Unread Only Toggle Available for Teams Activity Feed

Clarify Your Activity Feed

Posted in Message Center notification MC437263 (September 22), the Unread only toggle for the Teams activity feed is now available in preview (see this post for details about how to use Teams in preview). According to the MC437263, all tenants should have the feature available in preview by early October (it might have been delayed). The feature is covered by Microsoft 365 roadmap item 88389, which says that the Unread only toggle will reach general availability in November 2022.

he desired state of notifications in the Teams activity feed after applying the unread only toggle
Figure 1: The desired state of notifications in the Teams activity feed after applying the unread only toggle

The Unread only toggle is available in the desktop, browser, and mobile clients. The default remains to have the toggle off. The toggle position is persistent, so it should remain in your chosen position when you return to Teams. This also applies to guests who switch between tenants. Although the toggle is tenant-specific, when you switch back to a tenant, the toggle should be in the same position as it was the last time you were in that tenant.

Base Functionality

The Unread only toggle is now part of Teams base functionality, which means that there’s no way for an administrator or a user to disable the feature. Introducing the feature makes a lot of sense. In fact, it’s surprising that it’s taken Microsoft six years to figure out that giving users a toggle to hide read notifications to focus on new items is a good idea. Typing /unread into the command box also filters out read notifications, but who remembers all the commands supported by Teams?

Even if you pay attention to the type of notifications you allow the app to display and use the other filters available for the activity feed (Figure 2), Teams can be an incredibly distracting place in which to work.

Filters for the Teams activity feed
Figure 2: Filters for the Teams activity feed

I find my eyes drawn to notifications for previously read messages in the activity feed. Perhaps it’s because I have a lingering doubt that I still need to action some request, reread a conversation, or something else. The same applies to an email inbox full of messages, which is why I delete messages after I deal with them. For whatever reason, seeing just unread notifications in the activity feed is strangely calming.

No Count for New Messages

Teams doesn’t display a count of unread messages for the activity feed. The count shown is for new notifications rather than unread messages as is common in email clients. Up to this point, you needed to check all the notifications in the feed to find if any unread items were present. When I turned on the Unread only toggle in a tenant, I found a bunch of unread notifications that I didn’t realize where there because their notifications had scrolled off the bottom of the screen.

Some notifications dated back to early September. Notifications remain in the activity feed for 30 days, so they were close to ageing out. This doesn’t mean that I’d never see the messages because I could always find them by going to the individual chats or channel conversations they belonged to. However, it does underline an advantage of being able to filter out all but unread notifications in the activity feed.

Useful Change

Introducing the Unread only toggle is a very worthwhile change. Although it’s late to the party, it’s good to see that Microsoft makes these kinds of fit-and-finish updates in addition to the higher-profile introduction of new features like being able to start a group chat by addressing a distribution list or Microsoft 365 group. I don’t know if I shall ever start a group chat like that, but I’ll use the Unread only toggle daily.

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