Master Slack for work and fun!

Take Control of

Glenn Fleishman

Wrap your head around how Slack group messaging works, learn to communicate and collaborate using its many features, and discover how to use integrations and notifications to get more out of it. The book explains finding channels, starting conversations, posting messages, interacting with bots, and more! The Slack web app is covered, along with apps for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


The Slack group messaging system has become an integral part of work life (and even social life) for millions of people. It’s a feature of the modern business landscape, but how can you make the best use of this powerful, 21st-century tool to both get your job done and have fun? In this book, Glenn Fleishman addresses every major type of Slack user:

  • New user: If you’re interested in or tempted by Slack but have never used it, this book will help you get up to speed quickly.
  • Experienced user: If you use Slack already and want to get more out of it, this book will guide you to more efficient and more sophisticated use and control.
  • Reluctant user: If Slack is a requirement for your workplace, nonprofit group, or other organization, this book will help you overcome frustration and confusion.

Slack can make your work life better. This book helps you master Slack! It shows you things you’ll never learn by reading the online documentation or simply poking around, based on Glenn’s years of experience in multiple Slack teams.

Among the many questions this book answers are:

  • How do I get started using Slack, including creating my first workspace?
  • How can I manage the number (and manner) of notifications I get on my desktop and on my mobile devices?
  • Is there any way to edit the message I just posted so I can fix a mistake?
  • How do I find other channels in my Slack workspace—or make new ones?
  • How do I make audio or video calls in Slack, or use screen sharing?
  • What are the differences between direct messages and public messages in Slack?
  • How much privacy can I expect in Slack from coworkers, bosses, owners, and Slack itself?
  • How much can I do in Slack for free? What features make sense to pay for?
  • How do people find and enter emoji in messages?
  • What does it mean when names in the sidebar are bold or italic?
  • What do the numbers next to channel or conversation names indicate?
  • What exactly is Slackbot, and why is it talking to me?
  • How do I perform advanced searches to find what I need?
  • How do I find and install Slack apps?

Take Control of Slack replaces two previous titles: Take Control of Slack Basics and Take Control of Slack Admin. Although this new book borrows some elements from its predecessors, it’s a brand-new, completely rethought guide that’s up to date with the latest versions of Slack (right down to its brand-new icon!).

Glenn Fleishman

About Glenn Fleishman

Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, Fast Company, and Increment. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. He is currently building 100 tiny type museums full of real printing artifacts. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

Slack never stands still. The company believes in continuous improvement, often appearing in tiny but comprehensive ways, like changing icons throughout all the apps. This version of the book incorporates all the hundreds of minor changes in language and appearance across the several platforms on which Slack makes software available.

Slack also rolls out larger changes frequently. Just as I was working on updating this version of the book, Slack entirely changed its message text-styling approach and appearance! (See Write a Message for the full, up-to-date details!) Some other major changes in 2019 covered in this update include:

  • Multi-image and multi-file uploads make adding items to a Slack workspace simpler. See "Upload a File."
  • Slack desktop apps now use the web app to ease sign-ins. The “magic link” formerly used to aid logging in to a desktop app is now only available for mobile apps. See "Sign In to a Workspace."
  • Dark mode support was added to iOS, iPadOS, and Android apps. See "Deploy Dark Mode."
  • In paid teams, channels can be shared between two entirely separate organizations or companies, a feature formerly in beta testing. See "Find and Create Shared Channels."

Unrelated to Slack, Apple split its mobile operating system, iOS, into two nearly identical, separately named systems. iOS 13 runs on the iPhone and iPod touch; iPadOS 13 covers all iPad models that can accept updates. The book has been updated to reflect Apple’s nomenclature change, but the differences between Slack in iOS and iPadOS remain almost nonexistent.

Slack Changes Desktop Login

Posted by Glenn Fleishman on March 11, 2019

In macOS and Windows, Slack offers both native desktop apps and a robust web app that works across major browsers. The native apps have a few distinct advantages I mention in the book over using the web app. However, Slack just removed a feature from the native desktop apps, that you would think makes the desktop app worse—but, in fact, makes it better.

You can no longer log into a workspace from a native desktop app. Previously, you could click the big + at the bottom of the native desktop app’s Workspaces sidebar, and you’d be prompted within the desktop app to enter a workspace subdomain name, and proceed through a log in or generate a magic link sent via email. (The magic link is a URL that, when clicked, opens the web app, which in turn triggers the Slack native desktop app and adds the team.)

As of March 11, 2019, however, the native desktop apps no longer allow a direct login. Click the + in the Workspaces sidebar, and the Slack desktop app opens a browser window that’s related to all workspaces for which you use the same email address. From there, you can either click on any workspace listed that you’re already logged into, saving time and effort, and the web app requests opening the native desktop app, which then adds the workspace with no further effort. You can also enter the Slack subdomain in the web app’s login page, and then proceed through a normal password (and second-factor) login entry or use a magic link.

You’d think this would be a worse experience because of the round trip. However, because the web app populates the login page with all your active workspaces, it actually reduces effort—it’s better than the native desktop login approach. Now, in the future, I would hope Slack could provide that same ease within a native app, but for now it’s a weird but positive step forward.

May 16, 2020—Version 1.2 of Take Control of Slack is in preparation to cover the significant interface overhaul Slack rolled out to its desktop, web, and mobile apps between March and May 2020.


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