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Private chat to external user in teams without adding user

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Victoria Whitmore
Occasional Contributor

Hi I am wondering if anyone knows if you can start a private chat only with an external teams user like you can in Skype for business.  I do not want to add the user to my teams as it is not necessary but just want to be able to chat to them like you can currently in Skype for business.  Is this something that is available (if so I am having difficulty getting this to work) or is it just not available?  And if it isn't available is it something that is planned to be added in the future? 

 

Currently I can open a new chat and search for a user if they do not come up in my directory it adds them and puts External next to their name.  However when I try to message them it says there is an issue and try again later.  Funny thing is I can call the user and that works fine as well as screensharing.  

 

Screenshot provided. 

 

Any help / tips/ information is appreciated. 

51 Replies
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If that person is using Teams you can. Assuming your tenant and theirs has the latest presence updates on the back end as well. I'm able to message anyone in Teams that allows guest access / to message outside the organization. And with Free Teams out, long as those people setup a local tenant with their login, you should also be able to add them to a chat and message them as well I believe. Haven't tested that out yet, but it definitely works from tenant to tenant at least for me.
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Hi Chris,

We are both using the office 365 tenancy and have gone through all the guest settings and we both have it all set up for external communication I believe.

Thanks for allowing me to do a test with you as well. However, again it adds you in to my chat but will not send messages. Just get that same error.
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Solution
Maybe your tenant has not been fully updated to support it yet. I think they all are thou. I am on Teams only mode for myself not sure if that matters I’ll try to test with another user tomorrow when o get a chance and we can go from there. I’m assuming you already have contact groups on your chat tab and all that already?
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Curious to see your findings Chris, I have tested this a couple of times and it works in the way Victoria says...and I have my tenants on Targetet Release
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Hi Chris, that would be good.  Do you mean do i have them in the Teams application? If so then I already have the chat tab as well as the Activity, teams, meetings and files.  I don't have the contact groups though.  Screenshot provided. 

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Take a screenshot of you char tab if you can.
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Hi Chris, 

 

Please find attached screenshot of my chat tab. 

 

Kind Regards, 

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Ahh, yeah that's the issue you don't have contact groups, until those show up you won't be able to chat with other tenants. You'll see Recent / Contacts tabs at top there in the chat tab once it's available for your tenant. I figured they would have been 100% rolled out by now but I guess not!
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Both tenants have to have this for it to work too. My test tenant didn't have but my production did and I couldn't talk between them. Soon as test tenant got the updates I was able to chat between them without being a guest in the tenant.
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Ah okay yeah we must not have the update as yet. Well it is good to know that it is coming. I will wait for the update and then see how we go. Thank you very much for your help.

Kind Regards,
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Sure thing! One last thing, assuming your aren't on GCC or EDU tenant?
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No I don't think we are however I am not 100% sure.

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Well GCC is for government jobs, so if your not at a government place then probably not, EDU has assignment and all that stuff built into Teams and from screenshots I show nothing that shows that so you're probably on normal Teams just the updates aren't fully rolled out yet! hopefully for you soon, it's a great update!
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Yeah okay then no we are just the normal Tenancy, and yes looking forward to the update.

Thanks again.
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What happens if you try to chat with someone in an EDU tenant? Does that not work?

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Hello Christopher,

 

I have the contact groups in two differents tenants and I still can't chat between tenants.

 

@Victoria Whitmore, do you have the "contact groups" now ? Does the external chat works ?

 

Thank you

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We too are experiencing the same issue with the new tenants we spin up.   Is there any way to determine what 'release' the tenant is?  (e.g. Confirm that the tenant does not yet have the Federated Contacts feature)?

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we always got the following error message. External user and guest access are both enabled in our tenant.
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Hi,

I thought it had been sorted as I have the contact groups now, however, I can only chat to other tenants that have skype for business. So it is still going from Teams to SFB and vice versa rather from Teams to Teams. So it looks like you still cannot message external tenants when both are using teams.
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they are not getting it in teams because they don’t have their coexistence/ teams upgrade mode set to Teams Only. This is a requirement for the users or org you are trying to message if you want them to get the message in teams from an external user.
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If you can't directly chat with externals in Teams, there is a workaround
- create a Teams meeting
- you both attend the meeting (admit external in from the lobby)
- keep on chatting together, remember to pin the meeting discussion so it does not get hidden even if there isn't any activity
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Ah okay, I think we are still using hybrid as well which could be why so I might take a look at our settings and see if that works. Thanks for the tip.
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Thanks for the info I will definitely try this and see how we go. 

 

Kind Regards, 

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Chris,
I don't have a Teams Only option when I look at my Teams coexistence settings. It was blank by default (created tenant within the last week) and the two options that exist are:
Islands
Skype for Business Only

Which mode do I need to set? Also, I only have external access set to On but don't have any Guest Access set to Off. Is it required to have both turned on for org to org teams chat?
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No. It should not be required. Check out this blog for checking and setting Teams Only mode. https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=964935154644849254#editor/target=post;postID=49347059729526...
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Thanks Chris,

I contacted MS support and will report back when we figure out what my particular problem is with external chat.

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are you sure the issue isn't the person your testing with? If you are Teams Only mode, then you can send from Teams by clicking new chat and you can test with turismon@webbtech.org to see if you can chat with that (my test tenant).

Otherwise if you're not, then you can try from your Skype client.
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I'm not sure but he is a very competent admin and it doesn't seem like there is too many settings to mess up.  I am using teams only mode and tried sending you a test message, the screenshot is the result.  It's the same result as the other external user I tried to message.  I did have the other users domain in my allow list, but for testing I removed it which from what I understand should allow external communication with any domain.  

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Having the same issue over here.  I'm admin of both tenants, I've added the external domains to be allowed in the org-wide settings on both tenants, but I can't really communicate.  My situation is as follows:

 

Main Tenant (W) - hybrid setup, Islands mode, my laptop I am using is joined to this domain, and I have the Teams app and the Skype app set to this domain.

 

Secondary Tenant (I) - all cloud tenant, Islands mode, using web app on my (W) laptop in a private tab to test.

 

When I send a message from the I account using the web app to the W account, the message shows up in my Skype application.  When I send a message from the W account using the Teams app to the I account, it just says an "This user is unavailable or offline. We've sent an email instead".  I receive the same behavior when I attempt to test using the mobile app on two phones.

 

Is it accurate that both tenants need to be Teams Only to make this work?  Or what am I missing?

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I’m going to assume your I account is a guest on your W tenant. If this is the case then you need to reach out via fed(external) chat instead of guest chat. You will get the (search externally for) option.
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@jameskCAApparently the 'Teams only' option started rolling out around last June (2018).  We only got it a couple of weeks ago though so it's obviously a slow rollout.

We're having the same issue as others.  In our situation, our global setting is Island Mode (Skype or Teams), but I've been changing a few individual users to 'Teams only' each day.  Those set to 'Teams only' seem to be having trouble messaging external 'Teams only' users.  I'm currently experimenting with reverting users to Island mode and adding the specific external users as guests to AAD.

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You should troubleshoot the issue instead of adding guests. Unless there is s need to have them on teams. Otherwise those external users are going to have to tenant switch to chat with your users in Teams.

Teams only had been around for a long time it just recently showed up in the GUI.
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@Chris Webb  Hi Chris - I've got a ticket open with Microsoft and they're saying that there is a general problem with Teams to Teams external chat at the moment.  Their suggested remedy is to add the external user's domain to Allowed Domains list, even if you allow your users to contact any external domain.

I'm surprised Microsoft haven't logged an advisory or incident in Service Health as there's clearly wider issues.

With regards adding users as guests, I've added them as Guests to AAD (using their own email address), not Teams.  As far as I'm aware this doesn't give them access to anything in our domain, but is supposed to be another workaround to the Teams messaging issue.  If you see problems with this approach, please shout as none of this is helping our adoption of Teams!

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Access isn’t the issue with adding as a guest. Adding them as a guest to your tenant will most likely add them as a contact that you can chat with in Teams. Doing as such will require them to switch their tenant in their client every time they want to chat with you which currently isn’t ideal and you run the risk of missing notifications during that transition between tenants.

Unless someone needs access to resources in your tenant or included as part of the Team you don’t want them in as a guest for Teams chat you’ll want to get external chat working.

Thanks for the info on the issue.
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@Oz Oscroft 

Do you have any update on your ticket with microsoft

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@Ronald Meer  We've got it working ... but not quite as hoped!  For external chat, I've removed those users who I'd set up as Guests (as recommended by @Chris Webb, thanks), added their domains through the Teams Admin Center (Org-wide settings > External access) and the external chat works - hurrah!

