External People in Group Chat in Teams

Group chats in Teams can now include external people.  It’s as simple as creating any group chat in Teams.  First, just make sure you can message the external people to be included in the group.  In other words send them a Teams chat message.  Then simply create a new group or add them to an existing group.

Start a New Chat

Click the new chat icon.

Enter the name of the person. 
To send a message to someone in a different organisation use their full email address rather than just their name.

Compose your message

Click Send

Start a New Group Chat

Click the new chat icon

Enter the name of the first person, enter names of other people

Compose your message, use

 to send a longer message.

Click Send

Add People to Chat

In the chat, click

Enter the name or email of person to be added

Choose the amount of chat history to be shared with new members

Click Add

Rename a Group Chat

Select the group chat

Next to names click pencil icon

Enter new name

Click Save


My First Custom Together Mode Scene

To accompany Build 2021, there is a new Teams blog with enhancements for developers.  Have a read at https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/microsoft-teams-announces-new-developer-features-build-2021/ba-p/2352558

What caught my eye was the Together Mode custom scenes and it is surprisingly simple.  Here’s the official guide https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/platform/apps-in-teams-meetings/teams-together-mode

To create your own to test, navigate to https://dev.teams.microsoft.com/scenes and sign in with your Microsoft 365 identity.

Choose Create a new Scene

You now need to add images as layers. 

Start with your main background image.  It is recommended that images are in PNG format, no more than 5MB in size and max 1920 by 1080.

I’m using the Imperial Star Destroyer Bridge from https://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-backgrounds, which is actually a jpg file and still works.

Add the number of participants, by clicking the + Participants button and change the scroll to the number of people to have and click the Add button.

I added 10 here and you can see them all along the bottom of my image.

I can now drag the participants around my scene and position the placeholders.  You can also resize the placeholders, align them and adjust the x/y position in the image, which can be useful to align participant placeholders with others in the scene.

Given my meeting organiser deserves pride of place in my scene, I decided to reserve one placeholder for the organiser by assigning the image.

As you work, it’s probably a good idea to Save. Before you save you need to input a scene name.

If you click on participants you can add/remove participant placeholders

To try it out click the View in Teams button

Review the information and click Preview in Teams

Allow Teams to Open and then click Add  to add your new app

To Test create a meeting and invite enough attendees to test your scene. Once they join, switch to together mode and change the scene

Select your scene and click Apply.  I think I may need to adjust the image sizes in my scene, but it works for me and others in the same meeting, EVEN external people joining the meeting via the web.


Busy on Busy Options – Teams Calling

New options for call handling when a user is busy are availalbe and can be set now using PowerShell.  The option will eventually also be availalbe via the Teams Admin Center in Calling Policy.

Call handling when a user is already in a call is called Busy on Busy and by default is off in the Global Calling policy.

Previously we could set this to on or off.  When on callers got a busy signal and when off, the call just rang.  Going forward we also have an Unanswered option which means when the user is busy the setting for unanswered calls is used. 

Users configure their unanswered call handling themselves from Settings within Teams.

Users have the option to direct their unanswered calls including to their voicemail or alternative contact, including their own mobile phone if stored in their profile.

To set busy on busy option in the Global calling policy to use the users unanswered calls setting run this script

Set-CsTeamsCallingPolicy -Identity Global -BusyOnBusyEnabledType "Unanswered"

Note that the Teams Admin Center will currently show busy on busy as off once you have done this until the updated control is available.

As with all PowerShell scripts, you run them at your own risk.  So I’d always recommedn checking the official documentation before running any script you get from a blog (like this one).  The cmdlet used here is Set-CsTeamsCallingPolicy (SkypeForBusiness) | Microsoft Docs

For more on the Admin settings for this feature, please see https://docs.microsoft.com/microsoftteams/teams-calling-policy#busy-on-busy-is-available-while-in-a-call

For more on user settings, please visit https://support.microsoft.com/office/manage-your-call-settings-in-teams-456cb611-3477-496f-b31a-6ab752a7595f


Enable Stretchy Meetings & Webinars

OK, so Microsoft don’t call them Stretchy Meetings.  Officially they are meetings with view-only attendees but a meeting that can grow to accommodate more users to my mind is stretchy.  But that’s enough about the title of this blog.

In two recent message center posts Microsoft announced the rollout of webinars and view only attendees in Teams Meetings when the meeting exceeds 300 attendees (aka stretchy Meetings). Both are included at the end of this article for reference.

As they offer two solutions to larger meetings, I wanted to address how you can enable these for your users.

Both posts include guidance for admins on configuring the features using the meeting policy. At the time of writing this article the settings are not available in the meeting policy via Teams Admin Center but is available to set via PowerShell.

You should note that by default view-only attendee mode is disabled.  Webinars are on and though the documentation says default is Everyone can register but in my test tenants the default was to allow only people in your organisation to register.  So its worth checking.

