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What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)

Email
is a huge part of most people’s day. According to one source, the average
business person sends
and receives over 100 messages a day
. We rely on email so much, that many
of check it constantly—even when
we’re in the bathroom or in bed
.

With so much time spent on email, obviously the email
package we choose is important. There are a lot of email systems out there and
one of the most popular is Microsoft Outlook.

Are
you thinking about using MS Outlook or does your company already use Outlook?
If so, you need to know what Microsoft Outlook is used for. That’s where this
tutorial can help.

You
may be aware that Microsoft Outlook is an email package that’s part of the
Microsoft Office productivity suite. What you may not know is that it can do
much more than just send and receive email messages.

In
this tutorial, you’ll learn all about Outlook. We’ll define Outlook for you.
You’ll discover what Outlook is used for. Plus, we’ll discuss the difference
between Microsoft Outlook and Outlook.com.

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Before going further in learning how to use Microsoft Outlook, be sure to grab our Free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It’s packed with inbox
organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email
more efficiently.

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Now let’s learn what Outlook is and how it’s used. 

What
Is Outlook Email?

You may wonder what Microsoft Outlook is. You probably
already know that it’s email software included with a paid Microsoft Office
subscription. And you’d be right. But Outlook has more capabilities than just
email.

Outlook
can help you organize your schedule with a calendar and task lists, store
contact information, send reminders, and more. It’s no wonder that Outlook is
often referred to as a personal information manager (PIM).

If
you’re considering using Outlook for your organizational and email needs, it’s
important to understand that there may be some differences in the tool
depending on which version you’ve got. Outlook has been around since the late
1990s, and there’ve been a lot of changes over the years. With older versions,
there may be some differences in the user interface and some of the newer
features may be missing. For the purposes of this series of tutorials, we’ll be
talking about MS Outlook 2016.

If
you don’t have Microsoft Office but want to use Outlook, don’t worry. You can
use Microsoft’s free web-based email, Outlook.com. The web-based version has
many of the same features as the desktop version of Outlook, although there are
some differences. (If you had a Hotmail or Windows Live account, you may have
it already since those accounts were converted to Outlook.com)

What Is Outlook.com?

Do you know the difference between Outlook.com and Microsoft Outlook?

Many
people refer to Outlook email when they’re actually talking about the free
web-based Outlook.com email software. Not only are the names of the two
software packages similar, they also share some functionality. But there are
some major differences.

Here’s
what you need to know about the differences between MS Outlook and Outlook.com:

  1. Cost. MS
    Outlook is part of your paid Microsoft Office subscription, which also includes
    the latest Office software. Outlook.com, is a free web-based email package with
    some of the features of Outlook.
  2. Ads. MS
    Outlook has no ads. The Outlook.com interface, on the other hand, does have visible
    ads (although they’re kept to a minimum).
  3. Your own server. Outlook
    can be configured to run on your own mail server, making it ideal for companies
    and organizations. Outlook.com runs on the web.
  4. Inbox size. Outlook.com users have up to 15 GB storage
    space. MS Office 365 users get 50 GB of storage to start. (Outlook users
    operating with a Microsoft Enterprise account may have even more space.)
  5. Attachment size. The
    combined file size limit for Outlook.com is 20 MB. For business Outlook
    accounts, the combined file limit also starts at 20 MB. You can learn how to handle
    large email attachments in Outlook
    with this tutorial.
  6. Technical support. Outlook.com
    doesn’t include phone support, although you can contact support via contact
    form. You may also be able to find answers to your questions here.
    With recent versions of MS Office (which includes Outlook), however, you can
    reach a support professional by phone.

Still,
if you’re looking for a basic free email package to meet your needs
Outlook.com may fit the bill. For a comparison between Outlook.com and Gmail
(another free email package) study this tutorial:

Note: Unless otherwise noted, this tutorial refers to Microsoft Outlook (available
with Microsoft Office) and not the web-based Outlook.com. Although, some
features do work for both email platforms.

Microsoft
Outlook Advantages

If
you’re using Microsoft Outlook for your email or information management needs,
congratulations. It’s a solid choice—and you’re not alone. According to Microsoft by the
numbers
there are over a billion Microsoft Office users worldwide. That
means there are a lot of Outlook users.