 

I want to set our organisation up so that external chat works with any domain, but now I've got it working, I'm reticent to remove all the domains I've added to test it (if you don't add any domains then it should allow external chat with everyone, but as soon as you add the first domain it will block all others).

 

The issues seemed to only be for external chat between 2 organisations both using Teams.  Teams to Skype worked fine.  I will take the plunge and try removing all the domains at some point, but not just yet.

 

Hope this helps, Oz

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We are a MS Partner and have many orgs that we have Teams setup.  I'm seeing a very odd situation and wonder if anyone can shed some light.

 

In one tenant, I have successfully been able to chat Teams to Teams cross tenant with ONE person.  Everyone else in the Tenant tries to go from Teams to SFB.  I get the little S icon next to them that says xxx@xxx.com is outside your organization.  Some Teams features won't be available.  

 

From what I can tell, both tenants have the latest updates and we have external access set to on in both.  Both their tenant and ours are set to Islands only, but it's very odd that just for this single user we are successful, but with all the others it doesn't work.  The only variable here is that we recently changed her last name and Email/AD account etc.  We are in an AD Connect environment using an AD hosted on Azure (VM) if that matters on their tenant, but not on ours. 

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Your tenant wide coexistence policy could be set to islands but that sole user might be set to teams only! Check if this is the case:

Teams admin center - users - that user - check for the policy set
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@adam deltinger  Both were set to Org-Wide and the the org setting was Islands.

 

I just tested the option of setting both my user and the a user in the other tenant to Teams Only and now I can send teams to teams back and forth, but the S icon and external alert is still there.

 

But the really odd thing is that user that it already worked on is acting even more odd.  There is NO S icon or external message on her and I can even share my screen with her.  Ideally, I would really like to have the sharing function.  I'm guessing MS just hasn't ironed all this out just yet.

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Na, in this case I bet this one user is a guest in your tenant. This would be Teams to Teams, where as everyone else is being treated as an external chat which shows Skype and will be that way till Native Teams comes out. When chatting with the person that works, enter their whole Sip address and select "Search externally" even thou they are showing up and I bet they will then show as Skype for Business like the others.
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Yeah, Tom, that user is a guest in your org so your getting the full experience. IF you were to add one of the others as a guest you could do the same. Try as my above post and you'll see what I mean.

When chatting with the one that is using Teams to Teams, pretty sure it will say guest in their name?
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@Chris Webb okay, that makes sense and I just verified that with a user I know is a guest in our tenant (he's in one of our teams we just created).  I have full teams functions with him.

 

But....  And like I said this seems kinda nuts.  The original user that worked TtoT is NOT a guest in our tenant, but I am a guest in their's.   It's perplexing, but your explanation does make sense.  

 

Here's another oddity...  The user I verified that IS a guest to backup your answer has even more options.  He has that + icon for adding more participants to a chat, where the other one that originally worked doesn't.  I'm attaching the icons for both to show the difference.

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The guest using having the + to add more is expected for guest users. They are having to switch to your tenant to chat which gives them full chat functionality.

The other one missing the + and not a guest of your tenant, is going to be one of two things.
1. That person was invited to a meeting to your tenant, and might be able to get a bit more featured chat functionality.
2. Native Teams to Teams is rolling out and your seeing some of that come through with that user.

Not so sure 2. has started yet, so it's possible maybe there is something there with a Teams meeting allowing that chat?

Anyway, going to be one of those two things if in deed that use isn't a guest in your tenant.
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I actually had a experience a few month back! I started a teams chat with an external user which was received in His Teams! I was in islands mode by that time! We also had the full chat experience (gifs, emojis etc) not guest in either tenant! I thought I was crazy and next day it worked like expected aka teams to Skype and limited chat
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@Chris Webb yeah - I'm guessing it's #2 and if so, it looks like they're getting better.  Now I just need that multi-tenant function they're working on...

 

https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/17750851-i-want-to-use-multipl...

 

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@I've experienced the same issue for years now. We were able to communicate with our customers via Skype for Business with no problem. But when we moved to Teams, it's either one-way communication or it just doesn't work. 

 

Initially, we just let it ride because we still had Skype, but now that we are fully on-boarded to Teams, it's become more of an issue.

 

The one thing that always works is the web version of Teams. 

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Well the reason it didn't work is because you still had and used skype :P. You can't external chat properly in island modes, all your fed chat will come back to Skype hence the One-Way.
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@Chris Webb Negative. 

 

Documentation states they can co-exist. Additionally, the same message goes through when using the Teams Online (web version) interface.

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