On March 6, Microsoft announced that the native Outlook for Mac app is now free for macOS users on the App Store. The app complements Outlook for iOS and allows users to integrate Outlook.com, Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo and IMAP accounts in Outlook; in contrast, Microsoft 365 with Outlook usually requires a subscription or the Office for Mac bundle. The free version of Outlook for Mac will be ad-supported, with a possible upgrade to a paid, ad-free tier with most of the same features.
SEE: Checklist: Microsoft 365 app and services deployments on Macs (TechRepublic Premium)
Apple has specified that the Apple-native redesign is distinct from the Progressive Web App (PWA) version Apple deployed for testing in Windows.
Outlook features re-engineered for Mac
Outlook for macOS is built for Apple Silicon, which gives it faster performance and sync speeds than previous, non-native versions, Microsoft said. Reminders from Outlook can be seen in the Notification Center. Microsoft plans to roll out previews for upcoming calendar events in the Apple version with a Menu Bar widget coming soon.
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These are some of the most significant features Mac users can expect to find in the free instance of Microsoft Outlook:
The Handoff feature makes moving between iOS and Mac easier. Users can view messages composed in Outlook for Mac on either iOS or Mac devices. This could allow a user to compose an email on a desktop and continue to refine it on a mobile phone while on the go, for example.
Another feature Microsoft plans to roll out in the future for Outlook for Mac is Outlook Profiles; with this feature, users can connect their email addresses to Apple’s Focus tool. Outlook Profiles won’t send notifications when the Focus experience is engaged. For example, a user could set Focus to send notifications for only work emails, not personal emails.
Some features of Outlook for Mac take advantage of the “best of both worlds” features built on Outlook’s existing tools. The All-Accounts view lets users see multiple inboxes at once when they want to be juggling work and personal time or multiple work inboxes.
Outlook for macOS also connects to the Focused Inbox feature, which allows users to prioritize messages by pinning or snoozing them. The Open My Day feature, an interactive calendar, can open in the task pane alongside the inbox to show meetings and event invitations in the same window.
The Outlook app is slated to replace the Mail and Calendar apps in Windows 11. Apple also provides its own Mail and Calendar apps, with Outlook for Mac as an alternative option. The differentiation, Microsoft emphasized, is the built-in productivity tools Outlook offers to help users prioritize messages.
Elsewhere in Windows and email application news
The announcement of Outlook for Mac is part of the usual slate of gradual changes, as Microsoft refines its current OS and partnership projects. Enterprise Windows users have had Windows 11’s latest update, version 22H2, since September 2022. Microsoft is working on adjusting how Microsoft Account management, widgets and other key functions work. Account management and widgets both touch Outlook capabilities.
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Windows has also made a change to its Windows Insider developer feedback channel, relaunching it as the Canary Channel. Meanwhile, Gmail recently rolled out client-side encryption for its enterprise subscribers.