How to Use Teams App Setup Policies to Control the Apps Available to Users

Defining the Apps in the Teams App Navigation Bar

The Teams App navigation bar is on the left-hand side of the desktop and browser clients and along the bottom of the mobile client. It’s where icons for pinned apps like the core set of default apps usually thought of as “Teams” (like Files, Chat, and Teams) appear along with a set of
less prominent apps accessed through the ellipsis menu […]. The set of apps shown in the navigation bar and their order are defined in a Teams App Setup policy. By default, all tenants have a default app setup policy called Global and another policy suitable for front-line workers called FrontLineWorker, which includes the Shifts app.

You don’t have to go anywhere near app setup policies if you’re happy with the set of apps in the navigation bar. However, if you want to add some apps or change the order, you do so through an app setup policy. You can have multiple app setup policies within a tenant, each of which is customized for specific groups of users.

Teams App Setup policies are part of a set of features designed to make apps more manageable. App setup policies also control if users are allowed to load custom apps into Teams (needed if they want to switch to developer preview) and pin apps to the navigation bar. Teams App Permission policies, which are announced but not yet available, are also in this set.

Creating a New Teams App Setup Policy

To create a new app setup policy, open the Teams Admin Center, go to the Teams Apps section, and select Setup policies. Select the choice to add a new policy. Teams populates the policy with the core apps (Activity, Teams, Chat, Files, Calendar, Calling). You can then remove apps, add apps, or move the apps up and down within the navigation bar. In Figure 1, I added the Insights, Tasks by Planner, Yammer Communities, and Stream apps. You can also install apps through the policy, as I have done for the Approvals app.

Defining a Teams App Setup Policy
Figure 1: Creating a new Teams app setup policy

You can add any app from the Teams store to the navigation bar, or any app you publish to your own tenant app catalog (aka the “Company store”).

After settling on the final set and order of apps, save the new policy.

Assigning a Teams App Setup Policy to Users

An apps setup policy only becomes effective when you assign it to a user. You can do this individually by selecting users in the Teams Admin Center and editing the set of policies assigned to the user (Figure 2). After a short period, the user’s Teams client will pick up the change in policy and apply the settings to the client’s navigation bar.

Changing Team App setup policy
Figure 2: Assigning an app setup policy to a user

In Figure 3 we can see the effect of applying an app setup policy. The default apps are reordered so that Teams is above the activity feed and three new apps (Planner, Stream, and the Who bot) are included in the bar.

Teams navigation bar after applying a new app setup policy
Figure 3: Teams navigation bar after applying a new app setup policy

If you remove any of the core apps from the navigation bar, the user can still access them through the ellipsis menu.

When an admin changes the app setup policy assigned to an account, Teams notifies the user that the change happened and advises them that some of their pinned apps might have moved (Figure 4).

Notifying a user about a change in a Teams app setup policy
Figure 4: Notifying a user about a change in a Teams app setup policy

PowerShell for Teams App Setup Policies

The Teams PowerShell module includes cmdlets to work with Teams app setup policies. For instance, to see all the policies in a tenant, run the command:

# Get Teams App Setup Policies

and to see the set of apps and their order in a policy, run a command like this:

# Return list of apps for a selected Teams App Setup Policy
Get-CSTeamsAppSetupPolicy -Identity "App Policy 2" | Select -ExpandProperty Pinnedappbarapps

Id    : 2a84919f-59d8-4441-a975-2a8c2643b741
Order : 1
Id    : 14d6962d-6eeb-4f48-8890-de55454bb136
Order : 2
Id    : 86fcd49b-61a2-4701-b771-54728cd291fb
Order : 3
Id    : 5af6a76b-40fc-4ba1-af29-8f49b08e44fd
Order : 4
Id    : ef56c0de-36fc-4ef8-b417-3d82ba9d073c
Order : 5
Id    : 20c3440d-c67e-4420-9f80-0e50c39693df
Order : 6
Id    :
Order : 7
Id    : com.microsoftstream.embed.skypeteamstab
Order : 8
Id    : fc6b6d20-89ed-45fb-9e62-e4b4ca8fbf3f
Order : 9 

It’s usually best to update app setup policies through the GUI of the Teams Admin Center. Where PowerShell comes in very handy is to assign a new policy to a bunch of users, even if the cmdlets in the Skype for Business Online module badly needed to be replaced by new cmdlets in the Teams PowerShell module. In any case, here’s a quick snippet of how to assign a Teams app setup policy to a group of users from a selected department.

# Assign Teams App Setup Policy to users in the Marketing department
$Users = (Get-CSOnlineUser -Filter {Department -eq 'Marketing'})
Foreach ($U in $Users) {
   Write-Host "Assigning Teams App Setup Policy App Policy 2 to" $U.DisplayName
   Grant-CSTeamsAppSetupPolicy -PolicyName "App Policy 2" -Identity $U.UserPrincipalName }

For more information about Teams, read Chapters 11 and 12 of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.

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