For more info on the Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy cmdlet see Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy (SkypeForBusiness) | Microsoft Docs and for the Get-CSTeamsMeetingPolicy cmdlet see Get-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy (SkypeForBusiness) | Microsoft Docs

The limits as at 17th May is 1000 active participants in a meeting or webinar increasing to 20k with view only attendees enabled. This limit will drop back to 10k at the end of the year. For more details in limits see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoftteams/limits-specifications-teams#meetings-and-calls and View-only meeting experience – Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Docs

To check and change the settings

As both of these features are policy controlled you can configure different settings for each meeting policy. In the examples here I’ve shown managing both settings in the global policy.

To check/change other policies replace the word Global in these scripts with the name of the policy you want to change/look at.

Steps 6 to 10 give you options on the different settings, you should run the step(s) for the settings you wish to change from the default.  

  1. Open Powershell in Windows with Admin – right click on your start button and choose Windows PowerShell (Admin)
  2. Import the Teams module into the open PowerShell window
    Import-Module MicrosoftTeams
  3. Log in to Microsoft Teams 
  4. Confirm the features are available in your tenant by loading the current settings of the Global meeting policy and verifying that -StreamingAttendeeMode and -WhoCanRegister are available
    Get-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity Global
  5. Check the default settings for these two features.  You are looking for StreamingAttendeeMode for the view-only attendee options and AllowMeetingRegistration plus WhoCanRegister for the webinars.  You should also check the setting for AllowEngagementReport if you want to see attendee data from webinars.
  6. To allow view-only attendees when a meeting exceeds 300 attendees run
    Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity Global -StreamingAttendeeMode "Enabled"
  7. To disable view-only attendees and limit meetings to 300 active participants
    Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity Global -StreamingAttendeeMode "Disabled"
  8. To disable webinars
    Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity Global -AllowMeetingRegistration $False
  9. To enable webinars for internal attendees only
    Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity Global -AllowMeetingRegistration $True -WhoCanRegister "EveryoneInCompany" -AllowEngagementReport "Enabled"
  10. To enable webinars for external attendees
    Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity Global -AllowMeetingRegistration $True -WhoCanRegister "Everyone" -AllowEngagementReport "Enabled"
    You will also need to ensure AnonymousJoin is enabled to allow external users to join your webinars.  This is a tenant wide setting which applies to ALL meetings not just webinars and can be set from the Team Admin Center under Meeting Settings or with this script
    Set-CsTeamsMeetingConfiguration -DisableAnonymousJoin $false -Identity Global

Picture for each step

Step 1: Open PowerShell
Step 2: Import Teams Module
Step 3: Connect & Sign In
Step 3/4: Signed in Confirmation & running script to get current settings
Step 5: Check current setting on Global policy
Step 6: allow view only attendees
Step 7: Block view only attendees
Step 8: Disable Webinars
Step 9: Enable Webinars with Internal Only Attendees
Step 10 Part 1: Allow Webinars with External Attendees
Step 10 Part 2: Allow Anonymous Users to Connect to Meetings & Webinars

Message Center Posts

Microsoft Teams: webinars plus new meeting registration options


Plan for change

Published date: April 16, 2021

Affected services

Microsoft Teams






We are excited to announce the forthcoming availability of Teams webinar capabilities, beginning rollout at the end of April 2021, completing in May 2021.

Associated features that apply to webinars and meetings, include:

  • Registration page creation with email confirmation for registrants.
  • Reporting for registration and attendance.

These capabilities will be available to users with the following licenses: Office 365 or Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5/Business Standard/Business Premium. For the rest of 2021, we are offering temporary availability to Teams users to try the features with their existing commercial subscription.

Note: We will honor any existing meeting settings enabled within your organization. 

Key points

  • Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 800996595266459, and 66586
  • Timing: end of April through end of May
  • Control type: user control / admin control / admin UI
  • Action: review and assess 

How this will affect your organization

When scheduling a meeting, your users will see the Webinar option on the Calendar drop down menu in Teams (desktop/web).

Additionally, users will be able to add registrations for meetings and webinars for people in your organization and outside of your organization.

The registration feature will be on by default For everyone. In order to view who attended the webinars, we recommended setting the “AllowEngagementReport” policy to true.

Note: We will honor any existing meeting policies enabled within your organization:

  • If allow scheduling private meetings is turned off, then users will not be able to schedule webinars.
  • When anonymous join is disabled for the tenant, users can schedule a public webinar but it will fail on join.
  • SharePoint lists are required in order to set up webinars. To set this up, learn more here: Control settings for Microsoft Lists

What you need to do to prepare

By default, all users within your tenant will be able to schedule webinars unless current policy configuration prohibits it.

Should you wish to restrict who who can host a webinar that requires registration for everyone, change the WhoCanRegister policy accessed in the Teams admin center.

  • You can disable this policy tenant-wide
  • You can enable this policy for specific users

You can manage the registration feature in the Teams admin center or with PowerShell commands. There are three options for admin management.

  • Turn off registration for the entire tenant
  • Turn off registration for external attendees, the For everyone option
  • Give select users the ability to create a registration page that supports external attendees. All other users would be able create a registration page for people inside the tenant.

These policies are managed via PowerShell.

You might want to notify your users about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate. 

