Microsoft Teams is much more than just video conference tool. Although many users have experience using the platform only to make video calls when in-person meetings are not possible, Microsoft Teams is really about creating opportunities for collaboration.
As a result, it comes with a huge list of features (with more being added all the time), designed to boost productivity and allow more than one hybrid approach to work. One of the ways Teams encourages this is through its whiteboard feature.
The whiteboard gives employees the ability to take notes, make connections between different concepts, and generally share ideas as if they were working with pen and paper. In theory, this should make things much faster than having to type things out formally – and for some employees it will simply represent a way of working they prefer or are more familiar with.
With the whiteboard, it’s possible to visually brainstorm with your colleagues, which can turn a standard video call into a live collaboration session. It’s also fully integrated with Teams so you can launch Whiteboard anytime during a call. You can also share a whiteboard creation on almost any device, including tablets, smartphones, and desktop computers. And you don’t have to worry about backing up your creations or trying to find them after the meeting is over. All your whiteboard sessions are automatically saved in the cloud.
Although Whiteboard is a free app available to anyone with a Microsoft account, a Microsoft 365 subscription – Microsoft 365 Business Basic and above or one of the Microsoft 365 Enterprise plans – will be required to get the most out of its collaborative potential. Below, we’ve created a handy guide that will show you how to access and use Whiteboard alongside Microsoft Teams.
Step One: Enable Microsoft Whiteboard
Before you can start using Microsoft Whiteboard, you need to make sure it’s enabled for your organization. To do this, first go to Microsoft Teams admin center. Then click on “Settings” and select “Services and add-ins”. Scroll down to where it says “Whiteboard” and toggle “Turn whiteboard on or off for your entire organization”, depending on whether you want to turn the feature on or off. Then click “Save”.
Step Two: Share a Whiteboard
Once Whiteboard is enabled, accessing it in a Teams meeting is simple. After joining a meeting, simply select the “Share” icon in the share bar, then select “Microsoft Whiteboard” in the whiteboard section. This will start the whiteboard canvas. After launching the canvas, everyone in your Teams meeting will have access – and the same whiteboard will be available simultaneously on the web app, Windows 10 and iOS versions of the standalone whiteboard app.
Third step: use the whiteboard
Once the whiteboard canvas is loaded, anyone in the Teams meeting can add items to it. If they want to write like they’re jotting things down with pen and paper, they need to click the pen icon, pick a color, and start adding to the board. If they prefer to add text, select the Note or Text icons and start typing.
It should be noted that nothing you add to the array is fixed. The Whiteboard feature is supposed to facilitate smooth real-time collaboration. So, if you need to move an element or modify it, these features are all very intuitive. Moreover, you can easily find out who created or modified any whiteboard content. For non-text elements, hover over the object to see: “Created by” and “Last modified by” information. For typed content, move the mouse over the filled rectangle that appears above the text.
If the features available from the version of the whiteboard that appears natively in a Teams meeting don’t meet your needs, you may find that they’re available through the standalone Microsoft Whiteboard app. Although Microsoft is trying to bring parity to all of its versions of Whiteboard, you can check out the version of the app available outside of a Teams meeting to see if it’s a better fit for you. And the best thing is that any edits you make using the standalone app will simultaneously appear on the whiteboard being edited in the Teams meeting.
Step 4: Access a whiteboard after a call
Once a Teams meeting is over, it doesn’t mean an organization is done discussing or working on a particular topic. With that in mind, any whiteboard you used during a Teams call will remain available to all participants of that call through the Teams meeting chat via a tab called “Whiteboard”. The same whiteboard can also be accessed using the Board Gallery in the Microsoft Whiteboard apps for Windows 10 and iOS.
Step Five: Close and Delete Your Whiteboard
Maybe a particular project was put on hold or ended completely – in which case you might not have any use for some of the whiteboards you shared. If so, Teams users have several options. They can temporarily close a whiteboard that they want to use again later by clicking “Stop Sharing” in the upper right corner. This will close the whiteboard but it can be reopened by visiting the content list or recent content and clicking on the appropriate whiteboard.
If, on the other hand, you want to permanently delete a whiteboard, you need to click on the down arrow at the top of the scene, click on the arrow next to the whiteboard you want to delete, then select “Delete from the meeting.