Slack is a popular workplace communication and collaboration tool, but it has a steep learning curve and can overwhelm users with notifications. We looked at dozens of alternatives to find the ones that excel at group messaging, notifications, third-party integrations, and security. Based on those, we bring you the top six slack alternatives for 2019.
Top 6 Alternatives to Slack 2019
|Slack Alternatives||Best For|
|Google Hangouts Chat||(Best Overall) Small businesses looking for a flexible alternative to Slack|
|Microsoft Teams||Smaller teams that use Office365 productivity software|
|Workplace by Facebook||Organizations with non tech-savvy users familiar with Facebook interface|
|Chanty||Teams that want AI-powered chat at an affordable price|
|Basecamp||Teams needing communication and project management in one integrated tool|
|Rocket.Chat||Users looking for an open-source, self-hosted group communication tool|
How We Evaluated Slack Alternatives
While Slack was designed to eliminate the burden of the email inbox, it does have some drawbacks, like its learning curve and overwhelming notifications. As we looked at alternatives to Slack, we paid close attention to how each software handled things like group messaging and collaboration, how much control users have over notifications, whether there was a mobile app, and the overall price and affordability.
The criteria we used to evaluate the best alternatives include:
- Price: The cost of using a tool like Slack can add up quickly when teams get larger so we looked at the price and feature set to determine the overall value that each software provides to users.
- Group Messaging: Organizing conversations across a variety of departments, teams, and groups can get overwhelming so we evaluated what tools are available to create channels and groups.
- Search and filtering: We looked at the tools available to sort through, search, and filter chat streams, and how easily users can quickly find the conversations and information that are important to them.
- Notifications: One of the common user frustrations with Slack is the number of notifications so we evaluated how these alternatives handle alerting users to content that is relevant to them.
- Collaboration & Project Management: Slack is used by teams to keep connected, and these alternatives all provide different tools for collaboration and project management.
- Third-Party Integrations: Slack connects with many third-party tools so we considered whether these alternatives provided similar functionality, either built-in or through bots and integrations.
Based on these criteria, we choose Google Hangouts Chat as the best overall option for small business because it’s already built into G Suite, which is used by over 4 million organizations. It also includes similar group channel functionality (called “rooms”), third-party notifications, automated bots, and search features. Hangouts Chat has a simple interface, a mobile app, and is available at no additional charge to G Suite users.
Best Overall Slack Alternative for Small Businesses: Google Hangouts Chat
Hangouts Chat is a Slack alternative and Google’s answer to team communications and collaboration. It allows group chats for up to 8,000 users, enterprise-level security, integration with Google Drive and Docs, and powerful search features. Hangouts Chat is a part of G Suite, with plans beginning at $6/user per month, which is similar to Slack. HangoutsChat is the best overall Slack alternative for small businesses looking for a flexible and cost-effective option.
Google Hangouts Chat Pricing
Google Hangouts Chat is included with G Suite subscriptions, which are available for $6 or $12/user per month, which is comparable to other options including Slack. Users must be subscribed to G Suite to use Hangouts Chat, and are able to take advantage of the entire suite, making it essentially a free add-on.
Google Hangouts Chat Features
Google Hangouts Chat includes both direct private messaging and group chat channels that it calls “rooms.” In addition, Hangouts Chat includes unlimited message history and search, which are only available on Slack’s paid plan. Google provides access to third party integrations and automated bots, like those for Google Drive and Calendar, though not as many as Slack or Microsoft Teams at this time.
Features of Hangouts Chat include:
Google Hangouts Chat calls its group chat feature “Rooms.” Messages in rooms can be retained for as long as you decide, and users can choose notifications preferences based on the rooms they are in. Rooms can have up to 8,000 members, which is more than Microsoft Teams, and similar to Slack, and organizations can set whether rooms are open or closed, providing control over who can access which groups.
In addition to larger group chats that take place in rooms, Hangouts Chat allows you to send direct messages to individual users or groups. Unlike Slack, these messages are not limited in the number of people you can include, though they are still best suited for small groups of people.
Like Slack, Hangouts Chat lets you turn off notifications for individual direct messages or rooms. It also allows you to choose whether to receive notifications for specific conversations, @mentions, or direct messages. You can even set a reminder notification in case you haven’t viewed a message in 12 hours that will alert you by email. Finally, there is an automated “bot” for Google Drive that alerts you whenever someone has shared a Google Drive file with you.
