I have heard from various people, in various situations, that they would love to have a feature for Microsoft Teams that would allow them to reply to a message – but the reply would be sent later. That capability has in fact been there since last autumn, but it is now easier to add than ever. Yes – you have to add it yourself. Let’s go through the needed steps how to add this one.
Note: you need to have Public Preview on for this and even when it is on the + Create new action sometimes doesn’t appear there. Just try again after a few minutes – sometimes quitting and restating Teams brings this back to the menu. All these tells that this feature is still in preview and it will work better once it launches to production.
Choose a message you want to reply to
This is something you need to do only once – you choose the message you want to reply to later and click on (1) … menu on top right corner of the message, then you choose (2) More actions and finally (3) + Create a new action
Activate delayed reply
What you are in-fact doing is that you are adding a new Power Automate Flow (or actions)- but since this is so simple to add we can call it activating the action. What is shown here are easy-to-use templates how to create productivity actions that will help you in your daily work.
To find the Delayed reply you must scroll down a bit or use search.
As can be seen there is also an option to See more templates. There are lots of very useful templates to check out – especially when you want to share a message to Yammer, create a new Jira issue or add a task to Todoist. These show really the superpower of Microsoft Teams here: you can integrate Teams with other applications and solutions to avoid manually adding tasks to other systems – but you could just add yourself an action easily by using these templates and automate your routine work and reduce jumping between systems.
All actions in that list are based on a single message to which you want to create an action. If the list gets too long in the future, search may be a good way to find the action you want. This time we get back to the Delayed Reply to finally write the message.
After clicking on Delayed Reply we get the next dialogue where we can give that action a name (Flow name in the dialogue) and we ensure we have connection to Teams. That is usually ok when using adding an action.
After a new moments the connection to Teams is confirmed and Continue activates.
Since Delayed reply is a good name we keep that and hit Continue.
And yes – we need one more Click to Create flow (=action)
And.. that’s it! We just created a new action (automation) to Teams! This is so simple so that is why I call this just activating. We can even run the action right from the dialogue with Run flow
When we run the flow we get
Using this Create new action enables us to
- Create a new custom action
- After creating it we can use it immediately with the message we had selected
- We can keep on reusing the action
After hitting Submit we can see the reply appearing 20 minutes later.
We can see the new action Delayed Reply when we choose as message in any team or standard channel we are in. This is created as your personal action. (yes, you can share because sharing makes your the superhero!)
Modifying the action
Yes, you can modify the action. For that you need to open Power Automate -application in Teams (Or navigate to Power Automate tool/site in Microsoft 365 – but the app is a lot easier for these changes).
Click on Delayed reply
Click on Edit on top left to see action’s (flow) contents
These action has three parts
- Trigger that also contains Adaptive card where you enter delay time and the message for reply
- A delay timer that waits for given minutes
- Microsoft Teams Post action that writes a reply to the message
To edit the dialogue that opens you click open “For a selected message”
Click on “Edit Adaptive Card”. And if you have been using Teams in Dark mode like I did when taking these screenshots then you need to go and change Teams to normal (light) mode and reopen Power Automate application and navigate back to editing. I wish they would fix that Dark mode issue. So here is the flow in light mode.
Click on Edit Adaptive Card.
Here you can see lots of content, but what interests us is the timer: what you want to edit is the values when the reply is posted. Click on the area where those values are
Look in bottom right, in Choices, for the list of pairs: text and value
It is here where you can edit old values, remove some or even add new ones. Just remember that the value on right is always in minutes. What is written on the left column (like 1 hour later) is just to make it friendly for user.
Let’s change that 20 minutes to 5 minutes. (we are quick to go to lunch!)
After this one don’t forget to click on Save card.
And in this dialogue you also need to hit Save, so your changes are saved to the flow.
When we test it, by activating Delayed reply we can see the change is in place!
Becoming a Superhero by sharing cool actions to others
Not everyone needs to create these actions by themselves. A team or organization who sees value that Delayed reply (or any other automation / action!) is so useful that everyone could use it can just do that.
Who created the flow (assuming you, since you are reading it) navigates to Power Automate application again and goes to view the flow/action by clicking it’s name.
When the flow is open look for the right-part where it says Owners and Run only users
You enable this to others by clicking Edit on Run only users.
Just enter names or people or groups (team names are good!) to enable this action to the group of people!
In this example I give the power to create Delayed replies to everyone in the team called Platform Company
And keep the Connections used as “Provided by run-only user” to make sure that activating person’s identity is used. You don’t want them to use your name after all..
When you are ready, just click on Save.
Owners let your specify more owners to the flow, so that they could also edit it and assign more Run only users to it. When you share your flow you should add at least one co-owner to it so either of you can do changes if the other is absent.
And now every member, who is in that team Platform Company, can use the same action!
But before you think you are done, you need to educate users that they need to approve the use of that flow. This is because it is running using their identity when they activate it (otherwise those replies would come from you). These two screens only appear once to the user, so once they have consented the use they don’t have to do it again unless there are new connections in the flow.
Users do get yet another screen – so it is good to tell them what to expect
And then they finally can write their reply.
This new way to start creating new actions to Microsoft Teams messages is extremely easy to get started and it is easy to guide users how to start adding their actions – and when they need to they can start even making small changes. That means they are already taking steps into becoming Power Users and Superheros, especially when they share the useful actions with others!
It is a small step for a user, but a giant leap for team productivity!
There are of course several other options you can do with that “For a selected message” action. Creating new actions to Teams has never been easier!