Teams meetings to support view-only attendees


Stay informed

Published date: April 16, 2021

Affected services

Microsoft Teams





We originally communicated this in MC240169 (Feb ’21). Currently, Teams meetings are limited to 300 users. If someone tries to join a meeting after it reaches capacity, they are unable to do so. With this update, meeting organizers who are assigned an appropriate license will be able to host a Teams meeting that has overflow capacity.

Up to 20,000 view-only attendees may join a meeting from late February through the end of June in order to accommodate heightened remote work scenarios. After July 1, 2021 we will support only 10,000 view only attendees.

Note: This capability will be available to users with the following licenses: Office 365 or Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5/Business Standard/Business Premium. For the rest of 2021, we are offering temporary availability to Teams users to try the features with their existing commercial subscription.

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID: 65952.

When this will happen

We have started to roll this out and expect to complete by end of April.

How this will affect your organization

When a tenant enables this overflow feature:

  • After a meeting reaches capacity (300 users), people will be able to join as view-only attendees, with the maximum number limited by the phase.
  • Organizers cannot remove view-only attendees from a meeting.
  • View-only attendees will not impact the normal interaction available for regular attendees (those who joined before the meeting reached capacity).
  • Once the view-only attendee limit is reached, no additional view-only attendees will be able to join.
  • View-only attendees will follow all lobby and security policy mechanisms.
  • View-only attendees will have limited access to meeting features. For example, view-only attendees will be able to listen to all audio and view a screen or window shared during the meeting. However, they will be unable to share audio or video, and they will be unable to see chat or other applications that are shared during the meeting.
  • Meeting organizers will not see view-only participants in attendee counts or reports; this feature does not support the e-discovery of data

What you need to do to prepare

This feature is OFF by default for your users.

You may use PowerShell to enable this feature for your entire tenant while you prepare to assign the licenses.

  • Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity Global -StreamingAttendeeMode Enabled

Note: The view-only attendance feature is provided using Teams streaming services.

Learn more


Get Started with Teams PowerShell

PowerShell is very powerful (no pun intended) but if you don’t know what you are doing it can be dangerous, making big changes to your environment without prompting for confirmation.  If you run ANY PowerShell scripts against your Office 365 tenant you alone are fully responsible for the actions undertaken, so please ensure you are fully confident in the source of your information.

I would recommend having a look at the Microsoft Learn module as a first step.  It should only take approx 1h to complete. Introduction to PowerShell – Learn | Microsoft Docs

Then review the guidance on managing Microsoft Teams using PowerShell from Microsoft Microsoft Teams PowerShell Overview – Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Docs

If you are looking at scripts for Microsoft Teams from a blog (like this one) I would recommend checking  them against MicrosoftTeamsPowerShell Module | Microsoft Docs.  This helps you learn more about the scripts but also lets you check the cmdlets (commands) you intend to use are still valid.

Finally, ALWAYS close your PowerShell Windows when you are not actively using them.  This closes the connection and logs you out, helping to keep your environment secure.

That said, here is how I would recommend setting up Teams PowerShell.  Note I do not use a variable for the credential as the official blog suggests but wait for the log in prompt instead.  In my opinion this works better with MFA.

  1. Open Powershell in Windows with Admin – right click on your start button and choose Windows PowerShell (Admin)
  2. Install Teams Powershell by running this script (see Install Microsoft Teams PowerShell – Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Docs)
Install-Module -Name MicrosoftTeams
  1. Import the newly installed module into the open PowerShell window
Import-Module MicrosoftTeams
  1. Log in to Microsoft Teams 
  1. You are now ready to manage Teams using PowerShell

When you are installing PowerShell Modules, you will always be prompted to confirm download from the repository, as shown below.  You should only confirm one repository at a time using Y response.

Once set up you can then log in future by:

  1. Open Powershell in Windows with Admin – right click on your start button and choose Windows PowerShell (Admin)
  2. Import the Teams module into the open PowerShell window
Import-Module MicrosoftTeams
  1. Log in to Microsoft Teams 

To Update Teams Powershell

  1. Open Powershell in Windows with Admin – right click on your start button and choose Windows PowerShell (Admin)
  2. Run the Update Script
Update-Module MicrosoftTeams
  1. Import the Teams module into the open PowerShell window
Import-Module MicrosoftTeams
  1. Log in to Microsoft Teams 

Capturing Screen Shots from a Teams Phone

It is possible to capture screen images from a Teams phone using a web browser page.   Please note you do need the phone admin login to use this.

Firstly you need to ensure that the device configuration permits screen capture.  To create and assign a device configuration profile, go to the Teams Admin Center and under Devices > IP phone choose Configuration profiles.

The setting you need to switch on is the Screen Capture setting

Once the config has been assigned you need the IP Address of the phone and put it into the link https://PhoneIP/screencapture

But how do you get the IP?  Well you can get it from the phone itself.  These screenshots are taken from Yealink TP55A.

Tap the profile picture on the home screen

Choose Settings

Select Device Settings

Choose About

Note the Device IP

Open your web browser and navigate to: https://PhoneIP/screencapture, replacing the words PhoneIP with the IP address of the phone.  You may need to use the advanced options to continue to the page, depending on your network configuration.

