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Quick Start Guide to Collaboration Tools

Simple answers to basic questions about Slack, Zoom, Google Docs, and Cardinal Voice Softphone

Stanford Slack

Stanford Slack is your go-to instant messaging tool to communicate with university faculty, students, and staff. You can chat in real-time or communicate asynchronously, meaning you can post messages and recipients can respond back when they’re available.

I’m ready to take the first step. How do I join Slack?
You’ll need to either download and install the Slack app or launch Slack from your web browser. From there, follow these easy steps to get started.
I've noticed many of my colleagues have a Slack profile. Is it easy to set one up?

A profile takes only a few minutes to complete and lets others know who you are and what you do at Stanford.  To set up your profile from the desktop application, click on your workspace name and select View Profile.   

  • Add the information you want to include. Consider uploading a photo to help others identify your messages easily.
  • When you're done, click Save Changes. 
How do I edit my status – and why would I want to?

Updating your status lets people know when you’re out sick, on vacation, working from a different location, or even at lunch. Putting this information in your status instead of posting it in the channel keeps the channel noise down.

  • To set your status, click on your workplace name and select Edit status.
  • Select the appropriate icon and click Save.
  • Then click Clear After and select the time period after which the status will disappear.
What’s a workspace and how do I join one?

A workspace is a shared information hub for a closed group of people. It’s made up of channels, where members can collaborate and work together. You can join more than one workspace. Start by exploring workspaces at Stanford. Try entering the email address of one of your colleagues in the search box to see what workspaces Slack recommends you join. If you don't have a local workspace, you can join the Welcome to Slack Grid workspace.

Some workspaces require you to be invited before you can join. If that's the case, you can reach out to your local Slack workspace admin about getting an invite. When you join a workspace, you’ll automatically become a member of one or more default channels on that workspace.

What’s a channel and how do I find the ones related to my work and interests?

A channel is a place for topic-centered discussions for a project, team, topic, or anything.  One important channel you may see after joining a workspace is #general or #announcement. This is typically a channel for team-wide communication. 

Some channels are public and open to everyone at Stanford. Others are private, meaning only members of that channel can view the content. To explore all the channels at Stanford that are available for you to join, go to the Slack sidebar and click Channels.

After you join a channel, you can scroll up to see all the conversations that have happened so far. When you have something to add, you can send a message to the channel.

What's the best way to format a message in Slack?
You can format your messages using the formatting toolbar. You’ll see options to add bold, italics, and strikethrough. You can also create a numbered or bulleted list or indent a quote. If you don’t see the toolbar on your interface, click the text icon in the bottom right corner of the message box.
Can I edit or delete my messages after I've sent them?

Mistakes happen and Slack makes it easy for you to change or remove your messages – even after you’ve sent them. To do this, simply hover your cursor over the message you want to change and click the three dots icon.

  • Select Edit to revise the message and click Save Changes to finish.
  • Select Delete to delete the message, and then click Delete again to confirm.
How do I use emojis in Slack?

Emojis can be used as a great substitute for a brief message. To respond with an emoji, hover over the message, then click the smiley face icon to open the emoji menu. Select the emoji you want to use.

Here are a few emojis and how they’re commonly used:
  • Raised hands emoji :raised_hands: - "thank you"
  • Thumbs up emoji :thumbsup: - "I agree" or "got it"
  • Clap emoji :clap: - "well-done"
  • Tada emoji :tada: - "congrats"
  • Dart emoji :dart: -"nailed it"
Where can I find more information about Slack?


Stanford Zoom allows you to create and participate in meetings any time, anywhere. With Zoom’s modern video communication platform, you can collaborate effectively while working remotely.

How do I schedule a Zoom meeting from my desktop client?

After downloading the Zoom desktop client for your computer or mobile device and logging in for the first time, you’ll want to open up the client and sign in.

  • Click on the Schedule icon to open the scheduler window and Select your meeting settings.
    • Select a start date and time for your meeting. ​
    • Enter a topic name for your meeting.​
    • Choose the duration of your meeting.​
    • Choose if you would like a recurring meeting.​
    • Choose if you would like your video on or off when joining the meeting.​
    • Choose whether you allow meeting participants to call in via Telephone only, Computer Audio only, or Both.
      Tip: selecting both is recommended.
    • Select to which calendar you would like it to appear.
  • Click Schedule to finish, and open your calendar to add the meeting and invite attendees.

Learn more about scheduling meetings with Zoom.

How do I schedule a Zoom meeting with my Outlook calendar?

For a more seamless scheduling experience, you may want to consider downloading the Outlook plug-in so you can embed Zoom meeting information directly into the location field and body of your Outlook meeting invite. 

  • Click the Add a Zoom Meeting button. This will populate the location field and body of your Outlook meeting invite with the meeting URL, phone numbers, and Meeting ID.
  • Click the Settings icon to modify any additional details like video and audio.
  • Modify your meeting subject, invite attendees, and click Send.
How do I join someone else’s Zoom meeting?

To join a meeting that someone else has created, you have a few options. You can join through an email invite, from the Zoom desktop and mobile clients, or from the browser.  You can also call in from a landline or mobile phone. The easiest ways to join are from an email invite or the Zoom client on your computer.

  • Joining a meeting from a Zoom client on your computer
    • Click the join link in the body of the calendar invitation.
    • Depending on your default web browser, you may be prompted to open Zoom.​
  • Joining a meeting from a Zoom client on your computer
    • Open the Zoom desktop client.
    • Click Join a Meeting or sign into Zoom and click Join.
    • Enter the meeting ID number and your display name.
    • Select if you would like to connect audio and/or video and click Join. 
How do I connect to audio?

