Microsoft Outlook

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Microsoft Outlook
Microsoft Office Outlook (2018–present).svg
An email inbox in Outlook (365-only UI version), running on Windows 10
An email inbox in Outlook (365-only UI version), running on Windows 10
Developer(s)Microsoft Corporation
Stable release(s)
Office 3652001 (16.0.12430.20264) / February 11, 2020; 13 days ago (2020-02-11)[1]
One-time purchase2019 (16.0) / September 24, 2018; 17 months ago (2018-09-24)[2]
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
TypePersonal information manager
Microsoft Outlook for Mac
Outlook for Mac 2016
Outlook for Mac 2016
Developer(s)Microsoft Corporation
Stable release
16.32 (Build 19120802) / December 10, 2019; 2 months ago (2019-12-10)[3]
Operating systemmacOS
TypePersonal information manager
LicenseProprietary commercial software
Microsoft Outlook for Android
Developer(s)Microsoft Corporation
Stable release
4.0.60 / November 5, 2019; 3 months ago (2019-11-05)[4]
Operating systemAndroid 5.0 and later
TypePersonal information manager
LicenseProprietary commercial software
Microsoft Outlook for iOS
Developer(s)Microsoft Corporation
Stable release
4.9.0 / October 28, 2019; 3 months ago (2019-10-28)[5]
Operating systemiOS
TypePersonal information manager
LicenseProprietary commercial software

Microsoft Outlook is a personal information manager from Microsoft, available as a part of the Microsoft Office suite. Primarily an email application, it also includes a calendar, task manager, contact manager, note taking, journal, and web browsing.

It can be used as a stand-alone application, or can work with Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SharePoint Server for multiple users in an organization, such as shared mailboxes and calendars, Exchange public folders, SharePoint lists, and meeting schedules. Microsoft has also released mobile applications for most mobile platforms, including iOS and Android. Developers can also create their own custom software that works with Outlook and Office components using Microsoft Visual Studio.[6] In addition, Windows Phone devices can synchronize almost all Outlook data to Outlook Mobile.


Microsoft Outlook has replaced Microsoft's previous scheduling and mail programs, Schedule+ and Exchange Client.

Perpetual versions of Microsoft Outlook include:

Name Version number[7] Release date[8] Notes
Outlook 97 8.0 January 16, 1997 Included in Office 97 and bundled with Exchange Server 5.0 and 5.5
Outlook 98 8.5 June 21, 1998 Freely distributed with books and magazines for coping with then newest Internet standard such as HTML mail.[9] Outlook 98 setup was based on Active Setup which also installed Internet Explorer 4.[10]
Outlook 2000 9.0 June 27, 1999 Included in Office 2000 and bundled with Exchange 2000 Server.
Outlook 2002 10 May 31, 2001 Included in Office XP
Outlook 2003 11 November 20, 2003 Included in Office 2003 (incl. Standard Edition for Students and Teachers) and bundled with Exchange Server 2003
Outlook 2007 12 January 27, 2007 Included in Office 2007, except Office Home and Student edition
Outlook 2010 14 July 15, 2010 Included in Office 2010 Home and Business, Standard, Professional and Professional Plus
Outlook 2011 for Mac 14 October 26, 2010 Included in Office for Mac 2011 Home and Business
Outlook 2013 15 January 29, 2013 Included in Office 2013, except Home & Student edition
Outlook for Mac 16 October 31, 2014 Included in Office 365, except some[which?] commercial editions
Outlook 2016 16 September 22, 2015 Included in Office 2016 and Office 365
Outlook 2016 for Mac 16 September 25, 2015 Included in Office 2016 and Office 365
Outlook 2019 16 September 24, 2018 Included in Office 2019 and Office 365
Outlook 2019 for Mac 16 September 24, 2018 Included in Office 2019 and Office 365
Outlook for Phones & Tablets 1.3 2015 Included in Office 365, except some[which?] commercial editions

Includes iOS and Android support

Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 offer two configurations:

  • Internet Mail Only or IMO mode: A lighter application mode with specific emphasis on POP3 accounts and IMAP accounts and including a lightweight Fax application.
  • Corporate Workgroup or CW mode: A full MAPI client with specific emphasis on Microsoft Exchange accounts.

