How to Get the Most Out of Slash Commands in Slack

Slack is the uncontested ruler in team communication. According to the company itself, the platform has around 12 million daily active users and 6 million paid seats. The reason for that popularity lies in that you can use it to collaborate with teams while at your desk, on the go, or anywhere in between. And with a host of features available, the tool enables you to do more than just chat.

That’s right, Slack includes a number of collaborative features that make it a must-have for so many teams. One such feature is the slash command. With the help of the slash command, you have a number of incredibly helpful tools right at your fingertips.

But what is a slash command? It’s a command you run, in any text area found in the Slack interface. These commands make interacting with Slack more efficient, as you can keep your fingers on your keyboard, and don’t have to bounce between keyboard and mouse. Anyone who spends a great deal of time typing (such as PHP developers and writers) appreciates its impact on efficiency.

Let’s take a look at how to use the Slack slash command and some of the more useful commands available to the Slack applications.


How to Use Slack’s Slash Commands

Many slash commands can be used in both the desktop and mobile versions of the Slack app (while some are only available on the desktop client). The reason why they are called slash commands is because each one always begins with the slash character – /.

The slash command can be entered in any text area: a workspace, a channel, even in a direct message. When you type the / character, it informs Slack that whatever follows is to be considered a command. Here’s a simple example.

Say you want to send a direct message to user Olivia (who shares a workspace with you). You could either click your way to and through the Direct messages section of the Slack app, locate Olivia in the directory listing, and send her the message. Or you could simply use the msg slash command like so:

/msg @olivia I need to chat with you about the project.

Type the message out and hit Enter (or tap/click the send button) and your message will be sent off to the user.

As you can see, you can use the @ symbol to interact with a user in Slash. In fact, when you engage with a user, you must use the @ symbol and when interacting with a channel, you use the # symbol. So you could send the same message to a channel named “discussion” with the command:

/msg #discussion I need to chat with you about the project.


Useful Slash Commands

At the moment, there are twenty-seven slash commands available to Slack users. Not all of those commands are terribly useful to the average user. There are, however, a number of slash commands that make your workflow with Slack quite a bit more efficient. Here are some of them:

  • /away: Toggles your away status.
  • /active: Toggles yourself as active.
  • /dnd TIME (where TIME is a description of time): Allows you to start or end a Do Not Disturb session. For example: /dnd one hour.
  • /invite @USER #CHANNEL (where USER is a username and CHANNEL is the name of a channel): Allows you to invite a user to a channel. For example: /invite @olivia #discussion.
  • /join #CHANNEL (where CHANNEL is the name of a channel): How you join a particular Slack channel. For example: /join #discussion.
  • /leave #CHANNEL (where CHANNEL is the name of a channel): Used to leave a specific channel. For example: /leave #discussion.
  • /me TEXT (where TEXT is a message): Prints out a message within a channel in italics. For example: /me heading out to lunch.
  • /mute CHANNEL (where CHANNEL is the name of a specific channel): Allows you to mute and unmute a specific channel. For example: /mute discussion.
  • /remind @USER #CHANNEL to WHAT WHEN (where USER is a username, CHANNEL is the name of a channel, WHAT is what you want to remind the user or channel of, and WHEN is a time): Allows you to send a reminder (at a specified time) to either a user or a channel. For example: /remind @olivia to compile the project in one hour. Or /remind #discussion to begin beta testing in one hour.
  • /search TEXT (where TEXT is a string of text): Allows you to search messages and files within Slack. For example: /search PHP offshore developers.
  • /star: Allows you to star the current message or thread. For this, you simply issue the command /star within a thread or a channel to bookmark it.
  • /status TEXT (where TEXT is a string of text): Allows you to set or clear your status. For example: /status I am compiling. Any status you set will be cleared on the following midnight.
  • /topic TEXT (where TEXT is the topic to be set): Allows you to set a topic for a channel. For example: /topic search for cost-effective nearshore developers.
  • /who: Lists members of the current channel (up to 100). This command is simply run as /who and will list all members of the channel you are currently working in.

And those are the slash commands you should become familiar with. With these in your toolkit, your Slack experience will be considerably more efficient. For a complete listing of available slash commands, check out this Slack page.


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