The Bottom Line
Still, integration is not perfect, and Outlook for Mac could assist more by suggesting events (recognized from dates in emails), categories (recognized by how you've categorized in the past) and replies (recognized from what you've answered how) and search terms, for instance.
- Outlook for Mac is a fully capable information manager with superb email capabilities
- Search, smart folders, free-form categories and follow-up flags make sure you see the mail you need
- Outlook for Mac works seamlessly with Exchange accounts but handles IMAP and POP email just as well
- Outlook for Mac lacks self-learning tools for categorizing or suggesting replies
- Constructing advanced searches and smart folders is a tad cryptic and cumbersome
- Outlook for Mac's many tools can seem disjointed, and integration between them could be higher
- Outlook for Mac managers your Exchange, IMAP and POP email accounts as well as calendars, contacts, to-do lists.
- A unified inbox displays all your accounts' mail, and a conversation view shows related messages no matter the folder.
- You can categorize messages with color labels, and mark them for follow-up (which creates a to-do item to complete).
- Outlook for Mac search finds mail, events and other items using various criteria. You can save searches as smart folders.
- Rules let you automate Outlook for Mac's handling mail (to, e.g., file, categorize, delete, announce mail or run AppleScript)
- Outlook for Mac lets you send mail in plain text or using rich formatting tools. A media browser shows photos and more.
- Information Rights Management lets you read and create messages with restricted access (to, e.g., prevent forwarding).
- Outlook for Mac synchronizes calendar, contacts, tasks and notes via Exchange and with iCal, Address Book and Mail.
- Outlook for Mac supports Mac OS X 10.5/6.
Guide Review - Outlook for Mac 2011 14.1 Review - Email Program
Outlook for Mac's email part comes with a classic folders — messages — reading layout. A tab of ribbons lets you take the most important actions and mend the display to your needs.
The options to control the influx of mail are many: you can change the sort order, of course, or have Outlook for Mac show only certain messages — unread mail, e.g., or attachments; you can toggle threading, search, apply rules and flag messages for follow-up.
So many tools can make Outlook for Mac's interface — and using it — feel a tad disjointed. Sorting a folder and filtering it are on different ribbons, for instance, and rules different matter altogether. You can categorize with custom, colored labels or flag messages — only in red but creating a task.
Still, so many tools are useful. Categories allow for quickly identifying messages and holding them in more than one bucket. Outlook for Mac does not come with shortcuts to finding all mail or items with a certain category, but setting up a smart folder to hold all a category's email, task, meeting and more is easy. Follow-up flags create a new task for the email you're flagging; unfortunately, this is the only way to turn emails into to-dos — there's no highlighting part of an email or date recognition for appointments.
Outlook for Mac search is spiffy and swift, for the most part. A simple general search field accepts your terms and lets you restrict searches to sender, subject, recipient, date and category immediately. After results appear, you can pick from many more a cranny in which to look (priority, read status or size, for instance), and construct quite complex searches. This is all the more useful as any search can be saved to a smart folder easily. The folder then shows all items matching its criteria automatically. Unfortunately, Outlook for Mac does not auto-complete email addresses or subjects it knows, and setting up more complex rules is not trivial.
Using rules, you can have Outlook for Mac handle messages with much versatility for criteria and actions alike. What rules cannot do, of course, is reading the mail for you and compose replies. Unfortunately, Outlook for Mac does not try to learn from your actions to help you categorize mail either, though, find important mail or find oft-repeated reply text.
What Outlook for Mac does find, in turn, are messages in a conversation — no matter the folder. The conversation view it constructs is helpful enough, though Outlook for Mac does not clean up emails to hide or delete quoted text, does not show the tree structure of a thread and always opens emails from another folder in separate windows.
Adding to threads by composing messages, Outlook for Mac does well. A media browser (including the iLife applications) lets you insert photos, sounds and videos, Outlook for Mac formats text richly or in clean plain text, and a handy scrapbook lets you save and re-use text snippets.