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Outlook for Mac now free for everyone – really, truly

Outlook for Mac is now available to all, no payment or subscription required. It combines email, calendar and contacts in the one app.

Anyone with a recent Mac computer can install Outlook for Mac for email, calendar and contacts from the App Store.

All the common and most less-common email accounts are supported. Microsoft’s own Microsoft 365, and Hotmail (naturally). Gmail, Yahoo Mail or iCloud, Plus any mailbox with either IMAP or POP connections, which is everything else.

Not prominently mentioned by Microsoft is that some Outlook features (Windows or Mac) are only available for Microsoft hosted mailboxes.

‘New’ Outlook interface

The bad news is that Outlook for Mac defaults to what Microsoft calls the ‘new’ interface and we call the ‘over simplified’ and ‘dumbed down’ restricted ribbon like this.

Outlook for Mac’s interface with the dumbed-down, limited interface.

Maybe some people like having fewer options visible but many do not.

Free and unrestricted

Yes, Outlook for Mac is free.  Microsoft hasn’t disclosed any limitations or differences between Outlook for Mac features for free vs paid subscribers.

Predicably there are ‘in app purchases’ of Microsoft 365 plans.

Microsoft 365 subscribers don’t need to do anything because they already have the latest Outlook for Mac.

Office 2021/ 2019?

It’s not clear how this change affects people with Office 2021 or Office 2019 which already have an Outlook for Mac as part of their ‘perpetual licence’ plan.

There are some feature differences between Outlook 2021/2019 for Mac and the new Outlook for Mac. Most notably the newer interface.

Office 2021/2019 customers can stick with their current Outlook or try installing the free Outlook for Mac. We’d love to hear what happens.

Integration with macOS

There are some nice integrations with the macOS ‘look and feel’. There are Outlook Widgets for macOS and optional use of the Apple notification center (see Choose meeting reminders style in Outlook for Mac). Coming ‘soon’ is a menu bar ‘peek’.

Two existing and one promised Outlook for Mac feature. Source: Microsoft

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Which macOS?

Outlook for Mac works on macOS 11 (Big Sur – 2020) or later.

Microsoft’s policy is to support the current and previous two macOS releases.

Outlook for Mac can run alongside the Mac Mail/Calendar/Contact apps. That means you can try Outlook without affecting your current mailbox connections.

Apple Silicon (M1/M2) and Intel

Outlook for Mac works on both “flavors” of Mac, Apple Silicon (M1/M2) and the older Intel models.

Microsoft boasts that Outlook for Mac is a native macOS app “designed and optimized for macOS” and is “optimized for Apple Silicon”.

“Our” new Handoff feature

Outlook for Mac now support Apple’s Handoff feature. That means tasks or views can continue seamlessly between Outlook on a Mac and the iPhone/iPad Mobile Outlook apps.

Source: Microsoft

We’ve not tried this yet and will be interested to see how it works in practice. Handoff has specific hardware, software and setup requirements – details.

Microsoft got a little over-enthusiastic in their promo of Outlook for Mac, taking credit for Handoff!

“With our new Handoff feature, you can pick up tasks where you left off between iOS and Mac devices, so you can get up and go without missing a beat”

From Microsoft blog, our highlighting

Handoff isn’t a Microsoft feature, it’s an Apple creation.  All Microsoft has done is make Handoff work with Outlook for Mac and Outlook mobile apps (iPhone and iPad).

That’s good news but Microsoft shouldn’t take credit for the work of others, even if it’s a fellow corporate behemoth 😎.

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