Microsoft Teams Chat Gets Compact or Comfy Spacing

New Spacing Option for Teams Chat

Announced on January 28, Microsoft released the ability for users to choose between “Comfy” (the default) and “Compact” (the new option) spacing for Teams chat messages. Figure 1 shows how compact spacing uses less screen than the traditional layout. The idea is to give users more control over how they view chat messages. You can see that the new layout left-aligns all messages and compresses the space between messages to allow more chats to appear on-screen. Another difference is that the comfy format includes timestamps whereas the compact does not.

Teams chat spacing can now be either comfy or compact
Figure 1: Teams chat spacing can now be either comfy or compact

I prefer the compact layout because it makes more efficient use of space. However, I know that others are quite happy with the comfy layout, perhaps because they’re accustomed to it or because they’ve got a big screen where space isn’t at a premium. Some also like having chat responses from other users indented. Style and design are very subjective.

Given normal practice, the compact spacing option should be generally available in a matter of weeks. As of now, there’s no trace of the option turning up in Teams consumer – at least, not in the software included in Windows 11.

Update February 1: Microsoft documented the feature in MC320165 and say that compact spacing fits 50% more chats on-screen. This is roadmap item 88064. Deployment begins to standard tenants in mid-February.

Selecting the Spacing Option

The setting to control chat spacing is available in Teams settings (Figure 2) for users configured to use the preview version of Teams.

Teams chat spacing is selected in Teams settings
Figure 2: Teams chat spacing is selected in Teams settings

Compact chat spacing is available in the Teams desktop client for Windows, Mac, and Linux as well as the browser client. I found that I had to select the compact option in the browser after setting it in the desktop. However, this might be a preview issue which Microsoft will fix before general availability.

Compact spacing for chat messages isn’t available in the mobile clients where screen real estate is usually more limited. Given that Teams is essentially a web application, it looks as if the application of compact spacing is controlled by changing the relevant style sheet. If you have guest accounts in other tenants, the spacing setting must be selected in each tenant.

Compact Spacing Unavailable for Channel Conversations

Spacing applies only to chat messages; it isn’t available for messages posted to channel conversations, possibly because channel posts tend to be longer and more involved, meaning that application of more compact spacing doesn’t have the same effect as in the cut-and-thrust interaction typical of chats.

However, the theory that channel conversations are longer is challenged by the presence of Microsoft Loop components in chats, which encourage longer and more sustained interactions in components like paragraphs and checklists. As Figure 3 shows, the internal formatting of loop components isn’t affected by compact spacing while the reduced space between the components is not very obvious.

Teams chat spacing doesn't make much difference to Loop components
Figure 3: Teams chat spacing doesn’t make much difference to Loop components

Hide for Me Available in Preview

Microsoft also announced that the Hide for Me feature, expected to roll out in late January (according to MC310349) is available in preview. The feature removes the user from the gallery of participant cards shown during meetings. It’s deemed helpful because user attention is no longer drawn to checking what other people see in their video feed. It’s certainly something that has attracted positive comment from Teams users and now preview users can try Hide for Me out.

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