Microsoft Windows[edit]

Outlook 2002[edit]

Outlook 2002 introduced these new features:[11]

  • AutoComplete for email addresses
  • Colored categories for calendar items
  • Group schedules
  • Hyperlink support in email subject lines
  • Native support for (formerly Hotmail)
  • Improved search functionality including the ability to stop a search and resume it later
  • Lunar calendar support
  • MSN Messenger integration
  • Performance improvements[12]
  • Preview pane improvements including the ability to open hyperlinks; respond to meeting requests; and display email properties without opening a message
  • Reminder window that consolidates all reminders for appointments and tasks in a single view
  • Retention policies for documents and email
  • Security improvements including the automatic blocking of potentially unsafe attachments and of programmatic access to information in Outlook
  • Smart tags when Word is configured as the default email editor. This option was available only when the versions of Outlook and Word were the same, e.g. both were 2002.

Outlook 2003[edit]

Outlook 2003 introduced these new features:[16]

Outlook 2007[edit]

The main Outlook 2007 interface with its menus and toolbars.
Outlook 2007 with options for text message composition. The left-hand side depicts a preview of how the message will appear on the recipient's phone.

Features that debuted in Outlook 2007 include:[20]

  • Attachment preview, with which the contents of attachments can be previewed before opening
  • Auto Account Setup, which allows users to enter a username and password for an email account without entering a server name, port number, or other information
  • Calendar sharing improvements including the ability to export a calendar as an HTML file—for viewing by users without Outlook—and the ability to publish calendars to an external service (e.g., Office Web Apps) with an online provider (e.g., Microsoft account)
  • Colored categories with support for user roaming, which replace colored (quick) flags introduced in Outlook 2003[22]
  • Improved email spam filtering and anti-phishing features
    • Postmark intends to reduce spam by making it difficult and time consuming to send it
  • Information rights management improvements with Windows Rights Management Services and managed policy compliance integration with Exchange Server 2007
  • Japanese Yomi name support for contacts
  • Multiple calendars can be overlaid with one another to assess details such as potential scheduling conflicts
  • Ribbon (Office Fluent) interface
  • Outlook Mobile Service support, which allowed multimedia and SMS text messages to be sent directly to mobile phones[23]
  • Instant search through Windows Search, an index-based desktop search platform
    • Instant search functionality is also available in Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2003 if these versions are installed alongside Windows Search[24]
  • Integrated RSS aggregation
  • Support for Windows SideShow with the introduction of a calendar gadget[25]
  • To-Do Bar that consolidates calendar information, flagged email, and tasks from OneNote 2007, Outlook 2007, Project 2007, and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 websites within a central location.
  • The ability to export items as PDF or XPS files
  • Unified messaging support with Exchange Server 2007 with features such as missed call notifications, and voicemail with voicemail preview with Windows Media Player[25]
  • Word 2007 replaces Internet Explorer as the default viewer for HTML email[22], and becomes the default email editor in this and all subsequent versions.

Outlook 2010[edit]

Features that debuted in Outlook 2010 include:[26]

  • Additional command-line switches
  • An improved conversation view that groups messages based on different criteria regardless of originating folders
  • IMAP messages are sent to the Deleted Items folder, eliminating the need to mark messages for future deletion
  • Notification when email is about to be sent without a subject
  • Quick Steps, individual collections of commands that allow users to perform multiple actions simultaneously
  • Ribbon interface in all views
  • Search Tools contextual tab on the ribbon that appears when performing searches and that includes basic or advanced criteria filters
  • Social Connector to connect to various social networks and aggregate appointments, contacts, communication history, and file attachments
  • Spell check in additional areas of the user interface
  • Support for multiple Exchange accounts in a single Outlook profile
  • The ability to schedule a meeting with a contact by replying to an email message
  • To-Do Bar enhancements including visual indicators for conflicts and unanswered meeting requests
  • Voice mail transcripts for Unified Messaging communications
  • Zooming user interface for calendar and mail views

Outlook 2013[edit]

Features that debuted in Outlook 2013, which was released on January 29, 2013, include:

  • Attachment reminder
  • Exchange ActiveSync(EAS)
  • Add-in resiliency
  • Cached Exchange mode improvements
  • IMAP improvements
  • Outlook data file(.ost) compression
  • People hub
  • Startup performance improvements

Outlook 2016[edit]

Features that debuted in Outlook 2016, include:[27]

  • Attachment link to cloud resource
  • Groups redesign
  • Search cloud
  • Clutter Folder
  • Email Address Internationalization
  • Scalable Vector Graphics

Outlook 2019[edit]


Microsoft also released several versions of Outlook for classic Mac OS, though it was only for use with Exchange servers. It was not provided as a component of Microsoft Office for Mac, but instead made available to users from administrators or by download. The final version was Outlook for Mac 2001, which was fairly similar to Outlook 2000 and 2002 apart from being exclusively for Exchange users.

