How to Disable Chat in Microsoft Teams

Block Teams Chat Restricts Fundamental Teams Functionality

A question posed in a Facebook forum asked how to go about disabling the chat function for Teams users. I don’t think this is a great idea. In fact, I think it’s silly to consider using Teams after disabling such a fundamental piece of its functionality. At its heart, Teams is a chat application and it makes little sense to remove Chat.

However, if you really insist on taking an axe to Teams, two approaches exist to disabling chat for a user:

  • Create a Teams app setup policy without the Chat app and assign it to users.
  • Create a Teams messaging policy with Chat disabled and assign it to users.

As you’ll see, the second is the more effective option.

Teams App Setup Policy Approach

You can think of Teams as a framework built from apps. Chat is an app (at least, it’s considered an app in the apps analytics report available in the Teams admin center). It’s therefore logical to think that you can create an app setup report which doesn’t include Chat and assign the policy to the users for whom you want to block Chat.

It’s simple to create a new App Setup Policy and remove Chat from the list of pinned apps. Figure 1 shows what the policy looks like. All the other standard apps like the Calendar are present, but Chat is missing.

A Teams app setup policy without Chat
Figure 1: A Teams app setup policy without Chat

After assigning the app setup policy to users, the next time the user signs into Teams (or the client refreshes its cache), Chat will disappear, and they’ll see something like Figure 2. The other standard apps are pinned to the left-hand navigation bar, but Chat isn’t.

No Chat shown in the Teams navigation bar
Figure 2: No Chat shown in the Teams navigation bar

Chatting Not Blocked

The problem is that this approach only removes Chat from the list of pinned apps. Users can still chat. For instance, if someone starts a chat with a blocked user, the blocked user will see a notification and can respond in the notification, which brings them to the Chat screen (Figure 3).

A blocked user can still chat if someone else starts the conversation
Figure 3: A blocked user can still chat if someone else starts the conversation

Chats are also possible elsewhere in Teams, such as in a meeting (Figure 4).

Chatting in a meeting still works
Figure 4: Chatting in a meeting still works

Or through the chat option in the people card (Figure 5).

The chat icon is still there on the people card
Figure 5: The chat icon is still there on the people card

Teams Messaging Policy Approach

Removing the Chat app might be viable if Chat is blocked for everyone in the organization. However, out of sight, out of mind isn’t a great strategy and too many places exist in Teams where Chat bubbles to the surface.

The right approach is to create a Teams messaging policy with the Chat option disabled (Figure 6).

Blocking chat in a Teams messaging policy
Figure 6: Blocking chat in a Teams messaging policy

After assigning the new policy to users, they will lose access to Chat and won’t see the app in the navigation bar and the chat icon disappears from their people card.

But the real difference comes when someone attempts to contact one of the blocked users. At this point, Teams detects that the user can’t use Chat and signals that fact (Figure 7). You could argue about the informational text chosen by Microsoft (maybe “An organization policy blocks chat for this user” would be better), but the simple fact is that this is a more effective block.

There's no getting by an administrator block on chat
Figure 7: There’s no getting by an administrator block on chat

Blocking Meeting Chat

So far we’ve covered how to block the Chat app to stop users participating in personal and group chats. Teams also supports meeting chats, which are effectively a form of group chat between meeting participants.

Because meeting chats are associated with online meetings rather than individual users, they are governed by Teams meeting policies. If you want to stop chat in meetings, you must update the Teams meeting policies assigned to participants to disable the Allow chat in meetings setting (Figure 8).

The Teams meeting policy setting for enabling chat in meetings

Block teams chat
Figure 8: The Teams meeting policy setting for enabling chat in meetings

Stopping Chats is Possible – But Still Bad

Even though it’s possible to remove Chat, it’s still a bad idea (even in schools). You stop side conversations in meetings, which is a terribly useful way to ask and reply to questions and share information like URLs with participants. You stop group chats, which are a great way to resolve issues before bringing them to a wider audience (in a Teams channel, for instance). You stop federated communications with Skype consumer users and Teams users in other Office 365 tenants. None of this is good.

Cutting Chat out of Teams is a great way to force people to use apps like WhatsApp instead. That’s a great strategy to follow from a compliance viewpoint because no one will have any idea of the communications passing between employees. Do everyone a favor and leave well alone.

When someone comes to you with weird and wonderful ideas about Office 365 administration, consult the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to see what we think. Sometimes we might even have an answer!

18 Replies to “How to Disable Chat in Microsoft Teams”

  1. There should be a way to stop students from making/starting group chats (while still allowing chats in the meetings)…Just as there is a way to stop them from forming private channels/teams …. As a teacher in a school setting you DO NOT WANT students unattended in this manner. I doubt any educational institution dealing with minors will applaud a feature where students can be unattended while using a “school platform”. Anything that is said and shared there will fall on the shoulders of that institution.

    1. You can block users from chat via policy, but I suspect that you want some differentiation between personal chats and meeting chats. Maybe a good thing to take to Teams user voice?

  2. Hi, Great article. To confirm does turning Chat off disable just private chat between users (allowing users to still chat within a Class meeting) as i have read mixed statements here.
    I basically need the ability to block students from talking to each other outside of a shared Team chat (no private chats).

    1. Turning off Chat disables the Chat application for users. If you want to disable chat in meetings, you need to edit the meeting policy assigned to users to set the “All Chat in Meetings” switch to Off.

  3. Hi Tony… Quite often someone will create a meeting schedule, say an admin, and they themselves will actually be attending the meeting. In this case you _may_ wish to prevent them from accessing the meeting chat, but allow all other attendees to access it. Is this possible?

    1. Not really, The person who creates a meeting is the organizer, and there’s no good way to remove them from the meeting. If you want to run confidential meetings that are restricted to the people who need to attend, you should create the meeting using one of those peoples’ accounts.

  4. Great information. Is it possible to setup a meeting so that people who do NOT attend, do NOT received chat messages? So we have times where we offer multiple sessions of the same event over a week. In this case, all the people invited to the events get all the messages instead of just the one they actually join. Any ideas on a solution to this issue?

    1. OK, so when you create a personal meeting, you set up an online space for the meeting and grant access to the people you invite. The space hosts the chat and the other resources. You can’t stop people who are invited accessing those resources. If you don’t want people to have access, don’t invite them and circulate meeting notes afterwards.

  5. hey.

    we want to use teams in exams(pre-exam checkup).
    how can we disable ONLY private chat (between students) ONLY for students (who are guests).


    1. Edit the Teams Guest policy for the site and disable Chat. This will stop any guest user chatting. If the students had accounts, you could apply Teams messaging policies with chat disabled to just those accounts.

      1. Hi Tony,

        The problem is I do not want to totally disable chats.
        In a meeting, I want them to be able to chat to the HOST only, but all students can see. I do not want them (the students) to be able to chat amongst themselves.
        All students are guests. Is this scenario possible?

      2. I don’t believe the scenario you outline is possible in regular Teams meetings today. What you want is one-way chat from participants to the meeting organizer. The closest that exists is to use Live Events instead of meetings. In this case, the students will be able to ask questions, which are then approved and answered by a moderator (presenter). This would work and you might like to experiment with Live Events to see if these kind of meetings match your needs.

  6. Disabling chat, especially in school is a MUST, you have no idea how a nightmare it is for us in the education world.

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