Getting Started With the New Outlook for Mac

Outlook for Mac logo superimposed on photo of El Capitain in Yosemite National Park

Microsoft has finally released an update to the aging Outlook for Mac 2011 email client. Simply named Outlook for Mac, the new application moves Microsoft’s offering for OS X closer to the look, feel, and functionality of its Windows versions.

Some of the new features include:

Better Exchange Support – The new Outlook for Mac now fully supports push email for Exchange accounts, including Office 365 email accounts.

Full Support for Categories on the Mac – The new Outlook for Mac now fully supports syncing categories from your Mac, so you can categorize contacts and emails with the same tags you use for other files in OS X.

Weather in the Calendar – When viewing the calendar in the new Outlook for Mac, you can now see a 3-day forecast for your area.

Move from Windows to Mac Easily – Outlook for Mac finally accepts .PST files from Outlook for Windows, so now making the jump from Windows to Mac is as simple as importing a file.

Unified Inbox – The new Outlook for Mac better utilizes a unified inbox, so all of your email accounts can now share it. Use one address book instead of spreading contacts across multiple places, and get your emails read more quickly and easily than ever before.

Now that you know the basics, here’s how to upgrade from Outlook for Mac 2011 to the new Outlook for Mac.

Installing the New Outlook for Mac

Currently the only way to upgrade to the new Outlook for Mac is to have an Office 365 plan. If you are already an Office 365 user, head over to Office365.com and navigate to your software download page.

1. You should see the new Outlook for Mac icon; click it to start the download. The new Outlook for Mac comes as a separate download and not a direct update from Microsoft.

2. With the application downloaded, double-click to start the install process. You’ll get two welcome screens that require clicking through to continue.

Outlook for Mac welcome screen windows

3. Once you click Get started, you’ll have to sign in to your Office365 account, so click Sign in and then walk through the steps to authorize the new Outlook for Mac to your account. When the sign-in process is complete, click the button labeled Start Using Outlook.

Sign-in windows on Outlook for Mac

Now you get the chance to import your Outlook 2011 data over to the new Outlook for Mac automatically so you don’t lose a thing.

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4. If you want to do this, click the Import button. Note: If you don’t want Outlook to be the default client for email, calendar, and contacts, make sure to uncheck the box on this screen.

Data import window on Outlook for Mac

Having the new Outlook for Mac import your data will take some time depending on the number of old emails, contacts, and calendar entries you have. Once the process is complete, it’s time to start using the new Outlook for Mac.

Importing in progress on Outlook for Mac

Using the New Outlook for Mac

Once the data import process is complete, your inbox should appear. The first thing you’ll notice is the new layout, including the tabbed layout and flat-looking buttons. From here, check out the new unified inbox to the left as well as the tabbed bar at the bottom.

Click through the tabs at the bottom of the Outlook window to see your Calendar, People (Contacts), Tasks, and Notes. Make sure when you look at the Calendar tab that the checkbox next to your calendars is checked, as our install did not default this option. The same goes for People.

If you’ve ever used Outlook 2013 you will find yourself right at home in the new Outlook for Mac. If not, the layout is far easier to understand than Outlook 2011’s interface ever was.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has not improved the syncing capability with OS X Contacts and Calendar, so any contacts you have inside the new Outlook for Mac will have to stay put for now. Microsoft may choose to update this later, but for now it’s still a walled garden.

This update also only works for current Office365 customers that are not part of a corporate plan. If you wish to purchase the new Outlook for Mac outright, you’ll have to wait until late 2015 for the retail version.

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