-do list or resource library for easy access to the things you don’t want to forget.
11. Customize Your Loading Screen
Slackbot is pre-programmed to serve up cheeky phrases and helpful tips when it’s loading. But you can come up with your own messages if you want.
To customize your loading messages, visit this page, and type in the text you want to be displayed when Slack is loading.
This can be an excellent opportunity to troll your coworkers, but beware — everyone will see your message (and know it’s you who set it up). To be safe, you can always say something inspirational or highlight your company motto, like we did:
12. Integrate Google Drive and Google Calendar
One of the most useful Slack hacks we’ve found is the seamless integration with Google Drive and Google Calendar.
If your team uses Google Drive as much as we do, you need to connect it with your Slack channel. You’ll be able to read and index imported files, plus search for them with ease.
You should also add the Google Calendar integration. This will allow you to set up event reminders for specific channels.
For a full list of Slack integrations that can make your Slacking experience as easy as possible, check out the Slack app directory here.
13. Edit Your Notifications
Unsurprisingly, you can customize your notification settings in Slack. Just click your name in the top-left corner, and select Preferences > Notifications. From there, decide what notifications you’d like to receive, what sounds you’d like them to make, and what you’d like them to look like. You can also snooze notifications altogether by activating the “Do Not Disturb” feature.
But you can edit your notifications in other ways too. For instance, you can opt to be notified when certain words or phrases are mentioned. In the “Highlight Words” section in the Notifications menu, enter the words or phrases you’re interested in, and Slack will notify you whenever someone says them. This hack is perfect for keeping tabs on the projects or tasks you’re involved in.
You can also choose what kind of notifications you’d like to receive (desktop, mobile, or email). You can even mute notifications for certain channels. For more options, configure your Slack notification settings here.
14. React with Emojis
The last — but certainly not least — Slack tip we’d like to share is the ability to react to messages with emojis. (You probably already knew this one, but we use it so much, it can’t go without saying.)
Simply hover over a comment, click the emoji icon on the right, and search for the one you want. If someone else gets there first, you can voice your agreement by clicking on their emoji reaction.
Happy about someone’s happy hour suggestion? Cheers them with a beers emoji. Feeling sarcastic? Give someone’s status update a COOL emoji. (I get COOL-ed a lot.)
You can get very creative with your emoji reactions. HubSpot suggests using them to take an office poll: have colleagues respond to a message with a certain emoji to cast their vote. This is a great place to air out those custom emojis you created, too.
No matter what, emoji reactions should always be used lightheartedly. Like many of Slack’s other features, they’re there for fun!
Want More Fun Productivity Tips?
Slack hacks aren’t the only pro tips we love to share.
We’re all about business productivity (and business fun) here at 9 Clouds. To learn more ways we mix work with play, read our Guide to Business Productivity. It’s got lots of tips that will help make you a smarter — and happier — person at work.