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User presence and status

Slack users can toggle whether they are marked active or away. They can also set their own custom status, informing their workspace not only that they are at lunch, but exactly what they are eating.

Custom status

A set custom status as it appears within a conversation

Users can declare their status by selecting a custom emoji icon and string of text to represent their "current status" — maybe they're in another office, on the good old telephone, sailing, vacationing in the sticks, or possibly eaten by a grue.

Some users want to fly the freak flag and use this space to wax poetic while others won't touch the stuff, or only in the most perfunctory way.

We encourage developers to embrace all the ways users and workspaces enjoy utilizing custom status. Slack is where workplay happens.

Custom status is part of a user's profile and setting status requires the users.profile:write scope. At this time, bot users do not have a user profile and are without status, current, custom, or otherwise.

Reading statuses

Determine a user's currently set custom status by consulting their profile. You'll find profiles attached to user objects returned by users.list and users.info. Both methods require the users:read OAuth scope.

More directly retrieve status for a specific user with users.profile.get with the users.profile:read scope.

A user's custom status is represented by the status_text, status_emoji, and status_expiration profile attributes.

  • status_text - a string of no more than 100 characters; does not support markup or other formatting, like user mentions. May contain :emoji: references.
  • status_emoji - a string corresponding to an emoji installed on the workspace. Animated emoji will appear frozen. When clearing the attribute, a default emoji (currently 💬 / :speech_balloon:) will be selected for the user.
  • status_expiration - an integer specifying seconds since the epoch, more commonly known as "UNIX time". When it becomes this time, the status will be reset. When 0 or omitted, the status does not expire.

To be notified when status and other profile fields change, subscribe to user_change events in the Events API or use the RTM API to stream and monitor.

Writing custom statuses

Set a user's custom status by using their access token with users.profile.set and the users.profile:write scope.

You'll need to provide the profile parameter a URL-encoded JSON string containing at least the status_text attribute.

For example, to set a non-expiring custom status of riding a train with an emoji set to this idyllic scene: 🚞, build a JSON payload like this:

{
    "status_text": "riding a train",
    "status_emoji": ":mountain_railway:",
    "status_expiration": 0
}

Next, place the custom status fields within the user's profile and use users.profile.set. In this example, we're posting with JSON and using a workspace token while acting on a user's behalf:

POST /api/users.profile.set
Host: slack.com
Content-type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Authorization: Bearer xoxa_secret_token
X-Slack-User: U123456
{
    "profile": {
        "status_text": "riding a train",
        "status_emoji": ":mountain_railway:",
        "status_expiration": 0
    }
}

As with other profile fields, these fields may be set on their own or while updating multiple profile fields.

To unset a user's custom status, set both status_text and status_emoji to empty strings: "".

Expiring custom statuses

Automatically expire a custom status by setting status_expiration to an integer-based UNIX timestamp, like 1532627506.

For example, to set a custom status of 🚞 riding the train home and have it expire on July 26th, 2018 at 17:51:46 UTC, construct this JSON payload:

{
    "status_text": "riding the train home",
    "status_emoji": ":mountain_railway:",
    "status_expiration": 1532627506
}

That's how to sync status with calendars, cubicles, conference calls, and bathroom stalls.


User presence

A user can have one of two possible presence values, active or away. A user is active if they have at least one client connected to Slack, and they are not marked as "away". There are two ways a user can be marked as away: automatic and manual.

presence_change event behavior will change on November 15, 2017. Subscriptions will become mandatory. See below.

Automatic Away

The Slack message servers will automatically detect activity in the client. After 30 minutes with no activity, the user is automatically marked as away. There is some additional nuance to that dependent on the client, explained in detail in our Help Center.

These auto-away rules do not apply to Bot Users.

Manual Away

An application can call users.setPresence to manually mark a user as away or auto. A manual status set using this method will persist between connections.

A manual away status set using this method overrides the automatic presence determined by the message server.

Setting presence back to auto indicates that the automatic status should be used instead. There's no way to force a user status to active.

Bot presence

Bot users have their own form of being present on Slack.

