Microsoft Teams. Pinning apps and applying policies

Image: Yammer Communities app in Teams screen on laptop
By Neil Hobson on

Microsoft Teams. Pinning apps and applying policies

In Microsoft Teams, users’ apps are pinned to the app bar. The app bar is shown down the left-hand side of the Teams desktop and web clients, and across the bottom in the Teams mobile client. The app bar is where users select apps such as Chat, Teams, Meetings and Calls.

Manually adding and pinning apps

The recent release of the new Yammer ‘Communities’ app for Teams serves to illustrate an excellent use-case for installing and pinning apps other than those you get by default with Teams.

The availability of apps to users depends on the policies configured by the administrators in the Teams admin centre. We will look at those policies later; for now, assume that the Communities app is available to users to install and pin.

To install and pin the Communities apps to the sidebar, a user can first select Apps from the sidebar and then search for the Communities app.

Image: Apps page in Teams screen shot

Clicking the app tile in the search window brings up the window to add the app for use by the individual user or add it to a team. Clicking ‘add’ installs the app for the user.

Image: Apps page in Teams add function screen shot

From there, the app is now available in the user’s sidebar. To make it always available in the sidebar, right-click the app and choose the ‘pin’ option from the context menu.

Image: How to pin an app in Teams screen shot

One benefit of doing this is that users may be frustrated at the need to switch between apps when actively and regularly using both Microsoft Teams and Yammer. In just a few simple steps, the user now has organisation-wide engagement capabilities via their Yammer communities without leaving the Teams app.

Automatically adding and pinning apps

Rather than telling users how to manually install apps or letting them figure it out for themselves, it is possible to push apps out to users via Teams apps setup policies. These are configured in the Teams admin centre.
By default, users will be assigned the global org-wide default Teams apps setup policy. While this default policy can be amended, additional policies can be created and assigned to specific users. Within the Teams apps setup policy, additional apps can be pushed out to users and pinned in the app bar. This is achieved using the Add apps button. In the example below, the Yammer Communities app has been added to a policy.

Image: pinned apps page

It is also possible to change the order of the apps in the users’ app bar via the Move up and Move down buttons.

Controlling app availability

Teams app permission policies can be used to control the apps available to users. The global org-wide default policy can be amended, or additional policies created and assigned to specific users. This type of policy controls the availability of Microsoft, third-party and tenant apps. These app types can be allowed or blocked, including options to allow specific apps and block all others, or block specific apps and allow all others.

Image: app permissions screen shot

Additionally, apps can be managed individually within the Teams admin centre by navigating to the tenant app catalog. This is found in the left-hand pane by selecting Teams apps and then Manage apps. Here, individual apps can be allowed or blocked as required. Note that Microsoft advises if apps are blocked here it will not be shown in the apps store to users even if the app permission policy allows it.

Within the Manage apps section of the Teams admin centre, there is also a link to the org-wide app settings, where controls are present for third party and custom apps at an organisation-wide level. These settings can be reviewed as part of app availability and permissions planning.

Microsoft positions Teams as the hub for teamwork in Office 365. Integrating apps into a shared workspace that includes Teams capabilities for chat, files and meetings provides powerful functionality. However, managing the availability of apps for users is an important consideration as some organisations may not want all types of apps available to users.

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Silversands is a Microsoft Gold Partner of over 30 years standing,  which specialises in Microsoft 365 delivered across cloud (Azure) and hybrid IT infrastructures. We provide consultancy, support and user adoption services.

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