Sign in using the device Admin account.  The defaults are different by device and the password is controlled by the device configuration policy.  For my phone the username is admin (all lower case)

Once signed in use your preferred screen clipping tool to take screen shots from the web browser

To take my screenshots for this blog, I use an combination of the built in Windows snipping tool, ZoomIt https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/zoomit and Snagit https://www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.html


Transcription for Super Users

Following on from the post for end users on transcriptions in Teams meetings, here is the extra you need to know as a Super User.

Privacy Concerns

Both close captions and transcripts can display the name of the speaker, though there is a setting to control this for privacy purposes if required.  This is a per user setting and is found in the Teams settings on both desktop and web apps and travels with the user wherever they sign into Teams.

As with meeting recordings agreement from attendees should always be sought.  Often, I will advise participants who do not want to be recorded or transcribed to use the meeting chat and keep their cameras off.  Those messages can be read/summarised for the recording/transcription if needed.

When Can I Use Transcription?

Transcription is disabled by default and so organisations need to enable it.  This setting is a policy setting and as such can be set on/off for different users or groups of users.

The availability of transcripts in a meeting depends on the meeting policy settings assigned to the user who set up the meeting.  The transcription can be started by any user in the same tenant as the meeting organiser, if they too have transcription features enabled in the meeting policy they are assigned.  Once started any meeting attendee can view the meeting if they too have transcription features enabled in the meeting policy they are assigned, including external users.

Prior to the release of the meeting Transcript in March 2021, the transcription setting only controlled whether meeting recordings would have live captions available on them, now this controls the transcript feature as well.

Transcription features are not available in Meet Now meetings at the time of writing, but it is a new feature so this may follow.

Transcription is a meeting only feature and not available for calls.

If your organisation uses a compliance call recording third party tool, then that tool may have different functionality.  This article relates only to the standard Teams Meeting transcription features.

Downloading and Reviewing the Transcript

If you’ve used the transcript generated in classic Stream from meeting recordings, the actual transcript file will look very similar regardless of whether you download it in vtt or Word format.

If you view the transcript via the Recording & Transcript tab in the meeting entry via the Teams calendar after the meeting you see the transcript in the same format as during the meeting, with user pictures and timestamps showing as time of day not meeting duration time.

If there is more than one transcript, e.g. if the transcription is stopped and restarted during the meeting, then you will see multiple transcripts.


Meeting Transcription

There are two ways of displaying in text format what is said during a Microsoft Teams Meeting; Live Captions and Transcript. 

Live captions are shown on screen (usually at the bottom of the meeting screen) and disappear as new captions are generated.  Live captions are visible only to users who switch them on. Live Captions can also be switched on when watching recordings, but only if transcription was enabled for the meeting organiser.

The transcript appears in the side pane (same as meeting chat) which users can scroll during the meeting and is saved for download after the meeting.  Transcripts are visible to all meeting participants, including guests using the Teams app on PC or Mac.  If accessing a meeting from the Teams web app you will only be able see the transcript after the meeting via the chat or meeting details.

Your Teams administrator can control if these features are available for you, so not everyone will have this functionality.  If you do not have these options and you need them, please discuss with your Teams administrator.

 To start the transcript, from the … Menu choose Start transcription

 You will see the banner confirming transcription has started.

Other participants will also get a notification.

 The transcript is visible in the side box

and can be displayed, hidden or stopped from the … menu 

If you then choose to record the meeting for sound & video as well as transcribe the meeting, the banner notification includes both transcript and recording information.  Here the recording was started after the transcript

 And you can still access the meeting recording from the chat, as normal.

 When stopping a recording yet still running the transcript you see the normal stop recording message

 Followed by the banner indicating the meeting is still being transcribed

And this banner shows the transcription has stopped but the recording continues.

 Once you stop transcribing the meeting you see a banner confirmation that it has stopped. 

 After the meeting is over, the recording and transcript are available from the meeting details in the Teams calendar

 and also under the Recordings & Transcripts tab

where you can also download the transcript, as a Word document or video text transcript (vtt) file.

 Using Transcripts with People from Other Organisations

 If people have transcripts feature enabled then you can use transcripts with users from other organisations too.  On the left in this image, you see the view for the meeting organiser and on the right the attendee from another organisation.  Only people from the same organisation as the person who set up the meeting can start the transcript but people from other organisations can view it, both during and after the meeting.


My Favourite Virtual Background Sources

Apart from creating my own backgrounds in PowerPoint which I covered in an earlier post, these are my personal favourite sources for background images for virtual meetings. Create your own Teams backdrop using PowerPoint – The Teams Queen Blog

Ikea https://backgroundsbyikea.com/


Warner Bros https://www.warnerbros.com/news/articles/2020/07/08/virtual-backgrounds-microsoft-teams-calls


Manage Teams Meeting Options

Teams meeting options are how you can control who can do what in your meeting.  In the Education sphere this control is essential but they are also very useful in many other scenarios.

Once you are into the meetings option screen let’s look at what the settings mean and which you should choose.


The lobby settings allow you to protect your meeting from uninvited guests.  The Invited Users setting is probably the best in most scenarios, however at the time of writing this option is rolling out and not available to everyone yet, so  the second best is people in my organisation or Just Me.  After all you don’t want any ‘Zoom bombers’ invading your Teams meeting.