After joining or starting a meeting, you can join audio by phone or by computer.

  • Choose Join Audio by Computer to connect your computer’s speaker and microphone to the Zoom meeting. 
  • You can test your audio connection before joining by clicking the Test Computer Audio link.
How do I start and stop my video?

Using the video option significantly enhances your Zoom meeting experience and is a best practice.

  • Before or during a meeting, click Settings in the Zoom app menu.
  • Click on the Video tab to preview your camera or click the drop-down arrow to choose a different camera.
  • During a meeting, click Video in the meeting toolbar to start or stop your video.
How do I use the chat feature in Zoom? ​

Using the chat feature in Zoom enables you to communicate with other participants during a meeting. This can be especially helpful if your Zoom meeting is in full-screen mode and you cannot easily access your Slack application or other chat feature.

  • Click Chat to instant message with other participants while in the meeting.
  • In the Chat panel, click the dropdown to select whether you want the message to go to everyone in the meeting or a single participant.
How do I mute and unmute myself during a meeting?

Generally, you will want to mute yourself during a meeting that has more than a handful of participants to limit background noise from interfering with the quality of the audio. You can unmute yourself if you would like to present or ask a question. 

  • You can easily mute or unmute yourself during a meeting by clicking Mute (microphone icon) in the lower-left corner of your Zoom meeting window. 
  • Tip: If you want to change the microphone input or output settings, click on the upward-facing arrow next to the Mute icon.  ​
How do I share my screen during a Zoom meeting? ​

Sharing your screen on Zoom enables you to present a slideshow, share a website, review a document, and more.

  • Select Share Screen located in your meeting toolbar, and choose to share your desktop, an individual application/window, or start a whiteboard.
  • Select Share computer sound or Optimize Screen Share for Video Clip if you will be sharing any audio or video.  
  • Select Stop Share to end your session or allow others in the meeting to share their screen as well.
  • During your screen share, you can select Annotate for drawing, pointing, etc.
  • Any attendee in your meeting can start annotating on a shared screen. The attendee can access Annotate in the upper meeting toolbar.
Where can I find more information on Zoom and Video Conferencing?

Google Docs

Stanford Google Drive enables you to create Google Docs right in your web browser; no special software is needed. Everyone can work together in the same document at the same time. And don’t worry about hitting “save” – all changes are automatically saved as you type.

How do I create a new Google Doc?

From Google Drive, select New, then choose the type of file you want to create. Your new file will appear as a tab in your browser.  

  • Locate and select Untitled document in the upper-left corner.
  • The Rename dialog box will appear.
  • Type a name for your file. 
  • Your file will be renamed. You can access it at any time from your Google Drive, where it will be saved automatically. Simply double-click to open the file again.
I'd like to collaborate with others. How do I give them access to view or edit my Google Doc?

Open the file you want to share in Google Docs and click Share in the upper right corner. You’ll see the Share with others box. You can then choose one of the two methods described below.

  • Share with specific people
    • Under People, enter the email address of the person or people you want to share with. 
    • ​To choose what others can do with the file, click the Down arrow.
    • Click Done.
    • The people you shared with will get an email letting them know you've shared a file.
  • Create a shareable link that anyone at Stanford University can use
    • At top right, click Get a shareable link.
    • To choose whether a person can view, comment, or edit the file, click the down arrow next to Anyone at Stanford University with the link can edit.
    • Click Copy link and then click Done.
    • Copy and paste the link into a Slack message, email,  or anywhere you want to share it.

Note: While sharing files is foundational to collaboration, you should only share with the minimum number of individuals necessary. Do not use a shareable link if you are sharing sensitive information. Consult the File Storage Security website for more information about sharing files securely.

How do I edit a Google Doc that someone has shared with me?
Open the file you want to edit and click Editing in the upper right corner. You can then select how you want your edits to appear.
I see the option to edit in Suggesting mode. What does that mean?

Suggesting mode enables anyone who can edit the document to suggest edits to the document owner. If you’re editing in Suggesting mode, you’ll see your changes in a new color. Anything you delete will be crossed out. When you're done, the owner of the file will get an email about your suggestions and can decide whether to keep them.

You'll see the Suggesting mode option when you open the file you and click Editing in the upper right corner. 

How do I add comments to a Google Doc?

To add comments, open the Google Doc and highlight the text you want to comment on.

  • In the toolbar, click +.
  • Type your comment and click Comment to finish.
How do I reply to or resolve comments?

To reply to a comment, click on the comment you want to reply to.

  • Click Reply and type in your reply.
  • To finish, click Reply
  • To close a comment, click Resolve in the top corner of the comment.
How do I download a Google Doc?

From the top menu, click File and then select Download. Choose a file type. The file will download onto your computer.

Where can I find more information about using Google Docs and other Google collaboration tools?


Cardinal Voice Softphone

Cardinal Voice Softphone powered by Webex, lets you use your computer to place and receive your Stanford business calls. With a variety of features including telephone, contact lists, presence, and more, you’ll wonder how you ever communicated without it.

How do I download Cardinal Voice Softphone?
If you would like to use Cardinal Voice Softphone to place Stanford business calls, follow the download instructions on this page. If you have tried to download Cardinal Voice Softphone and are having issues logging in, please submit a Help request.
Where can I learn more about using Cardinal Voice Softphone?
For quick tips take a look at the Webex Cheat Sheet.

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Have other questions you'd like answered on this guide? Let us know and we'll add them. You can also find more resources for working remotely on the Stanford Work Anywhere website