Most users possess a love or hate relationship with Microsoft Outlook. Regardless of opinion, Outlook remains Microsoft's email client solution. Much improved over Entourage days, Outlook has increasingly offered Mac users a more reliable email platform that's worked well within Microsoft Exchange environments, whether the Exchange server is located locally or of the cloud-based variety.
Outlook 2016 for Mac introduces a refreshed interface, which is normal, of course, for new Office applications. The real question as to an office suite's refinement comes in the exploration of new features, of which Outlook 2016 boasts many.
The new app adds push mail support, which means new inbound messages and calendar invitations will appear more rapidly within a user's inbox. While a few minutes' notification may seem unimportant, information arriving when the server receives the message or appointment rather than having to wait a predetermined period of time before checking for new messages and meetings makes for a more responsive application. And as everyone in modern business environments can attest, the more quickly information is received, the faster it can be acted upon.
The new 2016 version also includes improvements to threaded email conversations, in which messages possessing the same subject are grouped together. Outlook 2016 for Mac automatically organizes the inbox around threaded conversations, thereby simplifying the process of locating related messages. Often times, numerous messages are exchanged within the same thread. Other recipients will edit or truncate previous responses, making it difficult to confirm previous statements or reference information included in earlier emails. By grouping the messages together, this information (and others' responses) can more easily and readily be accessed.
The new Outlook for Mac client also changes the way preview messages appear. The new preview window that displays briefly when new emails arrive now includes the message's first sentence below the subject line to help users determine the message's importance and whether a need exists to respond quickly.
Using the 2016 Outlook platform, Mac users can help maintain their mailbox size by moving messages they choose from their inbox to an online archive. The online archive folder, available from the Outlook for Mac 2016 navigation pane, provides access to the archived messages, when required, while trimming the actual mailbox's size.
Microsoft also states Outlook's search features are better, making it easier to find relevant information within email messages, calendar appointments, contacts, and even email attachments. Outlook 2016 users can also more easily propose new times for meeting invitations that don't work well with their schedule.
Lastly, plus multiple calendars can be now viewed side-by-side, which is a long-present Windows feature that brings the time-saving views to the Mac. The Calendar view also shows the weather forecast, adding another elegant touch that, while seemingly small, proves surprisingly useful.
What do you think of Outlook 2016 for Mac? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.