Callers are people who join via a phone call, if that feature is available to you, and you can also choose to put these dial-in users into the lobby too.


Before diving into these options you do need to consider the 3 roles in a Teams Meeting (see https://bit.ly/3qgQ5Yj for full details).  To simplify, when you create a meeting you are the organiser and have full control of the meeting and all features, presenters can share content, their video and mute/unmute while attendees only have the ability to unmute if the organiser allows.

Speak and share videoYYY
Participate in meeting chatYYY
Share contentYYN
Privately view a PowerPoint file shared by someone elseYYY
Take control of someone else’s PowerPoint presentationYYN
Mute other participantsYYN
Prevent attendees from unmuting themselvesYYN
Remove participantsYYN
Admit people from the lobbyYYN
Change the roles of other participantsYYN
Start or stop recordingYYN
Set Meeting OptionsYNN
View Attendance Report During MeetingYNN
Control Breakout RoomsYNN


Often attendees join with a lot of background noise.  If you are running a training or briefing style meeting this can be very disruptive, so it may be appropriate to mute attendees and block them from unmuting.  This option is also one that is often changed during a meeting.


Meeting chat is a useful addition to a meeting, but when it continues after a meeting or is abused by attendees then it can become a distractor.  Like the allow to unmute setting, this can be changed during a meeting at need.  Only allowing chat during the meeting, does not mean the chat disappears after the meeting, but that it becomes read only once the meeting ends.


Reactions are visible feedback which show on screen and can be used to engage with the presenter.

Coming Soon – Video Availability settings to block attendees switching on their video is due to start rolling out in April 2021 (see Microsoft 365 Roadmap | Microsoft 365)

To access the meeting options before the meeting use option 1 or 2 below.  To access the meeting options during the meeting I prefer option 4 below as you don’t leave the meeting, but option 3 will take you to the same page as options 1 & 2, if you prefer.

  1. From Teams Calendar:
  1. From Meeting Invite:
  1. During the meeting
  1. During the meeting within the meeting interface

Why Teams Queen? – The Impact of The Community

(acronyms listed at the end of the article)

I’ve called my new blog Teams Queen, after friends in the community started calling me their “Teams Queen” in recognition of the help I’ve given them with Microsoft Teams.

With today being the day of the 2021 Scottish Summit, a great example of what the community can do and next week it’s Microsoft Ignite where we will be celebrating certificated professionals.  It seemed a great time to put out launch my new blog with this post about the Microsoft Certified Trainer community.

I LOVE being an MCT and wanted to share with you all why if you are an MCT I strongly believe you should engage with the community. So this blog shares what being involved in the community has given me personally and professionally.

aka. ms/ProudT03eCertified

I am an independent trainer and have been working as a full time freelance professional since 2005, focussing mainly on training and more recently consultancy too.  I’ve been in training and education in some form or other since gaining my PGCE in 1996 and have been an MCT since 2008, though I was a MOUS Master Instructor for nearly 2 years before I became an MCT, as in those days Office certifications had their own instructor program before it was merged with the MCT program.

Having left teaching after a fixed term contract and fallen into IT training by accident in 1998/9, the Office certifications and the ECDL were a gateway to knowledge and skills in my new profession and at the time were a HUGE step for me.  Computers were not really my friend at this point, but by working for these certifications I learnt and was soon hooked on IT.  But I passed the exams, applied to and was accepted into the MOUS Master Instructor program and my IT Training career was born.

Fast forward to 2017 and I was starting to wonder why I kept renewing my MCT.  It was starting to feel like a useless badge. If I’m honest, I kept renewing mainly for pride but it wasn’t really worth the cost and if I’m honest, I didn’t see any other benefits being an MCT.  Especially once the Office 365 licence benefit was withdrawn.

Then in 2017, I got an email from one of the UK regional leads about an event they were holding at the Microsoft Campus in Reading in the October.  Now I didn’t even know such things happened and hadn’t ever received such a message before so had no idea what a regional lead was, let alone that there was a whole community of MCTs.  I mainly went as I was interested in seeing the Reading offices and learning a bit more about this Azure thing that seemed to somehow link the Office 365 which I was now mainly training on.  Oh how naïve I was!

I’d been training Office365 since about 2013 (Aug 2013 was the first course I have delivered focused on Office 365 as a whole) , but it was that event in 2017 when I first became aware of the MCT community and realised just how much was going on and what other trainers were doing, as well as how little I actually knew about some parts of 365 and cloud, but also how much I knew about others areas.  That event was a catalyst for me to drive to the next level.  I wanted to be a certified 365 administrator and train the official courses.  I felt I was so close, though having no technical background it was a struggle.

After that UK event in 2017, and another in 2018 then the MCT Global Summit in Germany in Oct 2018 I gained the motivation (and confidence) to try for the Office 365 certifications. It took me a few more months after that to get my first Microsoft 365 certification, mainly as I ended up waiting for the role based certifications early in 2019.

