How to supercharge Slack with ‘action’ apps

Step up your Slack game by integrating third-party apps like Asana, Zapier, and Todoist. We show you how.

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If your office uses Slack on a daily basis, you know how easy it is to lose a good idea in a long list of scrolling messages — or in multiple channels. A simple way to reduce the clutter is by integrating third-party Slack apps that allow you to immediately convert chat messages into assignable tasks or other workflow elements. We’ll show you how to do just that.

By default, any user can add any app to the Slack workspace, unless an administrator has restricted access to certain apps or required admin permission to install any app. Admins can also preapprove a list of apps that can be installed in the workspace.

If your workspace has been locked down by the admins (and you’re not one of them), you’ll need to ask them to add the apps. Just follow along with the instructions here; we’ve noted the point at which you’ll submit the request to the administrators.

Once an app has been added to a workspace, each individual user in the workspace has to install it in order to use it — there’s no way for an admin to install the integrations for everyone in the workspace.

Before we begin, a word of warning: All third-party apps ask for some permissions in Slack, such as access to messages in private or public channels. Some apps ask for a great number of permissions. Before you install any app, be sure the permissions it requires don’t run afoul of your organization’s privacy policies.

For this walkthrough, we’ve focused on apps that use “actions,” Slack’s term for apps that can trigger an event right from the Actions menu of any message, rather than requiring users to type in a command. Some examples of actions include creating a ticket in bug-tracking software like Jira, or saving a web link to a bookmarking app such as Pocket to read later. Add these apps in Slack, click a button, and you’re set. 

Here we’ll demonstrate two examples of apps with Slack actions that can speed up your workday. The first is from the team-based project management software Asana, and we’ll use it to convert a Slack message to a task in that platform. In the second example, we’ll integrate the automation software Zapier and use it to create a new to-do list item in the app Todoist from a Slack message. Let’s get started.

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