Last Updated: November 4, 2015 1247

A New Outlook on Email

Found In: Email

As the online world continues to heat up, email looms larger and larger. This mode of internet correspondence, which lets you send virtual letters instantly to friends and family (without even having to pay postage!), is becoming more and more important, and as it does, more and more competing services are springing up to vie for your attention and business.

That leaves you in a bit of a bind, though, doesn’t it? With so many different service providers and so many possible features, it can be confusing trying to tell which one is best. Today, we’ll be taking a look at one of the email world’s top options — Microsoft’s Outlook email service.

It is (or was) Hot!

Microsoft’s Outlook email client was originally called Hotmail. While it’s not 100% clear why this change was made, some speculate that it was because of “reputation problems” — in 2006 and 2007, Hotmail had some problems with its spam filters. Outlook does not suffer from these problems, and, in fact, has a reputation for excellent spam protection, so if that was the reason, they made the right call.

In any case, the basic user interface for Outlook is simple and easy to use. With the ability to sort email into different categories by dragging and dropping them into different folders, an uncluttered look, and a clean, easy way of composing new emails, Outlook is a solid, easy-to-use platform. It can also connect across multiple devices and sync up with other Microsoft products if you’re an MS user.

Collected Comparisons

As far as competitors go in the email marketplace, Outlook really only has two: Gmail and Yahoo Mail. But competition is important — while there is no doubt that Outlook is a great email service, everyone has different preferences. There are some important differences between these three that we should look at so that you can make sure Outlook is the right choice for you.

First, let’s take a look at the look-and-feel of the platforms: Gmail has a very customizable appearance, with different possible colors and themes for your page. However, it contains a great deal of informational “clutter” — things like Google Plus, chat bars, and the like take up some of your screen’s real estate in Gmail. By contrast, Yahoo and Outlook have cleaner appearances, with less information and more blank space which can let the eye rest. If you want something on the simpler end of things, then Outlook is a good choice.

All services offer the same level of organizational ability — that is, emails can be assigned to folders (though Gmail calls them “labels”) and searched through later at your convenience. As far as storage goes, Yahoo Mail and Outlook tie with 1 Terabyte (1,000 Gigabytes), beating out Google’s 30 GB. Again, Outlook is a good bet here. Security on all three is about equal, and the only substantial difference in how the services are used is that Gmail creates pop-up windows to let you write emails in. While this is useful if you want to be able to reference something in your inbox while writing an email, it’s another case where someone wanting simplicity should probably stick to Outlook.

Sign Up, Sign In

Getting started is easy! First, head over to On the righthand side of the screen, towards the bottom, you’ll see a few lines of text reading “Don’t have a Microsoft account? Sign up now.”

Click the part that says “sign up now.

Now you’ll need to fill out a bit of information. Nothing serious — just pick a username, a password, and enter your own name, birthday, etc. Easy stuff. Remember to take a look at the box at the very bottom of the screen, right above the button you click to finalize your information. This little box, which starts off checked/blue, gives Microsoft permission to send you emails. If you are OK with this, then leave it as it is, but if you don’t want that extra email in your inbox, make sure to uncheck it.

Congratulations! You’re done!

Even better, though, is the fact that you can actually switch over an email account from a different service, such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail. To do this, first complete the steps above, and then go to Find the spot along the top bar where it says “Switch to Outlook.” If you click this, it will bring up the options of switching from Gmail or Yahoo Mail — choose whichever you wish. When you click this, it will bring up a window that has, near the bottom, text that says “Switch Now” — scroll down until this text is near the top, and then click the “Run the import wizard” button on the right-hand side and follow the simple directions. This will move all the information from your old account over to your new one.

Getting Started

Outlook is an extremely intuitive service, so there’s not too much to be explained about how to use it. When you first start, you will find yourself in your inbox with a message from the Team. Click once on this to read the full message. Once you’ve read it, move your cursor to the top right corner of the email where there is an “Actions” drop down. From here you can reply, forward, delete, or take a number of other actions. Or, easier still, look up at the top bar, where you will see similar actions. For now, click “Archive,” and the email will be whisked away to your archives — you’ll still be able to access it, but you’ll never need to see it again if you don’t want to.

Now that you’re back at the inbox, feel free to press some buttons and explore a bit. Try pushing the “New” button at the top of the screen to begin writing a new email, for instance, or press the “New Folder” button at the bottom of the text on the left-hand bar to make a category into which you can organize future emails. Whatever tickles your fancy — it is your inbox, after all.

Tips and Tricks

Now that you’ve got the basics down, here are some ways to get even more out of Outlook. Just pick one you like and use it until you’ve gotten it down; then you can come back for more.

  • Your Keyboard, Cut Short – keyboard shortcuts allow you to use certain keystrokes instead of having to move your mouse around the screen and click things. Once you have these down, you’ll be able to move through your email at a much faster pace. Check them out at
  • Folder? I Hardly Know ‘er! – make use of the folders feature by making folders for your most important email categories. For instance, maybe you want to be able to sort your emails into work vs. personal. And maybe you want to separate work email from your boss from other work emails, or personal email from your kids from other personal emails. With folders, you can make it happen!
  • Instant Action – when you move your cursor over an email, you’ll notice that three small icons appear to the left of the subject line. These are the “instant action” icons, and allow you to quickly mark the email as unread, delete it, or mark it as priority (hovering over the icon will let you know which one it is). This can cut a lot of time and a lot of clicks off your daily email routine.

So there you have it — Outlook in a nutshell. Outlook is a robust and versatile mail client and provides a clean, simple solution for all your internet correspondence needs. While you may, at some point, want to give some other mail clients a try, as well, Outlook is a solid place to start. Once you’ve settled in, you may find you don’t need to move on after all.

  • Shirley McKenzie

    What do you mean?

  • Ray wilson

    My email has been stopped. Why ?