The Curious Case of the Teams Unmute Keyboard Shortcut

Moving New Features to January

As we approach the Christmas break, Microsoft winds down the pace of change appearing in the Microsoft 365 service to avoid the chance that an update might wreak havoc at a time when everyone’s on vacation. This is the reason why a bunch of features previously announced for roll-out in mid-December have been moved to January. No great harm will come because of the delay as none of the postponed features are especially important, especially at a time when user attention is elsewhere.

As I browsed the message center in the Microsoft 365 admin center (always an uplifting and informative experience), MC303510 attracted my attention. This is the Press to Unmute change for Teams meetings. It’s interesting because I never realized that such a need exists.

Unmuting Through the Keyboard

When delivered, you’ll be able to stay muted during a Teams meeting and then, if someone references you or calls upon you for a comment, quickly spring into verbal action by pressing the Ctrl + space keys (Windows) or Option + space keys (Mac). Microsoft doesn’t mention the Teams Linux client and the feature doesn’t work for the Teams browser client.

As long as you keep the keys depressed, all and sundry in the meeting can hear you. Once you release the keys, you revert to your previously muted state.

While generally positive towards keyboard shortcut, I don’t know why we need this one. Rushing to comment in a meeting is seldom a good thing. It’s usually better to pause before speaking, and you can do this by looking for the unmute button in the meeting options. Or you can use the Ctrl + Shift + M keyboard shortcut to toggle your mute state on and off. The shortcut only works in this mode when a Teams meeting window has focus.

Once unmuted, you can contribute to your heart’s degree, hopefully in a full and considered sense, before muting yourself again. Yes, deciding to unmute requires thought and yet another key click (or keyboard shortcut), but this is not beyond the wit and capabilities of the average Teams meeting participant. You might consider that having the ability to temporarily unmute and mute by putting pressure on and lifting off the Ctrl + space keys (on Windows) is more convenient. Maybe it is, but only albeit marginally so.

In any case, the feature will roll out in late December and should be available everywhere for commercial and GCC tenants by late January. GCC-High and DoD tenants should be able to use the unmute keyboard shortcut by late February. Microsoft has made the new shortcut available to Teams preview users, so you can sign up and test it now if you want.

Controlling the Unmute Keyboard Shortcut

Teams will automatically enable the unmute keyboard shortcut for all users. People who don’t want to use the shortcut can disable it using the Keyboard shortcut to unmute control in the Privacy section of Teams settings (Figure 1). There’s no way for an administrator to disable the setting on behalf of a user or for a complete tenant.

The control for the unmute keyboard shortcut in Teams settings
Figure 1: The control for the unmute keyboard shortcut in Teams settings

The presence of this setting creates more bewilderment for me. Why does such a keyboard shortcut warrant a mention in Teams settings? Why is it in the privacy section? Will Teams move to provide controls over other keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl + V and Ctrl + P?

Clearly someone in the Teams development organization feels deeply about the usefulness and important of the unmute keyboard shortcut. Perhaps, as has been pointed out by some, this is simply a matter of copying a competitor feature (Zoom push to talk). If so, I’m sure there are better and more functional features to copy.

Right now, I consider this to be a refinement of the existing mute/unmute capability rather than a brand-new feature that has received more attention than it merits. But hey, I don’t make the engineering decisions for Teams. Which is probably a good thing.

So much change, all the time. It’s a challenge to stay abreast of all the updates Microsoft makes across Office 365. Subscribe to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to receive monthly insights into what happens, why it happens, and what new features and capabilities mean for your tenant.

2 Replies to “The Curious Case of the Teams Unmute Keyboard Shortcut”

  1. I prefer physical button on my headset’s control thingy (wired Jabra). It sits flat right besides my mouse pad and is a few centimeters away to physically click and see red light when you are muted.

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