Message History and Search
One of the areas that businesses run into frustration with Slack is that it limits the free plan to 10,000 messages of history, making it impossible to search for old messages as your platform adoption grows. Messages on Hangouts Chat are retained for as long as you decide, giving you control over your company’s retention policy. In addition, searching for past messages, shared files, and threads is far more reliable than on other options, and especially more so than Slack.
Users can access their direct messages, rooms, and notifications all from the Hangouts Chat mobile app. They can also start new rooms or direct messages, as well as search message history in an easy-to-use mobile interface. Compared to Slack, the Hangouts Chat mobile app is more streamlined, but doesn’t allow easily switching between different accounts, something that Slack users who belong to different organizations may miss.
Hangouts Chat is fully integrated with G Suite, making it easy to collaborate on documents from your Google Drive without having to worry about setting the right permissions. While it currently offers less third-party integrations than Slack, developers continue to connect new services on a regular basis. Hangouts Chat also includes a native bot for Calendar that allow you to schedule group meetings directly from within the app, based on everyone’s availability.
What Hangouts Chat Is Missing
Google Hangouts Chat currently has less third-party integrations available than Slack, for example. It also lacks the light-hearted feel of Slack, as well as some of the fun “bots” that Slack users are fond of.
What Users Think About Google Hangouts Chat
Users like that Google Hangouts Chat has a clean, simple interface, without the feature-overload that Slack is sometimes known for. Users also give it high marks for ease of setup since it’s already part of G Suite, and sports the familiar Google design interface. On the negative side, users point out that Hangouts Chat is relatively new and less developed than Slack and other options.
“Slack had been used in our workplace for a while but when I arrived, I suggested that we try Google Hangouts. After some time, everyone got used to it and loved it. Its integration was perfect because we use G suite for business, which means it all comes together. For example: You can reply to Hangout messages straight from your emails tab. you can call each other from their too. This means that you don’t have to have a tab dedicated to Hangouts. Having different conversation threads for each team is great and keeps things organized.”
― Charlie Worrall, Digital Marketing Executive, Imaginaire Digital
Where to Find Google Hangouts Chat
Google Hangouts Chat is a part of the G Suite productivity software collection and includes group and private messaging, video chat, and calling in a browser-based app. In addition, the mobile app can be downloaded for free from either the Apple App Store, or Google Play store. Visit Google Hangouts Chat for more information.
Best For Teams Using Office 365 Productivity Suite: Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is a Slack alternative and collaboration platform with group chat, online meetings and web conferencing features that is available as a part of the Office 365 suite of productivity software. It is included in the Business Premium subscription which is $10/user per month, or is available as a standalone app for free. Microsoft Teams is tightly integrated with Office 365 and is the best choice for teams using the complete productivity suite.
Microsoft Teams Pricing
Microsoft Teams is available as a part of the Office 365 Business Premium subscription, which costs $12.50/user per month for up to 300 users. An identical standalone version is also available for free, without the other Office 365 apps.
Microsoft Teams Features
Microsoft Teams offers chat and messaging features that are similar to other options on this list, though Microsoft does a better job of forcing conversations into threads compared to Slack. Microsoft also allows better control over notifications, though overall, Teams is limited to 300 users unless you subscribe to an Enterprise-level plan.
Some of the reasons to consider Microsoft Teams include:
Group Chat & Private Messaging
Microsoft Teams includes group chat similar to Slack or Google Hangouts Chat. Users can create channels for specific teams or departments, or send individual or group private messages. In addition, like Slack, users can also assign guest access to specific groups, which is helpful for working with outside customers or consultants. Teams also supports video conferencing and calling for up to 300 users at a time.
Microsoft Teams allows you to control notifications by turning them on for specific channels, messages, or teams. Notifications appear on the desktop software and mobile devices, and users can opt to mark notifications as unread to remind them to return later. In addition, the mobile app allows you to filter notifications and activity based on @mentions, replies, or likes.
Message History and Search
Unlike Slack’s free version, Microsoft Teams allows unlimited message history and search capability. Slack limits users to 10,000 messages, which makes it far more limited than Teams. User can search for messages, people, or files, by typing a name, keyword, or phrase into the command box at the top of the app. Additional filters can be added to make it easier to find results based on file type or date.
One of the strongest features of Microsoft Teams is how easily it integrates with the remainder of the Office 365 suite of productivity software. For example, when you create a new team, a SharePoint site is automatically created for document management and collaboration. Like Slack, users can also add bots to individual chats and channels.
