Sending and Reading Messages in Slack

Send and read messages

In Slack, conversations happen in channels and direct messages (DMs). To start and join conversations, learn how to send and read messages.

Write and send messages

There are two ways to start writing new messages in Slack:

  • Use the  compose button
  • Type a message in the message field of any channel or direct message.

Create a message from the compose button

  1. From anywhere in Slack, click the compose button next to your workspace name in the top left.
  2. Type the name of a person (up to eight) or channel in the To: field.
  3. Type and format your message in the message field.
  4. Click the paper plane icon to send your message.

Type a message the message field

  1. Click the message field in a channel or direct message.
  2. Type and format your message.
  3. Press Enter to send it.

Add to your message

As you're writing, use the icons below to add to your message:

Select a shortcut (lightning bolt icon)
Format your message (bold, italics, strikethrough, three dots for more options)
Mention someone (the @ symbol)
Add an emoji (smiley face)
Add a file (paperclip icon)

Note:If at any point you’re not ready to send your message, it will save as a draft so you can come back to it later. Read more about drafts below.

Create and edit drafts

If you start writing a message and do not send it, it will automatically save as a draft. Use the information below to help you access your draft messages. 



Click Drafts in the left sidebar to view all your drafted messages. Hover over any message for more options:

Delete draft
Edit draft
Send message

Tip:If there is an unsent message in a conversation, you’ll see a  pencil icon next to the channel name or direct message in the left sidebar.

Read messages

If a channel or direct message name is bolded in your channel list, that means there are unread messages. You can click the bolded channel or direct message to open the conversation and view unread messages.

Decide how Slack manages read messages

Messages in Slack will be marked as read soon after you open a channel or direct message. If you’d like, you can change this preference.

Mark messages as unread

If you need to come back to a message later, you can mark it as unread.



  1. Hover over the oldest message you’d like to mark as unread.
  2. Click the three dots icon
  3. Click Mark unread. The selected message, and any others sent after it, will be marked unread.

Tip: You can also hold Alt and click a message to mark that message and any others sent after it as unread.

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