Microsoft Outlook for Mac is now free for all users
Microsoft has announced that Outlook for Mac is now free. The company says that users do not need an Office license or a Microsoft 365 subscription for using the email client.
The announcement states that the app offers enterprise-grade security, with secure sign-on for authentication even for personal accounts. Outlook for macOS supports passwordless login via the Microsoft Authenticator app on phones.
The Windows version, which is still in Preview, is available from the Microsoft Store. The Windows app currently does not support Gmail, iCloud, and Yahoo Mail accounts, but, Outlook for macOS supports all of these, i.e. you can use it with your Microsoft Outlook.com, Apple iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo and IMAP accounts.
Here's what the new Outlook for Mac looks like.
And here's a screenshot of the Windows version for comparison. While the overall appearance is somewhat similar, the interface of the two versions differ (the icons, toolbar, colors), mostly because the apps follow the design standards of the respective operating systems.
It has a built-in calendar which can be accessed from the right pane, you can collapse it by clicking the button above it. The app also supports reminders. Outlook for Mac has a widget, that you may add to the widgets panel to view your agenda. Microsoft is planning on adding a Menu Bar feature called peek view, to allow users to see upcoming calendar events quickly.
Outlook's macOS app supports handoff with iOS, so you can pick up your drafts where you left off, and get straight to it on your iPhone. Microsoft says that it will soon introduce Outlook Profiles, which users can use with Apple's Focus mode. This will allow users to receive notifications from specific mail accounts, while silencing alerts from other inboxes.
The app uses the macOS notifications panel to deliver alerts. You can change the notification style from the Settings > Notifications and Sounds > Event Reminder Style. This allows you to choose between the Outlook built-in notification style, and the macOS Notification Center.
Note: If you don't see the Event Reminder Style menu in Outlook's preferences, close the app and restart it.
Once you've added an account, Outlook will prompt you whether you'd like to personalize the settings. You may skip this step if you just want to finish setting up your accounts. The personalization options can be accessed from the Outlook menu > Settings > General tab. Outlook supports 2 modes: Dark and Light, and can be set to follow the system's appearance. There are about 6 color schemes that you can choose for the accent. You may configure the density of messages: Compact, Cozy and Roomy, and also modify the font size.
It also lets you choose a reading style. Read on right is the traditional view with a sidebar on the left that lists your messages, and the mail reading pane on the right. Read on bottom moves the message list to the top, while the reading pane is placed at the bottom. The third option, New Window, opens new mails in separate windows. The Mac version of Outlook has some additional customization options under the general tab.
Tip: Click on the three-dot button on the toolbar, and select "Customize Toolbar". This panel can be used to add or remove buttons from the toolbar.
Download Microsoft Outlook for Mac from the App Store.
There is an option to "Purchase Microsoft 365" under the File menu, but you can ignore it, as Outlook is completely free to use. I recommend opting-out of the Telemetry (Diagnostic Data) from the Privacy section in the app's Settings.
Microsoft Outlook for Mac is optimized for Apple Silicon, it shows up as "Apple" under the Kind column of Activity Monitor, so it is a native app. This means that the app is not just a progressive web app (PWA), which is kind of ironic, given that the Windows app is in fact a PWA. The Redmond company says in its official announcement, that the Mac app has faster sync speeds, and better performance than previous versions.
Outlook for Mac is definitely better than the Windows version. And now that it's free, the Mac app will undoubtedly attract users who use Outlook on Windows and the web. That said, Apple's Mail app for Mac and iPhone is tough to beat, it has no ads or bloatware, and offers some very useful features like undo send, schedule send, reminders, etc., and works with most, if not all email providers.Advertisement