Teams includes robust integrations with the online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, along with OneDrive file sharing. In fact, Microsoft Teams includes built-in online versions of these applications, allowing collaboration and document editing from within the Teams application.
What Microsoft Teams Is Missing
One of the biggest areas where Microsoft Teams falls behind other options on this list is that it is limited to 300 users unless you sign up for the Enterprise version of Office 365. That limits the size of teams that can take advantage of the Teams application.
What Users Think About Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams users like the overall integration with Office 365, and that it is included with that subscription instead of having to pay an additional cost for a tool like Slack. They also like that guests can use Microsoft Teams as a free standalone application. Users give it high marks for the overall library of over 130 third-party applications, however, they point out that like many Microsoft products, it can be slightly overwhelming to learn and use.
Where to Find Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is available as a part of an Office 365 Business Premium subscription, or as a free standalone app for up to 300 users. Teams includes group chat, private messages, video conferencing, and document sharing, making it easy for businesses to collaborate and communicate with each other. Visit Microsoft Teams for more information.
Best For Less Tech Savvy Teams: Workplace by Facebook
Workplace by Facebook is a Slack alternative and team collaboration tool designed on the same platform as the social media network. Workplace by Facebook is $3 per user, making it an affordable alternative to Slack for businesses wanting a solution that is easy to use by team members familiar with Facebook, especially if those users are less than tech-savvy.
Workplace by Facebook Pricing
Workplace costs $3/user per month, and includes chat, video conferencing, and voice calls for up to 5,000 users. The free version is virtually identical but does not include outside integrations or enterprise level user controls, making it ideal for smaller organizations that want a simple and familiar group communication tool.
Workplace by Facebook Features
Workplace by Facebook will be familiar to users of Facebook’s social network and most of the features mirror those available on the public version. Users will recognize the News Feed as the primary source of updates and information, while groups and messages are available for more direct communication needs.
A few of the features in Workplace include:
Since Workplace is essentially a private version of Facebook for your business or organization, the interface is familiar. Users can share messages, files, photos, polls, or other content which appears on the News Feed. This feature is ideal for sharing company-wide announcements and general information. Like the public version of Facebook, the News Feed operates with a behind-the-scenes algorithm to provide users with the most relevant content.
Group Chat & Private Messaging
Workplace allows users to create groups, which operate the same as the public version of Facebook. These groups can be used for teams, departments, projects, or for communicating with outside parties. In addition, users can send private or group Messages that can include files and attachments, making it easy to share content and collaborate on documents across teams and departments.
Workplace by Facebook includes the same types of notifications as Facebook, which can be turned on based on specific posts or types of content. Users can receive notifications for the groups they are in, for content they’ve shared, and for interactions including “likes” and comments.
Video Chat & Live Video
Workplace includes video calling for face-to-face meetings, as well as live video for large group meetings or announcements. The Live Video feature is especially helpful for training, group announcements, and presentations. It includes comments and real-time feedback as well as the ability to replay video at a later time. Video chat includes the ability to connect up to 50 team members in video conferencing, which is about average for the options we considered.
Integrations & Bots
Workplace integrates with services like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Salesforce, and more. Users can also take advantage of Workplace Chat bots to make payroll, benefits or onboarding processes quicker and easier by automating frequent workflows. Integrations with document services include dynamic previews to view content without having to open files in their native application, a feature not directly available in any other option reviewed here.
Safety Check & Org Chart
Workplace includes two innovative features that are unique among the options we reviewed. First, Safety Check is a feature that allows organizations to send alerts and notifications in the event of an emergency, as well as the ability for employees to mark themselves as safe or needing help. Org Chart lets you look up contact information by clicking on their name to go to their profile page to see their location, contact details, supervisor, and team.
What Workplace Is Missing
One area that Workplace lags behind some of its competitors is in the ability to set out-of-office notifications, or set an availability status. In addition, it lacks some of the enterprise-level integrations that are found in options like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Finally, Workplace does not include task and project management features meaning that teams have to duplicate efforts to translate comments and feedback into action steps.
What Users Think About Workplace
Users give Workplace high marks for its low cost and familiar interface. Users also like that it’s simple to set up and get buy-in since most team members are already comfortable with Facebook resulting in little to no learning curve. Many users do wish that it included more project management features and that it was easier to create chat channels instead of having to create a more formal group.
