I changed my Slack notifications into hummus, but now I'm hungry for more

A laptop showing a photograph of some delicious hummus next to the Slack logo.
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Slack / etorres)

Did you know that you can change the default notification sound on Slack? Maybe you did, but one of the options is not like the others - among the various jingles and drumming noises, you'll find comedy gold in the form of a British woman firmly saying the word 'hummus'. 

This fun little Slack feature won't help spare you from the agonizing last few hours of the workday, but it's random enough to put a smile on your face every time a colleague messages you to nudge for any updates.

It should also be said that this is by no means a new feature to have appeared on the popular messaging program, but it doesn't appear to be especially well known, and as the world's biggest fan of hummus (self-identified) that seems like a real shame to me.

Twitter user @charlottekennny is responsible for bringing this to my attention, and after the initial confusion passed I did a little digging around to see why this existed in the first place.

As it turns out, this is something of an inside joke amongst Slack staff. Back in 2016, Slack employees allegedly fell in love with how the company's then editorial director Anna Pickard said the word 'hummus' in her English accent, so they decided to immortalize it as an MP3 file that can be used on the platform.

It's easy to replicate on your own system if you want to give it a try yourself. Just select onto your profile image at the top right of the screen and select into 'Preferences'.

From here you'll land on the 'Notifications' page where you can scroll down to the section labeled 'Sound & appearance'. There are two dropdown boxes for notification sounds, one for messages and another for huddles, so you can set them to different sounds to easily differentiate between them while you're working (Hummus is located at the very bottom).

Opinion: Slack should go all in with this

This is a total gimmick, but it doesn't need to be. In fact, I'd argue that this could be used as a valuable productivity tool if a few additional developments are made.

Slack doesn't currently support custom notification sounds, nor does it allow you to set a different notification for each channel you're a part of, and that's a crying shame. However, you can customize a variety of other elements in Slack, from emojis and aliases to integrations, which can result in potentially transformational increased productivity or pure hilarity, depending on your taste. So, why can't we customize notifications?

As someone that suffers from anxiety, being able to set custom notifications that audibly say what channel I'm being pinged in doesn't just help to avoid stress levels spiking as you run to check if your manager wants to spring an immediate 1-2-1 on you, but you can also prioritize urgent work without needing to check Slack every time a notification goes off.

A great example would be if you're part of several channels, with many of these being socially focused and a few being more work orientated. If you get a message in a channel that requires urgent attention, you could record a quick sounds that says 'urgent' so that you know exactly when you need to refocus on another task.

There are ways to record custom notification sounds, though the process isn't officially supported and requires some technical know-how. It also doesn't solve the restriction around setting different sounds for each channel, but I hope that this is something Slack could look to introduce down the line.

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.