By the time the European MCT Summit rolled around in September 2019, I had friends in the MCT community and even got up the courage to speak at the event to try and encourage others to follow in my footsteps.  Now, no-one’s first conference speech is an amazing success, but mine was well received, plus I got a lot of helpful comments and constructive feedback.  My biggest gain at that event though was that I really now understood what was going on.

After those two international events as well as friends in the community I had I had also gained a network of people who encouraged me, helped when I asked and referred work to me too.  In the space of 18 months I’d gone from being disillusioned with being an MCT to gaining professionally and personally from being a part of a community I had been missing out on.

As a result of getting involved in the MCT community I’ve been to more community events and conferences (not just those for MCTs), gained many more professional contacts, met more MCTs, am now delivering the MOC courses, helped others get started with their MCT benefits and generally got more involved in the MCT Community. But the biggest thing this community has given me from a professional perspective was the support and motivation to take the steps I wanted to enhance my career.  Without that one email in 2017 and that one event, none of that would have been possible.

Acronyms in this post

MOUS –  Microsoft Office User Specialist (now MOS: Microsoft Office Specialist)

MCT – Microsoft Certified Trainer

PGCE –  Post Graduate Certificate in Education, a Teaching Certificate for UK schools open to those already having a degree

ECDL – European Computer Driving Licence

MOC Courses – Microsoft Official Curriculum Courses


Virtual Training – Elgato Stream Deck Mobile

A couple of days ago I posted a blog on my using a green screen, OBS Studio and Microsoft Teams. In it I mentioned Stream deck from Elgato as a possible alternative to needing 3 screen to use full screen projection in OBS Studio. The paragraph went

You could also use a scene switching piece of hardware for controlling the scenes. I tend to also open the meeting chat in the browser version of Teams on my control screen, though you could do that from a mobile phone or tablet rather than 3rd screen, if you went with the hardware based solution. Something for me to consider as a next step if the virtual training keeps going.


Well it seems there is a software version which comes in much more cost effective.

Stream Deck Mobile is a mobile app that does the same thing as the hardware. Having found this I decided to test it out and this blog is what I found out and how you too can set it up. There is a subscription cost for the app but you can pay for 5+ years subscription for less than the physical device and you get the first month free to test it out. Or use both if you want to.

Getting Set up

Install the app on your mobile device – search or app store or go to https://www.elgato.com/en/gaming/stream-deck-mobile on your mobile device and follow the links. You will need to sign up for a subscription which will give you a one month trial.

Stream Deck subscription screen on iOS

The mobile app will prompt for a QR code, but you when activated, which you get from the desktop app, so you also need to install desktop software from https://www.elgato.com/en/gaming/downloads

Once installed, open Stream Deck on your PC & Phone and connect using a QR code. Follow the steps in the images below.

On the PC , pick Add Mobile Device… to display QR code
Switch to mobile device when you see the code
Scan QR code displayed in your PC from this screen. If the QR scan screen is not showing see next image to continue
IF QR scan code is not showing, tap the gear icon (bottom right)
Then tap Add Connection. You can also use Add Connection to connect to a different device.

You can now start customising the buttons on your deck. To do this find the item in the action list and drag to a button position. Rotate your phone to landscape to use otherwise the layout between PC and phone doesn’t line up!

The first thing I added was a scene from OBS Studio. I decided to keep the scenes in the same order I had them in OBS Studio and keep the same names.
Enter the title, then adjust display and font options on the title from the T button
Choose the scene you require
To customise the icon, you can upload an image or click Create New File to open the Key Creator website.
Create your own button using a web based tool by adding icons, text, images and then, click save key to download the compiled image. I recommend that you save the images in a folder just for these icons so they are all in the same place. This will make for easier backup/alteration etc.

Repeat until all the required scenes or other buttons are added to your Stream Deck.

Another great feature is the ability to launch a website or application on your PC from the deck. I regularly open the same set of web pages during training courses, so I created multi action button to open multiple web pages.

Add a multi action button, give it a name, then drag the required actions into the action.
Set the properties on each action in the group

In my blog about creating a Do Not Disturb light I was using a flic button, but you can also include switches for Hue bulbs in your Stream Deck.

First click on More Actions button at the bottom of the list of actions, search for and install Hue connections
I then created a muti action button which let me switch on and set the colour on my dedicated Do not Disturb light.

My Strem Deck as it stands, but I think it will evolve as I start using it.

I did leave the Welcome key in place for now, to access the welcome blog again if needed. The blog is:


Using Flic and Hue to build a Do Not Disturb light

Its April 2020 and due to Covid-19 a lot of us are working from home, trying to find quiet nooks to hold conference calls without inappropriate interruption from family members.

There are some great articles out there on building your own automated “Do not Disturb” lights and also some great products, but I decided that I needed one that was a little more manual, but still a bit geeky.


  • I like technology so it needed to be a little geeky
  • I’m not a developer – firmly no code here if I can possibly get away with it
  • I’m working across 5 different Microsoft Teams Logins as a member of teams in 11 organisations – so which log in would I automate from? (One of the downsides to being a consultant)
  • We have multiple people in the same house who need to indicate their Do Not Disturb Status and not all of that is triggered by Teams

The solution I chose was to program a Flic button for each of us and set up a Hue light near the entrance to each persons work are to let each other know if we were available or not.

