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What Is Microsoft Outlook?

The email program is available in different ways, depending on your requirements

Microsoft Outlook icon on a laptop screen

Microsoft Outlook is primarily used to send and receive emails. It’s also used to keep track of personal data such as calendar appointments and similar entries, tasks, contacts, and notes. Microsoft Outlook is not free; you must either buy it outright or subscribe to it if you want to use it.

Outlook is an email program that allows users to send and receive emails on their computers. This program is far more feature-rich, with better corporate support and capabilities not available in the free edition. An example of Microsoft Outlook is below.

The Evolution of Microsoft Outlook

A screenshot of the Microsoft Outlook Express interface

Microsoft Outlook was released to the public in 1997 as part of Microsoft Office 97. Outlook Express came standard with Windows XP (the only free version). Since then, Microsoft has released numerous updates with more features than before.

Many Microsoft Office software suites include Outlook, including Office 2010, 2013, 2016, and Microsoft 365. It’s important to mention that not all versions include Outlook. Microsoft Outlook, for example, is available in Microsoft 365 Family & Personal but not in Office Home & Student 2019 and Office Home & Student 2021 for PC or Mac.

Note: Microsoft Outlook is a paid app that you download and install on your device. An Outlook email is a free email address provided by Microsoft. You can access it via the Outlook webmail portal at https://outlook.live.com/.

Do You Need Microsoft Outlook?

A screenshot of the Mail app in Windows 10

You don’t need to buy Microsoft Outlook if all you want to do is send and receive emails. You can use the Mail application with Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11 to send and receive emails for free. You can also access your email through the website of your provider (for example, https://mail.google.com/mail/). If you need to do more than that, you’ll need a more powerful email management program.

Microsoft Outlook allows you to sync your personal data with your phone, tablet, and other computers as long as you can log in with your Microsoft Account on those devices. You can sort your email into folders using rules you create, send Out Of Office messages automatically, flag emails for follow-up, and receive emails from Exchange servers. You can also postpone email delivery, request receipts, and do other things. Even if you are not in the office, you can receive work and personal emails from the same Microsoft Outlook application. That is not possible with the Mail app included with Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11.

You can also integrate your data with Microsoft Outlook. It comes with an address book, a calendar, a task list, and virtual sticky notes. What you enter into the calendar can be synced to your other devices. Calendars can also be shared and delegated. You have the option of delegating tasks to others.

Do You Have Microsoft Outlook?

You may already have a copy of Microsoft Outlook on your computer, tablet, or phone. You should know before making a purchase.

To check if you have Microsoft Outlook installed on your devices, do the following:

On Windows

1. From the Search window on the Taskbar (Windows 10 & Windows 11), the Start screen (Windows 8.1), or from the Search window on the Start menu (Windows 7), enter Outlook and press Enter.

The search box in Windows 11

2. Look for an entry for Microsoft Outlook.

Searching for Outlook in Windows 11

On Mac

To check if you have a version of Outlook on your Mac:

1. Open Finder from the dock and Select Applications.

Selecting Applications in the Finder in macOS

2. Locate Microsoft Office or Microsoft Outlook.

On Phone

Perform a search from any search area to see if you have Outlook on your phone.

Where to Get Microsoft Outlook

A screenshot of how to Sign up for and install Microsoft 365
Sign up for and install Microsoft 365. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Suppose you are confident that you do not already have a Microsoft Office suite that includes Outlook. In that case, you can get the most recent version with Microsoft 365 subscription. Microsoft 365, on the other hand, is a monthly subscription service. If you don’t want to pay for a subscription, consider buying Microsoft Outlook outright.

Note: Some employers, community colleges, and universities provide Microsoft 365 free of cost to their employees and students.

At the Microsoft Store, you can compare and buy all the available editions and suites. Microsoft Outlook is also available to purchase in the Office Suites listed below:

Additionally:

  • You can buy Microsoft Outlook separately for PC or Mac.

Once you’ve decided to buy, follow the steps to download the installation files. After that, launch the installation program. If you go with Microsoft 365, it’s simple and mostly error-free.

Microsoft Outlook Has Lots of Identities

A screenshot of Microsoft Outlook 2021 home screen

People refer to Microsoft Outlook in several ways and use various terms. That leads to misunderstandings about Microsoft Outlook, simply a single application for managing email and other personal data. However, for the sake of completeness, please remember that people may also refer to Microsoft Outlook in the following ways:

  • Outlook
  • Outlook 365
  • Outlook email
  • Microsoft email
  • Outlook Express
  • Outlook Online
  • Outlook Hotmail
  • Microsoft Office email

RELATED: How to Uninstall Outlook on Windows or Mac


What’s the difference between Outlook and Gmail?

Both Outlook and Gmail allow you to access your messages via POP3 or IMAP. Outlook allows you to configure multiple email providers, whereas people with Google’s email service primarily use Gmail. Gmail is free and provides a more streamlined experience, whereas Outlook has more features but requires a subscription.

Can I download Microsoft Outlook for free?

Is Outlook available for free? When it comes to Outlook, there are two free options. A 30-day free trial. A completely free browser-based version of Outlook with advertisements and limited features.

How do I access my Outlook email?

Open your browser, go to the Outlook.com sign-in page and click the Sign in button. Next, enter your email address or phone number. Clear the box next to Keep me signed in on the Enter password page. Enter your password and click the Sign in button.

What is Outlook for iOS?

Microsoft Outlook for iOS is an email client designed for the iPhone and iPad. It’s handy for people who use Outlook on the desktop and want to access their emails on an iOS device. It’s free to download from the App Store.

What is my Outlook email address?

In Microsoft Outlook, go to File > Account Settings > Account Settings > Email tab to find your connected email address(es). Or select your profile photo in the upper-right corner to find your Outlook.com email address, located beneath your name.

What’s my Outlook password?

Your Outlook password is determined by the email service linked to your Outlook account. For example, if you use Gmail, your password is the same one you use to sign in to your Google account. Select Forgot password on the email log-in screen to recover a Gmail password or any other forgotten password.


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