Microsoft Teams: March 2021 Update: New features, New look

Posted on:  03/23/2021
Microsoft Teams: March 2021 Update: New features, New look

Microsoft Teams March 2021 update includes a few great features, most of them have to do with the New Look of Teams which not only brings a slight color scheme change, but also convenience and streamline enhancements.

If you recall, the previous versions of Teams had a kind of blue background. The new look features a lighter theme, still within the blue hues, but it's easier on the eyes, at least in my opinion. One example is the left sidebar which is now light background with blue icons:

The new look sidebar in Microsoft Teams

Make sure you have the latest version of Teams

Just to make sure you get the latest version, make sure you go to the top-right hand corner and check for updates. If you need to, update Teams and then restart it. I've had it in the past when simply singing out and singing in after an update didn't refresh everything so you need to actually quit Teams, from the bottom-right notification area in Windows, click the Teams icon and Quit. Then restart it and you should have the latest edition with the new look. The version I'm using in this video is 1.4.00.7174 from 3/18/2021.

How to quit Microsoft Teams to make sure the new version runs

Sometimes you have to quit Microsoft Teams instead of just signing out, in order to apply the updates

Back and forward buttons added

When I work in Teams during the day, I jump around to various areas, teams, sections, calendars, tabs, chat windows and so on. It can get hard to figure out where you are or where you've been. Now Teams added 'back' and 'forward' navigation arrows in the top-left corner of the window. 

Back and forward arrows in the new Teams interface

Teams has back and forward arrows to help with navigation through your history

Clicking these arrows moves you back and forward but if you don't want to click multiple times, you can just hover these arrows and Teams will show you a recent history of places you've been in Teams so you can just jump directly to them:

History back and forward quick jump in Microsoft Teams

Easy access to organizations you're part of

If you've been invited to various organizations, there used to be a drop-down next to your name and profile picture in Teams, so you can switch to other organizations. But now, that list has been moved inside the top-right menu, under 'Accounts & organizations'. Clicking this menu item will show a list of companies or organizations you're part of so you can easily switch between the organizations you're a member of.

Accounts and organizations in Teams has been moved under the profile menu

Accounts and organizations in Teams has been moved under the profile menu

Meetings and calendar integration with Outlook

You have the 'Meet now' button if you are in the calendar, on the top-right hand side. But if you're in Outlook on the desktop and you go to Calendar, the 'Meet now' button there is the same. 

Outlook Calendar Meet Now button

Meet Now button in Outlook Calendar has the same functionality as the Calendar view in Teams

Pre-meeting screen invite options

If you start a meeting, either from Teams 'Meet now' or Outlook 'Meet now', you get an 'Invite' pane after you choose your meeting options (such as microphone, camera, etc.).

This Invite pane allows you to invite other people to join your meeting, right before you start it.

  • You can copy the meeting link
  • Add participants by name or email
  • Send an invite via email, right from this start screen ahead of your meeting.
Pre-meeting invite screen

Invite others to your meeting right before starting your Teams meeting

Add online meeting to all meetings in Outlook automatically

If you're using Outlook for the desktop, you can start a meeting manually or from the calendar, but if you find that you want to add online meetings to all your calendar meetings, you had to do it manually.

To activate "Add online meeting to all meetings":

  1. Go to Outlook Options
  2. Switch to the Calendar Options group
  3. Tick the box next to "Add online meeting to all meetings"

As soon as you activate that, every meeting you schedule will have an online meeting request created for it automatically, so you won't have to click meeting every time.

Outlook Calendar option to Add online meting to all meetings

"Add online meeting to all meetings" is now an option in Outlook Calendar

Even if you have this option activated, suppose you have a meeting that you don't want to have an online meeting for, from the meeting invite screen, you can click "Settings" and "Don't Host Online", which will remove the online meeting invitation from your meeting.

Outlook Calendar New Meeting Turn off Teams Meeting

Make an exception from 'Always meet online' by switching off Teams Meeting when you schedule a new one in Outlook Calendar

Improved dark and high-contrast mode

Finally, with this new Microsoft Teams look, you also get updated themes for Dark and High contrast.

Dark mode and High contrast mode in Microsoft Teams

Dark mode and High contrast mode in Microsoft Teams have also changed slightly with the new look

Watch these updates demonstrated in my video below

And also, don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and visit my dedicated Microsoft Teams playlist where I have a lot of tutorials, tips and tricks and updates.

Related articles on Microsoft Teams

Chris Menard

Chris is a Training Specialist for a global law firm. Chris is certified in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Menard has a YouTube channel with other 600 technology videos covering Excel, Word, Zoom, Teams, Outlook, Gmail, Google Calendar, and other resources that over 7 million viewers have very appreciated. Because of Chris's certification and expertise with Microsoft, Chris is a proud member of Microsoft's Creator Team. Being a member of Microsoft's Creator Teams means many of his videos are available on Microsoft 365 YouTube channel and Microsoft support websites.

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