Our system now works like this. We are lucky enough to be able to each use a different room to work in, so we close the door to the room to indicate we are working and then set the light to red/green to indicate if we can be disturbed.

  • Closed door & red light = Do not enter, send me a text if its urgent
  • Closed door & green light = Busy, but you can come in
  • Open door (regardless of light status) = I’m happy to see you 🙂

Each Flic is programmed the same and we have them linked to a Flic hub, so they work even if our phones are out of range/off. (See https://flic.io/) The flic buttons are programmed from the mobile app. You also need a Philips Hue hub and colour change light. But Flic does integrate with other smart bulbs and IFTTT too, so there are quite a few options to recreate this. These are the steps assuming you already have a Philips Hue bridge and lights but are new to Flic.

  1. Buy your button
  2. Download the app
  3. Follow the instructions in the app to add your hub and/or button.
  4. Give the button a name once you have added it
  5. Tap the + beside the action and pick Philips Hue
  6. Follow the instructions to connect your Philips Hue bridge – you’ll need to be close to the bridge to do this as you’ll have to press the button on the top of the bridge.
  7. Pick the light and setting you require. Below is my button and the ‘Click’ setting to switch on the red light:

Channel Notifications

Are you a member of a Team across more than 1 organisation/Office 365 Tenant? I use Channel Notifications to help me keep on top of the less well used teams.

NOTE: A Tenant used to refer to the part of the whole of Microsoft365 which you as an organisation rent. Many organisations have only 1 tenant but larger or more complex organisations may have more than one.

Currently (April 2020) the experience of being a member of a Team in another companies tenant can be challenging, especially if you are a member of quite a few teams across multiple organisations. Switching between tenants is much smoother than it used to be but can still be a challenge.

Keeping on top of what is going on can be a challenge. The are:

  • Have the other tenant open in different web browser profiles
  • Use a different device for each tenant (not practical/feasible for most people)
  • Use Notifications

In this blog I’ll concentrate on using notifications.

First – in you main tenant, check your general notification settings. If you have a very busy Teams environment make sure you are not going to be inundated with notifications with the settings you choose. My main tenant is quite light in Teams usage but any posts where I am tagged typically need my attention quickly, hence the once every 10 minutes setting on missed activity emails.

Secondly – if you use Teams on a mobile check those notification settings too. But remember the notification settings here are per device not per organisation.

Thirdly – In the tenants you dont normally work in check the tenant wide settings for notifications as per step 1.

Finally – In the tenant/org you are not normally working in, go to the important channel(s) and click …. next to channel name then choose channel notifications. Set it as appropriate for you.

At this time the world is struggling to cope with COVID-19 and the movement restrictions needed to fight the rapid spread of the virus. As more organisations turn to Microsoft Teams to help keep business and education going we all need to ensure we can see what is happening across our teams.

Yet when we go back to normal, these skills will still be useful. Just remember, you are an individual. What works for you may not work for others – if the settings I suggest don’t work for you, pick different ones, but at least now you know where to find them.

Out of Office Automatic Replies

With the release of Out of Office settings for Microsoft Teams, I wanted to share a how to, but did you know there are many options for setting your out of office or automatic replies in Office 365 and they each offer slightly different functionality?

So here are all of the ways you can now set your automatic replies for Office 365.

You can set your Out of Office from

  • Outlook on Mobile Devices
  • Outlook on PC or Mac
  • Outlook on the Web
  • Microsoft Teams on PC or Mac (not available in Team web or mobile)


My personal favourite is Outlook on the web as it offers me the most control, but here are all the different ways and what they look like.  (Disclaimer: This article is written on 8th April 2021.  Microsoft 365 apps and services continuously develop, so by the time you read this article things may have changed.)


Outlook MobileYYY     
Outlook PCYYYYY   
Outlook MacYYYYY   
Teams PCYYYYY   
Teams MacYYYYY   
Teams Mobile        
Teams Web        

Best Practice

However you set your out of office message for best practice please:

  • Include the date of return (tomorrow or next week only helps, if we know when you set the reply)
  • Include an alternative contact in your absence, if appropriate, ideally a shared mailbox.
  • Be careful not to disclose sensitive information such as holiday location or colleagues mobile phone numbers, especially to external recipients
  • Include your email signature as you would when writing an email normally and be aware that most companies do not add the normal footer to outgoing automatic replies as they do to normal emails. 
  • If sending to ALL external senders be aware that your reply may go to junk and phishing email senders as well as legitimate senders. So keep signature to a minimum for replies to external senders when including all senders.

Here are some suggestions for you to consider.

Sample for Colleagues (Internal)

Thank you for your message, which has been received.  I will not be able to respond as normal, as I am on leave and will be taking a break from all work communications until I return on 10th May 2021.

If you need a response to your message before my return, please forward your message to holidaycover@email.com and copy me in to the message so I know you are not waiting for my response.  Your message has not been sent on automatically.

Kind Regards


Sample for External (Contacts Only)

The above message may also be used for contacts only as it is vague enough.  However you may wish to be more vague, depending on your role, such as:

Thank you for your message, which has been received.  I will not be able to respond as normal, as I am on leave and will return on 10th May 2021.

