Teams Priority Notifications and Urgent Messages

Nag Recipients with Teams Priority Notifications Until They Respond

Update: July 1: Microsoft has now dropped the idea of charging users for Teams priority notifications and will instead consider this feature to be part of the base product.

In June 2019, Microsoft introduced Priority Notifications, the ability to mark a message in a 1:1 chat as urgent. To create an urgent message, open the Chat app, select the recipient, create a new message and click the exclamation icon to reveal the option to mark the message as urgent. Compose the text and send the message as normal (Figure 1). Urgent messages can be composed and sent using the Teams desktop and mobile clients, but not the browser client.

Urgent message in chat

Teams Priority notifications
Figure 1: Urgent message in chat

An urgent message is different to marking it as important. This action simply marks the message with an IMPORTANT banner. When a user sends a message marked as urgent, Teams continues to notify the recipient every two minutes for a period of 20 minutes until they read the message (Figure 2). Common scenarios envisaged for the feature include notifying a doctor about an important case or flagging an issue to an on-call engineer.

An urgent notification is flagged to a Teams user
Figure 2: A notification for an urgent message arrives for a Teams user

In essence, an urgent message nags the recipient until they read it. Opening the Chats app is not enough to stop the two-minute clock, and priority notifications are delivered even when a user’s presence is set to Do Not Disturb.

Unlike notifications for normal Teams messages, you can’t use a priority notification to create an inline reply. Teams wants you to read the urgent message, so clicking Reply opens the chat with the sender to see the urgent message and complete the priority notification cycle. To make sure that you get the message (no pun intended), Teams also sends email to let you know that something urgent is happening.

Group Chats and External Users

Urgent messages are intended for direct communication with an intended recipient and are not supported for channel conversations. However, you can send an urgent message in a group chat so that everyone else in the chat receives a notification. This works if everyone in the group chat has a tenant account (including guests). You can’t send an urgent message to a group chat if any of the participants are external users, and you can’t send an urgent message in a 1:1 chat with an external user.

The Teams Messaging Policy Controls Who Can Send Urgent Messages

The ability to send urgent messages is controlled by the AllowPriorityMessages setting in the Teams messaging policy assigned to user accounts. To change a setting in a Teams messaging policy, go to the Teams Admin Center, select Messaging policies, and then edit whatever policy you want to update.

You can also manage the ability to send urgent messages with PowerShell. For example, this command examines all the Teams messaging policies in a tenant and reports the policies that do not allow users to send urgent messages. Remember to install the Microsoft Teams PowerShell module and run the Connect-MicrosoftTeams cmdlet first!

Get-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy | Where-Object {$_.AllowPriorityMessages -eq $False} | Format-Table Identity

Tag:Restricted - No Chat

To change the setting, run the Set-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy cmdlet. For example:

Set-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy -Identity "Restricted - No Chat" -AllowPriorityMessages $True

How Many Urgent Messages Are Sent?

Microsoft’s original intention was to limit the number of urgent messages users could send per month and charge for any urgent messages sent over the limit. Experience since Microsoft dropped that mad idea is that people don’t send all that many urgent messages. I guess when you’re in a chat, the need doesn’t exist to nag someone to respond to you except in very special circumstances.

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