Where to Find Workplace
Workplace by Facebook is a business communication tool with messaging, group conversations, video chat, and live video feeds for $3/user per month. A free version is also available without enterprise administrative controls or integrations, which essentially serves as a trial before subscribing. Visit Workplace by Facebook for more information.
Best Affordable AI-Powered Team Chat: Chanty
Chanty is a Slack alternative that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver users the most important information by highlighting what it thinks is most relevant in search results and conversation feeds. Chanty costs $3/user per month, for group chat and messaging, unlimited search history, and 20GB of file storage for collaborating on documents and projects. Chanty is best for teams looking for an AI-powered chat tool at affordable prices.
Chanty charges $3/user per month, for as many users as you need. There is a free version which is limited to your first 10 users, making it a good way to try out the service. The paid plan includes unlimited conversations and saved messages, as well as 20GB of storage per individual.
Chanty primarily focuses on being a faster, smarter version of Slack. In fact, that’s how it describes itself. Most of the interface and features will be familiar to current Slack users, though there are a few important differences. Mainly, Chanty has invested in integrating AI and machine learning to provide automated answers, responses, and search results that highly tailored to an individual’s previous activity, in order to deliver the most relevant information.
Some of Chanty’s features include:
Group Chat & Private Messaging
Chanty includes the ability to create group channels for communications by department, team, or group. Users can also send individual or group private messages and attach or share files. One area Chanty sets itself apart is its use of AI, which uses machine learning algorithms to deliver only what’s important, helping users avoid endless scrolling and catch up with any hyperactive conversation.
Machine learning in Chanty not only filters threads to provide the best information but also learns from your search inquiries to better provide the most relevant results. It also offers predictive responses that make it faster and easier to reply. Chanty is positioning itself as a faster, easier-to-use alternative to Slack, and machine learning is a big part of it. It’s also something that isn’t implemented nearly as prominently in any of the other options.
Chanty is behind other options on the integration front, at least for now. It currently integrates directly with Giphy, the popular GIF bot, as well as Zapier, which allows for third-party connections. Integrations with many popular services including Dropbox, Google Drive, Asana, Trello, Mailchimp, and Stripe, are currently scheduled for deployment in the near future.
What Chanty Is Missing
Chanty lacks many of the integrations common in other options like Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts Chat. Chanty also doesn’t currently offer calling features like Slack, Google Hangouts and Workplace, and currently does not have an Android mobile app.
What Users Think About Chanty
Users like that Chanty is a simple-to-use alternative to Slack and that the machine learning features make it far easier to navigate and find relevant information without having to scroll through endless threads. They also give it positive reviews for the search features, however, many users with that it had more integrations available for common third-party services.
Where to Find Chanty
Chanty is a Slack alternative that uses machine learning to make team communications and collaboration faster and more relevant. It includes group and private messaging, unlimited search and message history, and built-in task management. A free version is available for up to 10 users, with the paid version costing $3/user per month. Visit Chanty to get started.
Best For Project Management & Communications: Basecamp
Basecamp is a project management and team collaboration tool with unlimited users for $99 per month. In addition to managing projects, Basecamp is a great Slack alternative for teams that need both communication as well as project management features, especially teams that manage client projects. Also, since Basecamp only charges one price, it’s good for teams of any size, especially those that are growing quickly and want to avoid increased per-user costs.
Basecamp is $99 per month for unlimited users and unlimited projects. This price includes all of Basecamp’s features and up to 500GB of file storage with discounts for nonprofit organizations and no annual contracts. For large teams that are primarily looking for a communication tool for project teams, Basecamp is the most affordable option.
Basecamp is a team collaboration tool that includes group and direct chat alongside a robust collection of project management features. It also allows users to tailor notifications to the messages and information that is most relevant, while also offering reporting features, which aren’t available from other providers on this list.
A few of the features of Basecamp that stand out include:
Basecamp’s real-time group chat (Campfires) allows you to communicate quickly and get feedback on projects, tasks, documents, and calendar events. Each project in Basecamp has its own chat room, and users can attach files, quotes, videos, emojis, or identify other users with @mentions to get their attention. This feature is most comparable to the core feature of Slack, but has the advantage of keeping all of your project communications in one software tool.
Basecamp offers a range of project collaboration tools including scheduling, task lists, file sharing and direct messaging with anyone on the same Basecamp account. Check-in questions let team members share what they’re working on, with all replies sent in a single, easy-to-read digest to the team.