Microsoft Entourage was introduced as an Outlook-like application for Mac OS in Office 2001, but it lacked Exchange connectivity. Partial support for Exchange server became available natively in Mac OS X with Entourage 2004 Service Pack 2. Entourage is not directly equivalent to Outlook in terms of design or operation; rather, it is a distinct application which has several overlapping features including Exchange client capabilities. Somewhat improved Exchange support was added in Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition.

Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011

Entourage was replaced by Outlook for Mac 2011, which features greater compatibility and parity with Outlook for Windows than Entourage offered. It is the first native version of Outlook for macOS.

Outlook 2011 initially supported Mac OS X's Sync Services only for contacts, not events, tasks or notes. It also does not have a Project Manager equivalent to that in Entourage.[28] With Service Pack 1 (v 14.1.0), published on April 12, 2011, Outlook can now sync calendar, notes and tasks with Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010.

On October 31, 2014, Microsoft released Outlook for Mac (v15.3 build 141024) with Office 365 (a software as a service licensing program that makes Office programs available as soon as they are developed). Outlook for Mac 15.3 improves upon its predecessors with:[29]

  • Better performance and reliability as a result of a new threading model and database improvements.
  • A new modern user interface with improved scrolling and agility when switching between Ribbon tabs.
  • Online archive support for searching Exchange (online or on-premises) archived mail.
  • Master Category List support and enhancements delivering access to category lists (name and color) and sync between Mac, Microsoft Windows and OWA clients.
  • Office 365 push email support for real-time email delivery.
  • Faster first-run and email download experience with improved Exchange Web Services syncing.[29]

iOS and Android[edit]

Outlook for phones and tablets[edit]

In January 2015, Microsoft released Outlook for phones and for tablets (v1.3 build) with Office 365.[30] This was the first Outlook for these platforms with email, calendar, and contacts.

Internet standards compliance[edit]

HTML rendering[edit]

Outlook 2007 was the first Outlook to switch from Internet Explorer rendering engine to Microsoft Word 2007's. This meant that HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) items not handled by Word were no longer supported. On the other hand, HTML messages composed in Word look as they appeared to the author.[31] This affects publishing newsletters and reports, because they frequently use intricate HTML and CSS to form their layout. For example, forms can no longer be embedded in email.

Support of CSS properties and HTML attributes[edit]

Outlook for Windows has very limited CSS support compared to various other e-mail clients. Neither CSS1 (1996) nor CSS2 (1998) specifications are fully implemented and many CSS properties can only to be used with certain HTML elements for the desired effect.[32] Some HTML attributes help achieve proper rendering of e-mails in Outlook, but most of these attributes are already deprecated in the HTML 4.0 specifications (1997).[33] In order to achieve the best compatibility with Outlook, most HTML e-mails are created using multiple boxed tables, as the table element and its sub-elements support the width and height property in Outlook. No improvements have been made towards a more standards-compliant email client since the release of Outlook 2007.[34]

Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format[edit]

Outlook and Exchange Server internally handle messages, appointments and items as objects in a data model which is derived from the old proprietary Microsoft Mail system, the Rich Text Format from Microsoft Word and the complex OLE general data model.[35] When these programs interface with other protocols such as the various Internet and X.400 protocols, they try to map this internal model onto those protocols in a way that can be reversed if the ultimate recipient is also running Outlook or Exchange.[36]

This focus on the possibility that emails and other items will ultimately be converted back to Microsoft Mail format is so extreme that if Outlook/Exchange cannot figure out a way to encode the complete data in the standard format, it simply encodes the entire message/item in a proprietary binary format called Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format (TNEF) and sends this as an attached file (usually named "winmail.dat") to an otherwise incomplete rendering of the mail/item. If the recipient is Outlook/Exchange it can simply discard the incomplete outer message and use the encapsulated data directly, but if the recipient is any other program, the message received will be incomplete because the data in the TNEF attachment will be of little use without the Microsoft software for which it was created.[36] As a workaround, numerous tools for partially decoding TNEF files exist.

Calendar compatibility[edit]

Outlook does not fully support data and syncing specifications for calendaring and contacts, such as iCalendar, CalDAV, SyncML, and vCard 3.0. Outlook 2007 claims to be fully iCalendar compliant; however, it does not support all core objects, such as VTODO or VJOURNAL.[37] Also, Outlook supports vCard 2.1 and does not support multiple contacts in the vCard format as a single file. Outlook has also been criticized for having proprietary "Outlook extensions" to these Internet standards.

