Outlook for Mac gets ‘View Source’ plus a big dose of humbug

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Sometimes Microsoft gets over-enthusiastic about some ‘new’ feature. Other times they treat their customers like fools.  Redmond chose the latter approach to promote a mere ‘catch up’ feature coming to Outlook for Mac.

We were intrigued by this boast on an official Microsoft Twitter account about a new Outlook for Mac feature.

“ Easily check to see if an email is a spam or a phishing message with a spoofed address.”

Source: Twitter

That would be a great addition to Outlook, some way to warn that an incoming message wasn’t what it appeared.  A spoofed address is when numbers or symbols are used to fake a From: address, e.g. instead of  [email protected] a spoofed version could be [email protected].

Tricks like that have fooled people into paying fake invoices or transferring large amounts like Email invoice scams, protect yourself and don’t lose money

View Source comes to Outlook for Mac

That’s not what’s on offer at all.  This ‘easy’ check is just the addition of ‘View Source’ as coming feature in Outlook 365 for Mac.  

‘View Source’ lets you see the original ‘raw’ email with message header.  That can be useful for experts checking if a message is legitimate but it’s hardly ‘Easily check’.

The actual blog post continues this over-egging saying:

“ Viewing all the information about the source of an email is one of the best ways to check its authenticity and assess whether it’s a spam or phishing message with a spoofed address.”

At least the blog doesn’t suggest it’s easy just that it’s a ‘best way’.

If you don’t know about View Source (which has been in Windows Outlook for years), this is what you’ll see and what Microsoft thinks is an ‘easy’ or ‘best’ way to check for spoofing.

Source: Microsoft

Reading email message headers isn’t easy and arguably harder than closely looking at the From address in the regular Outlook display. There’s a nifty tool to make sense of an email header.

View Source can also be handy if the email formatting is strange. It lets you look at the raw HTML or plain text before it’s rendered by a mail client.

Why not try honesty?

Microsoft can’t help themselves and find some way to hype this ‘catch up’ addition to Outlook 365 for Mac. They couldn’t just admit that ‘View Source’ was another thing missing from the Mac version of Office that Microsoft is finally adding after many years and versions.

Some variation of  “we continue to listen to customers … blah, blah” gets the same message across with the bonus of not insulting long-suffering Office for Mac paying customers.

On the upside …

Outlook for Mac’s version of ‘View Source’ is much better than the Outlook for Windows equivalent.

In Outlook for Windows ‘View Source’ only shows the raw message body (usually HTML) at Message | Move | More | Other Actions | View Source. The vital message header is visible elsewhere (File | Properties | Internet Header).

At least the Mac version shows the entire source message, header and body.

Who gets View Source in Outlook for Mac?

It available to Beta Channel users with v16.51 build 21062402 who switch to the ‘new look’ but still woefully incomplete Outlook 365.  Even then, ‘View Source’ is gradually rolled out to a greater percentage of the beta users.

Email invoice scams, protect yourself and don’t lose money
Make sense of an Outlook email header

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