Since Basecamp is at its core a project management platform, it includes reporting features to provide insight into what’s happening project-by-project, what’s overdue and due soon, and what tasks are assigned. It also provides reporting individual and group activity, including files they’ve shared, comments they’ve posted, and work added to a project. Since none of the other options are directly focused on project management, they lack these reporting features.
What Basecamp Is Missing
Basecamp lacks channels or group chat, instead, its chat is based on projects. This means, in order to create different group chats users would have to create a project for that purpose. It also lacks video conferencing, calling, or video chat features found in Workplace, Microsoft Teams and Hangouts Chat.
What Users Think About Basecamp
Readers on our site give Basecamp a 4.5 out of five-star rating. Users like how versatile it is, how well it helps organize projects, and how it keeps all project communications and tasks in one place. Users also like that it’s intuitive to use, however, they do wish it was easier to organize communications by team instead of only by project. For more user reviews, visit our Basecamp User Review Page.
Where to Find Basecamp
Businesses that want a robust project management tool with real-time chat for unlimited users and projects should take a look at Basecamp. It offers task management, direct messaging, chat rooms, and file storage at a fixed price of $99 per month. The company offers a free 30-day trial with no credit card required. Visit Basecamp’s website for details.
Best Open-Source Customizable Chat: Rocket.Chat
Rocket.Chat is an open source team collaboration and communication platform that includes live chat, video and audio conferencing, and file sharing. Rocket.Chat can be installed or hosted in the cloud and is designed to help entire organizations, teams, or individuals to communicate with one another in a group or one-to-one environment, with pricing starting at $2/user per month. Rocket.Chat is best for teams looking for a fully customizable open-source chat tool.
Rocket.Chat provides a free open-source installation that can be hosted on your own server, or can be hosted on a service like AWS. Cloud-hosted plans through Rocket.Chat start at $2/user per month, and include public and private messaging channels, unlimited message search history, and video conferencing.
The features of both the self-hosted and cloud-based versions are the same. The only real difference is that Rocket.Chat recommends using the self-hosted version for teams of no more than 1,000 users. Additionally, the self-hosted version doesn’t include cloud-based storage unless that is something you configure on your own.
Some of the other features of Rocket.Chat include:
Group Chat & Private Messaging
Rocket.Chat includes open channels for group and team conversations, as well as private messaging for personal communications. Similar to other options, users can join or leave channels at any time and view the entire message history for that group. The group chat features also include the ability to quickly switch to video conferencing or screen sharing for easy collaboration and team meetings.
Since Rocket.Chat can be hosted on your own server, you are given complete access to the source code, allowing you to fully customize, extend or add new functionality to meet your team’s specific requirements. Self-hosting allows users to manage their own storage, and add as many users as necessary, though Rocket.Chat recommends using it for up to 1,000 users only.
Because Rocket.Chat is open-source, end users can create incoming and outgoing webhooks to integrate their team communications tool with popular third-party services. At the same time, there are few predesigned integrations that can be easily added like Slack, Hangouts Chat, or Microsoft Teams. Users can also create their own bots, and create customized notifications based on keywords, channels, or specific threads.
What Rocket.Chat Is Missing
Rocket.Chat does not include nearly as many integrations as options like Google Hangouts Chat, Microsoft Teams, or Slack. It also does not include the same level of support as other options since it’s designed to be installed and managed on-premise by the end user.
What Users Think About Rocket.Chat
Rocket.Chat users really like that the open-source software can be installed on your own server for free, that it’s highly customizable, and that it offers a powerful alternative to Slack for organizations willing to go through the trouble of setting up and managing their own implementation. On the negative, Rocket.Chat includes far fewer built-in integrations with third-party services, though developers can create their own using the source code.
Where to Find Rocket.Chat
Rocket.Chat is an open-source team chat and collaboration tool with private and group messaging, video conferencing, and bot integrations. Hosted plans begin at $2/user per month, and a free self-hosted version is also available to install on your own server. Rocket.chat offers a 30-day free trial of the cloud-hosted version. Visit Rocket.Chat for more information.
Finding the right Slack alternative depends on how your team communicates and what features are most important to you. We recommend Google Hangouts Chat for most businesses because it is easy to use, is included with G Suite, and will be familiar to team members who are used to Google software. Since it’s a part of the overall software suite, there is no charge for Hangouts Chat making it an affordable and easy-to-use way to keep your team connected.