There
are some definite benefits to using Microsoft Outlook compared to other email
providers. Here are just a few:

 

  • Popular in many large organizations. Research from iDatalabs indicates that over 40,000
    companies use Microsoft Outlook
    worldwide. What this means is that if you
    understand how to use Outlook, you’ve already got a useful skill for many
    workplaces.
  • Works well with MS Exchange. Microsoft
    exchange is an enterprise-level server used by schools, businesses, and other
    large organizations.
  • Compatible with popular software. Naturally,
    Outlook works seamlessly with Microsoft Office. But it also works well with
    many other add-ins available through the Microsoft
    office store
    .
  • Includes organizational tools. Even
    without add-ins, Outlook includes its own organizational tools such as an
    address book and calendar.
  • Good security. Outlook
    has many security features. For example, it offers two-factor authentication,
    message encryption, and the ability to see recent account activity.
  • Technical support. Microsoft
    offers technical telephone support (additional cost for some plans), which is
    available 24/7. If you’ve got a problem, this is a huge advantage.

What
Is Microsoft Outlook Used For?

We’ve
already touched on some of the uses of Microsoft outlook, but here’s a more
complete list:

  • Email. This
    is probably the most basic use of Outlook. Use it to send and receive email
    messages.
  • Calendar. Use
    the built-in Outlook calendar to schedule and track your appointments and
    meetings. You can even schedule reminders for yourself. Calendars can also be
    shared.
  • Address book. Never
    lose a contact’s information again. Outlook not only lets you store email
    information for your contacts, but also other information such as phone numbers
    and mailing addresses.
  • To do list. You
    can use MS Outlook to set up a task list for yourself.
  • Track sent messages. You
    can request a receipt for a message you send that tells you whether the message
    has been received or read. (This varies depending on the recipient’s email system.)
  • Send attachments. If
    you’ve got images or documents you need to send, you can attach them to an email
    message.
  • Schedule resources. If
    you’re using Outlook at work, control who uses conference rooms or shared equipment
    by adding them to meetings.
  • Sort messages using rules. The
    MS Outlook Rules tool is a handy way to automatically perform a number of
    tasks, but it’s at its best when used to filter and file messages
    automatically.
  • Add graphic elements. Using
    MS Office’s Smart Art capability, you can add images to the body of your emails
    and customize them from within the email.
  • Share your desktop in an email. Having
    a problem with an App? This little-known feature lets you take a screenshot
    from within email and insert it in your message.
  • Have live conversations. Office
    communicator lets you instant message your contacts if they’re available.

And
of course, there are many other ways to use Outlook as well. You can probably
think of a few uses that are specific to your situation.

Get
Started With MS Outlook

If
you’re using Outlook at your school or workplace, it may already be set up for
you. Or you may be asked to work with your organization’s IT specialist to set
up Outlook email.

If
you’re a small business, solo professional, or if you’re setting up Outlook for
home use—it’s
up to you to set up your email system. These instructions from Microsoft can
help you get your email account set up. 

Once
your Outlook email is set up, this in-depth tutorial shows you how to write
your first email:

You
can find additional Outlook tutorials in our learning guide series, How
to Use Microsoft Outlook (Essential Tutorial Guide)
. There are two ways to
use the learning guide:

  1. Go through each tutorial for a more complete
    mastery of using MS Outlook.
  2. Pick
    and choose only the Outlook tutorials you need or that interest you.

How
to Make Your Outlook Messages More Professional

Once
you’ve started using Microsoft Outlook as your email package, you’ll want to
make sure that your email messages are as professional as possible so that you
make a good impression. Here’s a list of email tutorials that will teach you
how to write professional emails on a variety of subjects:

More Helpful Email Tips and Strategies

Don’t forget to sign up to the Tuts+ Business newsletter and grab our free eBookThe Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It’s packed with inbox organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more efficiently. 

Free Inbox Zero eBook

Conclusion

As you’ve discovered, MS Outlook is a powerful Pro email
software tool. Now that we’ve explained what Outlook is and what Outlook is
used for, you’ve got the information you need to decide whether it’s for you.

Whether you decide to use Microsoft Outlook on your own or
you’re working for a company that uses Outlook, there are some definite benefits
to using Microsoft Outlook compared to other email providers. 

Why not get started today?