The new Outlook for Mac app from Microsoft: 5 things to know

Microsoft Outlook for Mac users can implement a newly refined version of the popular email client. Here are five things you should know when working with the app.

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Most business professionals recognize Outlook for Mac as a standard business email client, but many may not know that Microsoft has a free program called Office Insider that provides early access to new releases. Early November 2019, Microsoft introduced the new Outlook for Mac features for those who had joined the Office Insider program.

Although new features are often eye candy and offer an updated user interface (UI), Microsoft Outlook updates for November Mac showed significant performance improvements and important new features – the goal is improved performance and productivity. When announcing the new Outlook version, Microsoft Tech Community author Jessica Wilczek commented that the new version “provides updates for email, search, and calendar experiences designed for simplicity, reliability, and customization.”

SEE: Microsoft HoloLens 2: a guide for insiders (TechRepublic download)

Here are five things to remember when working with the “new” Outlook for Mac app.

1. The performance has been improved.

The speed of e-mail and appointment synchronization is faster in the new Outlook for Mac program. Microsoft developers brought the macOS e-mail client the same Microsoft cloud-based sync engine that supports the Outlook platforms for iOS and Windows Mail; as a result, users – be they executives, managers or frontline employees – will notice that messages, appointments, and related information are synchronized and displayed faster.

2. Microsoft Search is embedded in the app.

Searches within the new Outlook for Mac app use the cloud sync technology, and because Microsoft Search is integrated into the new email client, queries yield relevant results faster. New advanced search filters, such as selecting specific periods, are another advantage. The search bar at the top of the screen now shows recent search strings and people. Anyone who has searched for email attachments or messages will appreciate these productivity improvements.

3. The My Day view helps with daily planning.

The Microsoft My Day feature, which users may recognize from using Microsoft To-Do, appears in Outlook for Mac with the new release (Figure A).

The new Office Insider version of Outlook for Mac presents a fresh user interface and improved performance, improved search and a new My Day view.

Image: Microsoft

My Day integration in the primary email view ensures that users’ messages, calendar, tasks and calendar highlights are visible at a glance – thereby improving productivity. In my personal experience, the new Outlook for Mac screen is less messy and the functions and information that are not often used are hidden, which simplifies the display with less distraction.

4. Messages are collected within one view.

Conversations – the practice of collecting all messages related to one email thread within a segmented view – became popular a few years ago. I initially opposed the default setting of the conversation view because I was used to reading email in the order it was received. But I have learned that collecting e-mail per conversation saves time and makes a better organization in the inbox possible.

Microsoft developers understand it clearly, since messages in the new Office Insider version of Outlook for Mac are merged into one view, regardless of where the message is located. The first few messages from a thread can be moved to different folders, but can still be viewed and quickly placed in the thread. Think about the email threads in which someone responds for days or even weeks thereafter; sorting is useful when locating related messages.

5. Groups are supported in the calendar.

Many business users will be familiar with Groups, which enables collections from multiple Office 365 members. With the new Outlook for Mac, users can create and manage group events in Outlook for personal and business calendars.

Although some components – Contacts, Tasks, Notes, Absence Functions and Rules – are not yet supported in the new version, other new functions justify trying the new Office Insider version. If you need access to one of the missing functions, click the radio button to switch to the previous version. My MacBook Pro 2017 only takes six or seven seconds to switch.

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