If you need a response to your message before my return, please forward your message to holidaycover@email.com and copy me in to the message so I know you are not waiting for my response.  Your message has not been sent on automatically.

Kind Regards



Sample for External (Everyone)

In this case I am assuming legitimate business contacts have a phone number, alternative contact name or access to a website ‘contact us’.  I do not want to give away additional contact details or names if the sender is not a legitimate business contact, and would send a generic message such as:

Thank you for your message, which has been received.  I will have limited access until 10th May 2021, at which time I will action your message.

If your message needs a response before then, please make contact with a colleague or ring my work phone which a colleague will answer.

Kind Regards


How to (with Screenshots)

Outlook Mobile on an Android phone

(Screen shots from a Surface Duo running Android 10)

Tap Home, then Settings cog at the bottom of the screen

Tap the account you wish to set out of office replies for then select Automatic Replies

Choose the desired settings and write the message(s) required, then tap the tick at the top of the screen to confirm.

Outlook Mobile on iOS

(Screen shots from a iPhone12 running iOS14.4.2)

Tap Home, then Settings cog at the bottom of the screen

Tap the account you wish to set out of office replies for then select Automatic Replies

Choose the desired settings and write the message(s) required, then tap the tick at the top of the screen to confirm.

Outlook on Windows

From the File menu choose the account you wish to set the out of office for if not the default one shown using the drop down at the top of the screen then Automatic Replies (Out of the Office)

Select the options required incl Date/Times if required.  Once set you can click OK to set.

On the Outside My Organization tab, you can switch on/off sending the message to external recipients and choose to send to only contacts or any external senders. 

Please note Anyone will include any mailing lists, newsletters etc so you may find that you receive replies about unmonitored email accounts or failed delivery for out of office replies with this option on.

Outlook on Mac

From the Tools menu choose Automatic Replies

Select the account and then the options required incl Date/Times if required.  Once set you can click OK to set.

When setting your replies you can switch on/off sending the message to external recipients and choose to send to only contacts or any external senders. 

Please note if you do not specify to send Only to my Contacts your reply will be sent to everyone including any mailing lists, newsletters etc so you may find that you receive replies about unmonitored email accounts or failed delivery for out of office replies with this option on.

Outlook on Web

Navigate to https://outlook.office.com/mail/inbox From the settings cog menu choose View all Outlook settings

The dialog box should open on Email settings tab, if not select Email then  Automatic Replies.  Configure the options required, filling in the message boxes as required then click Save.

When picking the setting to decline meeting invites and cancel meetings already in your calendar during the Out of Office period, you can choose to send your standard out of office reply or enter a custom message for just the cancelled meetings. 

It is recommended you add a message for declined meetings or include reference to that fact that meeting are being cancelled by the out of office reply function.  Otherwise the meeting organiser may not realise you have declined the invite and just think they got a standard out of office reply.

When setting your replies you can switch on/off sending the message to external recipients and choose to send to only contacts or any external senders. 

Please note if you do not specify to send to Only Contacts your reply will be sent to everyone including any mailing lists, newsletters etc so you may find that you receive replies about unmonitored email accounts or failed delivery for out of office replies with this option on.

Teams on PC

From the person menu choose Set status Message

Click the Schedule out of office message

Turn on automatic replies and choose appropriate settings including entering your message(s) then click Save.

As an alternative you can also access the out of office via the settings menu, under General

Teams on Mac

From the person menu choose Set status Message

Click the Schedule out of office message

Turn on automatic replies and choose appropriate settings including entering your message(s) then click Save.

As an alternative you can also access the out of office via the settings menu, under General

Some Observations on the Updated Account Switcher and Menu

The updated menu and account switcher updated functionality has landed in my Teams client as at 7th April 2021 (at least when its set to preview build) and I wanted to share a few observations with you.

First up, note the message highlighting the changes

The … Menu has settings in it and nice little zoom control.  Did you know you can also hold down CTRL key and use the wheel on your mouse to zoom in/out too?

My name and picture link to the organisation switcher.  It’s here you can also set your status message and presence

When you go to set your status message there is a new link to set up Out of Office from Teams.

In the main settings dialog, which you now access via … Menu there is a tab for accounts.

From here you can also turn on/off notifications as well as switch accounts .

Also new, under the App Settings tab you can control the access some app have to your camera, location, notifications etc as well as control what Teams generally has permission to use.  NDI has also moved to the App Permissions tab.

The final change I noticed is that Public Preview option has disappeared from the About  menu, but I’m sure this is one of those little glitches that show up when you are running preview software.

Transcription Meeting Policy Settings

This article follows the articles for end users and super users in relation meeting transcription.

Transcription is available to all users with Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, and Microsoft 365 Business Premium SKUs.

Transcription is off by default in the Global Meeting Policy and so your users will not see the feature unless you enable it.

As transcription is a feature which is policy controlled, it can be on for some users and off for others, by use of multiple policies.

See guidance on meeting transcription settings https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/cloud-recording#turn-on-or-turn-off-recording-transcription and managing meeting policies https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/meeting-policies-in-teams