When marked away, bots will have a grey dot next to their name. Many users interpret this demarcation to mean your bot is not currently available.

And when they are active, bots will have a green dot there. Users have been known to consider your green dot a badge of conversational readiness.

It's either/or. away or active. Grey or green.

Please don't use presence to telegraph Morse code or teach your bot to speak the binary language of moisture vaporators. Use chat.postMessage for that.

Events API bots

If your bot user runs on the Events API, you can only toggle your bot's active or away status by managing your app and its Bot Users panel, or for apps published in the App Directory, on the Live App Settings panel.

Toggling bot user presence for the events API

When set to Off, your bot user is only marked as online if it's connected to the RTM API.

When set to On, your bot user will be marked as active and present. That green dot is all yours. Just toggle back Off again to be marked away.

Your bot user's profile will include a always_active field set to true. Counter-intuitively, your bot's presence field will remain away. That's the bad news.

The good news is that always_active will be interpreted by Slack clients as if the bot user's presence were active. Yes, you're awarded that green dot.

RTM bots

If your bot user runs on the RTM API, your bot will be marked active to users whenever connected to the RTM API.

Bots cannot set their presence to active with users.setPresence. RTM bots can use it to set it to away. Or you can always automatically mark your bot as away by disconnecting from your websocket.

Determining user presence

RTM API Presence is now only available via subscription.
As of January 2018, presence_change events are not dispatched without presence subscriptions established with presence_sub. Relatedly, current user presence status is no longer communicated in rtm.start. Learn more.

Presence subscriptions over RTM

Presence subscriptions are required to track presence_change events over RTM.

Subscribe to presence_change events for specific users by sending a presence_sub event into the websocket.

For instance, to subscribe to presence_change events for users U123456 and W123456, write the following JSON blob into an established websocket:

{
    "type": "presence_sub",
    "ids": [
        "U123456",
        "W123456"
    ]
}

The message server will respond with presence_change events indicating the current presence state of any users added to the presence subscription.

Here's what you need to know about presence subscriptions:

  • You must declare your entire list of user IDs to subscribe to in each request.
    • Add users by appending them to your array of ids.
    • Remove users by removing them from your array of ids.
  • Subscribing to all user's presence events requires specifying every user's ID. This is not recommended, especially on large workspaces.
    • For best results, limit subscriptions to only those users you absolutely need presence information for. 500 users is a good maximum.
  • Presence subscriptions work best with batched presence_change events.
  • Upon connecting, your app will have no presence subscriptions.
  • Presence subscriptions only last the duration of a websocket session. Disconnecting means needing to subscribe again.
  • By specifying an Enterprise Grid user ID belonging to a user on another workspace within the same Enterprise Grid, your app can subscribe to cross-workspace presence_change events.

Presence subscriptions are now effectively required, as of January 2018. Learn more.

presence_sub is rate limited and there are upper bounds to the amount of data posted in a single event.

Presence querying with the RTM API

Writing a presence_query event to the WebSocket will perform a query operation for a list of up to 500 user IDs.

To look up users U123456 and W123456, send a query like:

{
    "type": "presence_query",
    "ids": [
        "U123456",
        "W123456"
    ]
}

In response, you'll receive presence_change events for the matching users.

presence_query is rate limited and there are upper bounds to the amount of data posted in a single event.

Presence querying with the Web API

When using our Web API, you can call the users.getPresence method to get the user's current presence value.

Presence subscriptions over Events API

Presence-related events cannot be tracked using the Events API at this time.

Batched presence events

Traditionally, using the Real Time Messaging API the initial call to rtm.start or rtm.connect would include the current presence value for every member of your workspace. If their presence value changes after that, a presence_change event would be sent.

Now presence events must be batched together into a special version of the presence_change event that includes a users array instead of a singular user field. You must enable this new behavior by passing the batch_presence_aware=1 parameter to rtm.start or rtm.connect. presence_change events will otherwise no longer dispatch after November 15, 2017.

Initial presence state is no longer described when connecting to rtm.start.