Mattermost Platform

Upcoming channel sidebar features: Custom categories, drag & drop, unread channel filtering, and more

Join us in testing an experimental feature set offering additional functionality for managing channels in your sidebar. The features are rolling out in stages under an opt-in config setting that can be enabled by System Admins in v5.22 and later: Experimental Sidebar Features.

We are excited to share these powerful features with you and look forward to your feedback. As we iterate on the user experience, we plan to release the features for general availability later this year. We would love to hear feedback, so please consider completing this feedback survey if you’re currently using the experimental feature set.

What changes are planned?

Sidebar features

1. Collapsible custom categories

Create custom categories in your sidebar and group channels together for easier navigation. Spend less time scrolling by collapsing categories to hide channels that are read. Mute entire categories to control the noise and focus on what matters. 

2. Drag & drop channels and categories

Drag channels in your sidebar to move them between categories or reorder channels within a category. Drag and reorder entire categories so you can prioritize the channels most important to you.

3. Filter unread channels

Focus your view and see only unread channels in your sidebar in one click. When you’re all caught up, turn off the filter and your sidebar goes back to normal. 

4. Quick access menus

Be more productive by accessing common actions directly on the channels in your sidebar.

5. Recent direct messages

Choose to sort Direct Messages by recent activity first or alphabetically.

When will the sidebar features be available?

We’ll be introducing the features in stages, adding them iteratively to the Experimental Sidebar Features config setting:

  • Phase 1 (v5.22): Unreads filtering, collapsible favorites, public, private, and direct message categories
  • Phase 2 (v5.26): User-defined custom categories with drag & drop of channels and categories, quick access menus
  • Phase 3 (Q4 2020): Muting categories, direct message recency sorting
  • Phase 4 (Q4 2020): General availability (i.e., remove the experimental config setting and release these features to all users) 

How do I enable the experimental feature set and configure defaults for users?

In v5.22 (April 16, 2020) or later, System Admins can enable these features in System Console > Experimental > Features > Experimental Sidebar Features.

If “default_on”, this enables the new sidebar features by default for all users on the server. Users can disable the features in Account Settings > Sidebar > Experimental Sidebar Features.

If “default_off”, users must enable the experimental sidebar features in Account Settings. 

How do I provide feedback?

We would love to hear what you think about these new features. Please consider completing this feedback survey if you’re currently using the experimental feature set.

You can also join us on our community daily build server where we have the features enabled by default and are actively discussing their development in the Channel Sidebar Organization channel.

Will Mattermost provide support for this experimental feature?

Yes, Mattermost will provide support for the experimental feature set and provide bug fix releases for severe bugs or security issues according to our usual process

How do I disable the new feature set for my account?

As an end user, you can disable the new sidebar features in Account Settings > Sidebar > Experimental Sidebar Features. Disabling the experimental feature will return the sidebar to its previous state, including for users who may have been using the experimental channel grouping and sorting options.

If you choose to disable these features, please help us improve and tell us why by submitting a feedback survey.


Eric Sethna is a Senior Product Manager at Mattermost, Inc. Prior to joining Mattermost, he worked as a Product Manager for SpinPunch, Inc., a Y Combinator-backed online gaming startup. Eric earned a bachelor of applied science degree in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo.