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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Sterner

External users in Microsoft Teams – part 1 – chatting

Updated: May 2, 2022

To be honest, chatting with external people in Microsoft Teams can be confusing sometimes. I will cover the topic in several blog posts, starting with chatting with people.

First a quick reminder of how it works in Skype for Business.

1. Your organization needs to decide how restricted they want to be with external people, I’ve worked in organizations where I can chat with any Office 365 account and in organizations where I only can chat with federated companies

2. Search for the full name in Skype for Business ( and start chatting

As Microsoft Teams is still quite a young product, external sharing is something that is being improved continuously.

Let’s see how it works in Microsoft Teams for the same scenario as described above

1. Your organization needs to decide if you can chat with external people or not, it will be clear if you can chat with the person or not when you search for her/him. My opinion? Let it be open and add policies to keep data safe instead of full block. Dux said something valuable during Microsoft Ignite the Tour Stockholm

“You wouldn’t turn off your email for external sharing and that’s the biggest source of data leakage”

2. Search for the full name, click Search for the person externally and start chatting

Searching for external people

If you can chat to the person a purple bar will appear with the name and the tag external.

How a external contact will look

If you can’t chat to the person you will get a warning message saying your organizations aren’t set up to chat to each other. If the person isn’t available isn’t much to do unfortunately.

If you can't talk to an external contact

If it looks like the image bellow your organization has turned off the ability to chat to external people, then there are other ways to talk to external people which I will cover in future blog posts or you can talk to your local IT 😉.

If your organization turned of external chatting

But how will it look for the other person?

When I’m writing this blog post there are some different versions of how it will look on the other side.

The other organization has moved to Microsoft Teams – the person will get the message as normal in Microsoft Teams.

The other organization hasn’t moved to Microsoft Teams (this also applies even if the organization is using both Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business) – the person will get the message in Skype for Business. The tricky part about this is that the person must be online (remember that Skype for Business isn’t persistent?) – otherwise she/he will get an email about a missed message.

User is offline in Skype for Business

External user tagging

What happens if a person writes to you from Skype for Business and your organization has fully moved to Microsoft Teams? Well you will get the message in Microsoft Teams 😊! If you haven’t you will receive it in Skype for Business.

It will be clear if a person is an external user or not in the chat.

In external users in Microsoft Teams - part 2 I will have a look at adding a person in a team in Microsoft Teams, working in a team and show how that can affect the 1-2-1 chatting as well.

Note! Chatting with external people is really limited at the moment. When I'm writing this you can only add unformatted text and call.


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