U-M Slack Updates

Introducing canvases, a new way to collaborate in U-M Slack


Slack has announced a new tool to help you collaborate and share information within channels and direct messages called “canvases.” Slack canvases can act as a persistent hub for all the important information and links members need for a specific channel or direct message (as compared to using bookmarks or pinned messages). They can also be used for jotting down quick notes or personal reminders to just yourself.

Important: Slack canvases are NOT related to U-M Canvas or the Canvas LMS. Slack canvases are an unrelated feature in U-M Slack only.

Example of a user clicking to create a new canvas in Slack, then proceeds to scroll down and add content like headers, checklists, videos, and workflows.

Use canvases for:

  • Channel-specific information (e.g., collecting links, FYIs, etc.)
  • Brainstorming (e.g., during Huddles)
  • Replacing the Slack Posts feature

If you currently use the Slack Posts feature, all existing posts will eventually be converted to canvases, and all of your content will be saved. (Note that this is not the same as a Slack message. It is an additional feature found under the plus sign (+) icon in your message field, and it will be going away soon.)

Do not use canvases for:

  • Long-term documentation
  • Sensitive data
  • Information that you need to export from Slack

Important: Slack does not allow individuals to export canvases. If the information may need to leave Slack in the future, we recommend using a Google Doc instead.

Refer to What is a Slack Canvas? to learn more about using canvases in U-M Slack. The article includes information on sharing/permissions and ownership, current limitations, accessibility, and links to other useful resources.

According to Slack, this feature should begin rolling out to U-M Slack on June 20, 2023, and could take several days or longer to become fully visible.

U-M Slack March Summary of New Features


In an effort to bring you the latest on new features and functionalities, we will be introducing service-specific summaries for Slack, similar to what we currently offer for U-M Google. These summaries, however, will not be posted on a monthly basis like Google’s, as Slack updates less frequently.


Slack announced they will be making adjustments to and combining your “saved items” and “reminders” into a new sidebar view called “Later.” The changes include: 

  • New name: In your sidebar, “Saved items” is now called “Later.”
  • New ways to organize your to-do list: Your saved items are now broken up into three tabs: In progress, Archived, and Completed to help you differentiate your work. (Note that any previously saved items will appear in the Archived tab but can be re-sorted to other tabs.)
  • New location for personal reminders: Any reminders you’ve set for yourself now appear alongside other items in the new In progress tab, where you can mark them as complete or change the reminder’s timeframe. (Note that channel reminders and recurring reminders will only be visible using /remind list and will not appear in Later.)

These changes are rolling out gradually starting in March and may take a while before they’re fully visible to everyone in U-M Slack.

  • Once you’ve joined 30 channels in a workspace, your sidebar settings will switch to Unreads only. You can change this via the Sidebar section in your Preferences. This change is rolling out gradually starting in March and may take a while before it’s fully visible to everyone in U-M Slack.
  • When adding an emoji with multiple people, you can right-click to customize the skin tone of each person. (Note that this does not apply to custom emojis.)

Handshake emoji in Slack with options to set the skin tone of each hand

Last October, Slack added a bunch of new features to huddles. These additions include the ability to:

  • Turn on video
  • Open a huddle in a new pop-out window
  • Start a dedicated message thread for notes that automatically saves to the channel or direct message conversation
  • Have multiple people share their screens at once
  • Set a topic and pick a custom background
  • Use emojis, reactions, and stickers

Learn more about using these features and others in Slack huddles.

User selects the toggle switch to start a Slack huddle and proceeds to turn on their video and open it in a new window.

  • Add additional people to direct messages

You can include conversation history when adding people to an existing direct message or group conversation. Previously, conversation history wasn’t preserved.

Previously Communicated:

New "Channel Manager" role in U-M Slack


Slack has introduced a new channel-level role known as “Channel Manager.” Whenever someone creates a new channel (public, private, multi-workspace, or Slack Connect), they are automatically assigned the Channel Manager role for that channel. Channel Managers can take administrative actions on channels to which they're assigned, including:

Note: Channel Managers must be members of the channel. Workspace Admins also have the ability to add or remove Channel Managers.

All existing channels in U-M Slack workspaces have had the Channel Manager role retroactively assigned to those who created them. You can view who the Channel Managers are for a specific channel by clicking the channel name drop-down, opening the About tab, and looking under the “Managed by” section.

Refer to the Slack Help Center for more information on Channel Managers. This feature is now available in U-M Slack.

New sidebar design for U-M Slack


Slack has announced changes to the look and feel of your sidebar in U-M Slack. The changes are as follows:

  • Removal of Slack Connect and multi-workspace channel icons. You'll notice fewer icons in your sidebar, and you will now have to hover over a channel name to see if it's a Slack Connect channel or a multi-workspace channel.
  • Color change to notification badges. The red notification badges in Slack’s default theme have been replaced with a more subtle white color to catch your attention without demanding it. (i.e., the notification badges are no longer red.)

Note: You can change your notification badges back to red from your Slack preferences under Themes > Colors > Mention Badge > enter #FF0000.

  • Alignment adjustments. Channels and headers will now be aligned in your sidebar at any screen size.

Before and after of the new Slack sidebar design

According to Slack, this update should have begun to gradually roll out to U-M Slack at the beginning of June, but there is no estimated date for when it will become fully visible to everyone.