I usually write about branding stuff like making custom themes and creating site designs, but today I am to switching gears a bit and focusing on Making a Custom Teams App Available for Everyone in your Organization! Using Teams’ App Policies, it’s easy to give all your users access to a standard set of apps, without them having to add those apps to their Teams installation manually.
There are a lot of useful apps that integrate within Teams already, but let’s say you also have a custom app that you’d like your organization to begin using. It’s not realistic to expect everyone to manually install the app themselves within Teams for a variety of reasons, but fortunately the Teams Admin Center makes it very easy to add a custom app to the left side of Teams for everyone. Note that you’ll need to be a Teams admin or Global admin to do this. If you’re not, make sure to share this post with your friendly Microsoft 365 Administrator.
First, we’ll need to add the app to the Teams app store. Open the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, then open the Teams Admin Center. If you don’t see the Teams Admin Center listed, click Show All in the left panel. (You can also navigate to https://admin.teams.microsoft.com directly).
Once you’re in the Teams Admin Center, expand the Teams apps section in the left panel, and click Manage apps. Here, you can upload your custom app to your Teams Apps store. Click the +Upload button and browse your computer for the app’s .zip file your developer has supplied.
Alternatively, if you prefer PowerShell, you can also quickly add the app to your Teams store. Make sure you have the Teams module installed in your PowerShell environment by running Install-Module -Name MicrosoftTeams and selecting Y to install. (If you run into issues, make sure you’re running PowerShell as an administrator – right-click the PowerShell icon and select Run as administrator.) Then, simply run New-TeamsApp -DistributionMethod organization -Path "C:\path\to\the\app_file.zip" (Obviously, make sure to replace the path with the actual path to the .zip file on your PC).
Whichever way you’ve added your app to the store, the next step is to add it to the App Policy so it shows up for everyone within Teams. In the Teams Admin Center, make sure the Teams apps section is expanded, then click on Setup policies.
App Policies allow you to control which Teams apps your users get access to by default. Generally, everyone has the Global (Org-wide default) policy applied to their accounts to begin with, but if you wanted, you can create new App Policies that give different users a different set of apps. But for this post, we’re going to focus on adding the app to the Global policy. Click on the Global (Org-wide default) policy. Here, you’ll see the default set of pinned apps that your users see whenever they log into Teams in the left rail.
Now, in the Pinned apps section, just click the +Add apps button, then search for the custom app you want to add from the store. There’s no browse feature here, so you’ll need to know the name of the app you’re adding. Click the Add button next to the app. If you want to add additional apps, continue searching and adding. Finally, click the Add button at the bottom of the panel to add the app(s) to the list of pinned apps in the policy.
If you want, you can reorder the pinned apps by checking the checkmark next to the app icon and using the Move up and Move down buttons. When you are happy with your pinned app policy, click Save.
At the time of this writing (June 2020), it takes around 24 hours for the updated policy to be pushed to all users in the organization – both in a test environment and in an actual environment – so don’t expect to see the changes immediately. But, in a day or so, everyone should be able to see the new custom app loaded into their Teams installation without any work on their part!