Security concerns[edit]

As part of its Trustworthy Computing initiative, Microsoft took corrective steps to fix Outlook's reputation in Office Outlook 2003. Among the most publicized security features are that Office Outlook 2003 does not automatically load images in HTML emails or permit opening executable attachments by default, and includes a built-in Junk Mail filter.[38] Service Pack 2 has augmented these features and adds an anti-phishing filter.[39]

Outlook add-ins[edit]

Outlook add-ins are small helping programs for the Microsoft Outlook application. The main purpose of the add-ins is to add new functional capabilities into Microsoft Outlook and automate some routine operations. The term also refers to programs where the main function is to work on Outlook files, such as synchronization or backup utilities. Outlook add-ins may be developed in Microsoft Visual Studio or third-party tools such as Add-in Express. Outlook add-ins are not supported in Outlook Web App.

From Outlook 97 on, Exchange Client Extensions are supported in Outlook. Outlook 2000 and later support specific COM components called Outlook AddIns. The exact supported features (such as .NET components) for later generations were extended with each release.

SalesforceIQ Inbox for Outlook[edit]

In March 2016, Salesforce announced that its relationship intelligence platform, SalesforceIQ, would be able to seamlessly integrate with Outlook.[40] SalesforceIQ works from inside the Outlook inbox providing data from CRM, email and customer social profiles. It also provides recommendations within the inbox on various aspects like meeting scheduling, contacts, responses etc.

Hotmail Connector[edit]

Hotmail Connector setup screen

Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector (formerly Microsoft Office Outlook Connector), is a discontinued and defunct free add-in for Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010, intended to integrate (formerly Hotmail) into Microsoft Outlook. It uses DeltaSync, a proprietary Microsoft communications protocol that Hotmail formerly used.[41]

In version 12, access to tasks and notes and online synchronization with MSN Calendar is only available to MSN subscribers of paid premium accounts. Version 12.1, released in December 2008 as an optional upgrade, uses Windows Live Calendar instead of the former MSN Calendar. This meant that calendar features became free for all users, except for tasks synchronization which became unavailable. In April 2008, version 12.1 became a required upgrade to continue using the service as part of a migration from MSN Calendar to Windows Live Calendar.[42]

Microsoft Outlook 2013 and later have intrinsic support for accessing and its calendar over the Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) protocol,[43] while older versions of Microsoft Outlook can read and synchronize emails over the IMAP protocol.[44]

Social Connector[edit]

Outlook Social Connector was a free add-in for Microsoft Outlook 2003 and 2007 by Microsoft that allowed integration of social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Windows Live Messenger into Microsoft Outlook.[45] It was first introduced in November 18, 2009.[46] Starting with Microsoft Office 2010, Outlook Social Connector is an integral part of Outlook.[47]

CardDAV and CalDAV Connector[edit]

Since Microsoft Outlook does not support CalDAV and CardDAV protocol along the way, various third-party software vendors developed Outlook add-ins to enable users synchronizing with CalDAV and CardDAV servers. CalConnect has a list[48] of software that enable users to synchronize their calendars with CalDAV servers/contacts with CardDAV servers.

Importing from other email clients[edit]

Traditionally, Outlook supported importing messages from Outlook Express and Lotus Notes. In addition, Microsoft Outlook supports POP3 and IMAP protocols, enabling users to import mails from servers that support these protocols, such as Gmail or Rackspace Email. Microsoft Hotmail Connector add-in (described above) helps importing email from Hotmail accounts. Outlook 2013 later integrated the functionality of this add-in and added the ability to import email (as well as calendar) through Exchange ActiveSync protocol.[43]

There are some ways to get the emails from Thunderbird; the first is to use a tool[49] that can convert a Thunderbird folder to a format that can be imported from Outlook Express. This method must be processed folder by folder. The other method is to use a couple of free tools that keep the original folder structure.[50] If Exchange is available, an easier method is to connect the old mail client (Thunderbird) to Exchange using IMAP, and upload the original mail from the client to the Exchange account.

See also[edit]


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  9. ^ HTML Mail with Microsoft Outlook
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  35. ^ Outlook Data Model Reference (page on the MailItem object class members), MSDN development documentation, [1], retrieved May 2011
  36. ^ a b Preface of the TNEF specification, Outlook 2010 edition, [2], retrieved May 2011
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  39. ^ "Microsoft Internet Safety and Security Center". Microsoft.
  40. ^ Miller, Ron. "Salesforce-Microsoft love grows with SalesforceIQ-Outlook integration | TechCrunch". Retrieved September 4, 2017.
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  49. ^ "IMAPSize".
  50. ^ "Export messages and folders from Thunderbird to Outlook/Outlook Express/Windows Mail".

External links[edit]