Teams Chat - Guest vs External

Brass Contributor

We find that Teams Chat to External users of another tenancy Teams (using their full email name) notifies them within their Teams that there is an incoming message and allows them to participate in a text-only conversation. The recipient is logged into their 'home' Teams and doesn't need to do anything else, or switch to the senders Tenancy.


If a Teams Chat is sent to a Guest user, who is logged into their 'home' Teams (and not the senders Teams tenancy) they get no notification. 


This is not the expected behaviour. Adding someone to a Channel automatically creates a Guest, and we are having to tell our users to ignore the suggested Guest account when trying to start a Chat and instead type in the full email name to send the message to an External account if they want their message to be seen immediately.

14 Replies

@PhillipHamlyn  Unfortunately, this is how it works at the moment. If you want to have a private chat with an external user, you must use their full address (External).

Hi Phillip,

I daily use teams for internal colleagues and external Microsoft ex-colleagues.
Because I'm part of a lot of channels in the tenant, i often experience what you describe above.
In casu, whenever I've been active on the Microsoft channels, it takes a few days (some token to expire?) before their pings come to the tenant.
As Magnus states, this is the way it currently works.

My trick to avoid missing messages, is leaving my teams client open on my tenant, and opening a browser-based Teams client on the Microsoft tenant. That way, I get dual notifications.
Hi Vincent - we are also finding we have to recommend multi-Teams to get this to work acceptably - however Teams "used to" notify of activity in a Guest tenancy by showing a red dot + message count on the tenancy selection menu, but this has either gone away or no longer works.
Hi Magnus,

Unfortunately we are a multi-tenant company, and have synchronised our GALs - so when Chatting out users are presented with all the other company members as Guests. It would be unfortunate if we had to tell them to ignore the friendly names from the GAL and have to type in the recipients email address every time.

@PhillipHamlyn Agreed this isn't a great experience at the moment.


Have you looked at Shared Channels yet? It's just entered Public Preview and goes some of the way to removing this issue. Shared Channels replace guest access with direct access, when you share a channel with an external party they see that channel in their regular Teams environment, and don't need to tenant switch to access it. They don't get a second chat experience, everything stays in their tenant.


Think of Shared Channels as the nearest equivalent to federated chat, everyone stays in their own tenant but is allowed to use channels or the existing chat.

Hi Stephen,

Yes - we are eagerly awaiting Shared Channels - however it doesn't address the Chat instant messaging issues, as far as I have read. I agree that we would naturally replace our Guest users with Externals when sharing channels within the corp; however when a user uses the Chat IM function they are still going to have to ignore Guest users and have to type in the users full email address to chat to them. My frustration is "thats what GALS are for" - so the user can find people and message them without needing to keep knowing their email address :(

@PhillipHamlyn You only need to know the email once, as it's then going to be in your chat list. Typically you start from an email anyway, and reply with IM or use the Teams menu to start a chat. Or if they are part of a shared channel with you then you can start a chat from there.


I'm not really with you about listing external people in a GAL, it's rarely kept accurate. Is that really how your users work with Outlook, every external person they talk to has been added to the GAL so they can 'find them' ?

Hi Steven,

Thanks for your reply. We dont keep 'true external' people in the GAL, but we do add colleagues in our federated companies into the GAL as guests (since we have a lot of GAL information about them and their place in the corp). If a user wanted to chat with a 'true external' I completely agree with your point; that we'd start with email address and go from there. However if a user starts a chat and wants to find a colleague who is a Guest (via GAL synchronisation) the model breaks - the colleague wont get any notification at all, whereas a 'true external' would.

I'm at a loss to see why Chat doesn't seem to send a Chat notification to a Guest but will to an External. I understand this all works if the Guest is currently logged into the senders Teams tenancy, but this is really unlikely (unless using the 'two teams open at once' trick). After all; why should a Guest be logged into the senders Tenancy ? These days they are pretty much guaranteed to have their own Teams tenancy and be working most of the time in that Tenancy. I have a lingering feeling that there is a magic setting somewhere that I have missed :)
actually, you are correct the red dot is gone, but you do get the pop up in the bottom right of the screen. Several times i caught the pop-up and spent some time searching for the message afterwards :D
@VincentDal - are you talking about the Windows Notification toast ? Our users are set to notify via the Teams app and Windows Banner - but Guest users logged into a different Tenancy get no notifications at all if a user Chats their Guest account. The popups/banner/toast all work for communications within a tenancy, or Chats from a sender going via the External user account - just not for Guests

yep, that's what i talked about. I'm like 95% sure i get those, but they only show a few secs.
Will keep an eye for it.


With the recent Cross tenant Sync features I have enabled syncing of users across two tenants. Users from Company A are created as guests on Company B, and Users from Company B are created on Company A as guests. Due to this notification matter and having two different chat entities customers doesn't like it.  Example.


When you search for a user from Company B as a user on Company A, the guest account for the user comes up, if a user pick that it goes to the guest account of the company B user, instead of sending it to his actual teams account. 


Has anyone found a workaround or any update at all from MS on this ?

@PhillipHamlyn we are experiencing the same issue at scale (multi-national conglomerate of Azure B2B Cross Tenant Sync collaboration). Microsoft needs to resolve this issue or provide us with a way to "hide" the Guest/Member accounts and only show "External" options for Teams chat.

This is something where our customers also have difficulties and would like to have a solution.