This article is part of a larger series on Business Email.
Microsoft Outlook business email enables companies of all sizes to manage emails, tasks, calendars, and contacts—all in one place. There are also third-party and native integrations to extend functionality, including seamless use with Microsoft 365 productivity suite and collaboration apps. Find out why it’s the top Gmail competitor for teams prioritizing security, advanced features, and automations, and whether it’s right for your business.
Reasons to Choose Microsoft Outlook for Business Email
A top reason to choose Microsoft 365 and Outlook over competitors for business emailing is security. Microsoft prioritizes users’ security and privacy. It promises to respect its users’ privacy by not scanning emails or attachments for advertising purposes. Furthermore, Outlook uses Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC), an email authentication protocol that allows owners to protect their domain from unauthorized access.
Other reasons to use Microsoft Outlook instead of another email service include:
In addition to tight security protocols, Outlook integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft Office products, like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Files on your device can be set to automatically sync to cloud storage on OneDrive, giving you access from anywhere and enabling you to collaborate on projects with your team.
Microsoft Outlook software also integrates with hundreds of popular business tools, making it easy to streamline workflows for increased productivity. For instance, you can send an Excel spreadsheet or Word document directly from the productivity apps. You can also integrate third-party apps and sync your contacts to various platforms, such as LinkedIn, to help you expand your network online.
Lastly, Outlook integrates easily with apps like Slack, Zoom, Skype, and other team collaboration and meeting software. It also connects with email tools for project management like Asana, email signatures via WiseStamp, Grammarly for advanced editing tools, email tracking software, and more. Plus, there are almost 50 keyboard shortcuts for users with visual impairment, blindness, and disabilities.
Email Scheduling & Automation
Sales agents can schedule Outlook business emails to be sent at specific times. This can be helpful when sending a set of prospecting emails to coincide with a special offer or newly published piece of content, for example. Marketers can use this feature to send a press release at specified times to the journalists and media outlets they want to approach individually.
Another important feature is having the ability to set up multiple custom professional email signatures. Sales agents can create email signatures with different calls to action based on contact type (e.g., networking partner vs prospect or customer) so that it’s easy to get the recipient to take the next step.
Sales agents and busy business owners will also appreciate being able to share their Outlook calendars. This makes it easy for an administrative assistant to set up meeting and presentation times that will be convenient for all parties involved. Calendars can even be used to manage meeting rooms, for example, by giving a conference room its own unique email address and calendar for scheduling, and sharing the calendar to the team.
Who Microsoft Outlook Is Not a Good Fit For
Outlook isn’t quite as beginner-friendly as top rival Gmail, partly due to the sheer number of features and tools available. For users who want the simplest and easiest email experience, Gmail is a better choice. However, Gmail lacks a lot of business features that come standard with Microsoft Outlook, unless manually installed through Gmail extensions.
You can learn more about other alternatives in our article on the best email service providers.
Outlook Business Email Costs
To use Microsoft Outlook business email software, you need to subscribe to a Microsoft 365 plan (formerly Office 365), which also gives you access to essentials like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. There are two main categories for Microsoft 365: home and business.
Subscribing to the home plan ($99.99 per year or $9.99 paid monthly) may be sufficient for solopreneurs. However, business users planning to deploy Outlook for business email organization-wide, work collaboratively with other team members, or who want to use Microsoft Teams’ video conferencing and meeting tools should opt for a business account.
Microsoft 365 Pricing & Plan Features
Microsoft 365 business plans all include access to web and mobile versions of Outlook. However, you need to subscribe to the Standard Plan to gain desktop versions of Office 365 apps. Plans also include various features, such as Microsoft Publisher, Teams, Exchange, and SharePoint.
Microsoft 365 Business Basic
Microsoft 365 Business Standard
Microsoft 365 Business Premium
Microsoft 365 Apps for Business
Price per Month
Web and mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Outlook, Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive
Everything in Business Basic plus desktop versions of each and desktop only versions of Access and Publisher
Everything in Business Standard plus Intune and Azure Information Protection
Desktop, web, and mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneDrive, and desktop only Access and Publisher
Try for 1 Month Free
Business Class Email
1TB of Cloud Storage
Chat, Call, Meet With up to 300 Attendees
Phone & Web Support
Desktop Versions of Office Apps
Webinars With Attendee Registration & Reporting
Manage Customer Appointments
How Outlook Plans Compare to Gmail
Those wanting a full comparison should check out our more comprehensive Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365 review. However, in terms of business email solutions, here’s how Gmail and Outlook plans compare in the U.S.
Microsoft 365’s Business Basic plan is the same price as Google Workspace’s basic plan at $6 per user, per month, and both plans include web and mobile versions of productivity and collaboration tools. Both providers include business must-have apps for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as business email software and collaboration (e.g., Microsoft Teams for video and chat vs the Google Meet and Chat apps).
One advantage of Microsoft 365 is that the Standard, Premium, and Apps plans all include desktop versions of Microsoft Office software. Google Workspace doesn’t include desktop software, but you can work offline and sync changes when your connection is restored. Other Microsoft 365 pluses include higher video conferencing limits (Basic and Standard plans) and enterprise-level security with the Premium plan.
Where Google Workspace (and thus, Gmail) may be better for your business is in terms of collaboration. It’s far easier for multiple people to work on Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, even simultaneously, than it is with Microsoft 365. Google Workspace and Gmail also have an advantage in offering more cloud storage with the Standard and Plus plan. Google Workspace Business Plus subscribers ($18 per month) get the highest video conferencing limits at 500 participants.
How to Start Using Microsoft Outlook for Business Email
Microsoft Outlook is extremely easy business email software to use, particularly if you have prior experience with other Microsoft Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. All you need to do to send and receive emails is set up Outlook by adding your account credentials.
1. Open Outlook & Add Your Email Credentials
If you’re using a Windows computer, Microsoft Outlook may already be installed among your apps. Open the app through the Start menu, or open the web-based or mobile version of Outlook. If the app isn’t on your device, add it through the Microsoft App Store.
To add your account credentials, get your IMAP (or POP/POP3) and SMTP settings from the email account you set up with your web hosting provider. If you don’t have an email account on your domain, you may be able to set one up free through your web hosting provider.
Alternatively, you can get a domain and multiple email addresses on your domain by subscribing to a hosting plan through Bluehost, or get an individual address with an email hosting service like IONOS, which costs $12 per year and includes a free domain.
How to input your IMAP and SMTP credentials:
- Open the Outlook app on your computer, click on File, then + Add Account.
- In the next box, check the “Let me set up my account manually” box.
- Choose either POP or IMAP. If you are using a web hosting service or email hosting provider, choose IMAP.
- In most cases, Microsoft 365 will add the IMAP information automatically, but you will need to type in the email address and password for the account. You may also need to input the IMAP and SMTP settings provided by your web host or email hosting provider.
If successful, you will receive a test message from Microsoft Outlook. You can also test to ensure emails are sending properly by sending a test message to yourself or a colleague. Note that the steps for setting up your Outlook business email could be slightly different depending on whether you use a PC or Apple computer, as well as which version of Windows your device is running.
For more support or specific instructions about how to add your email account on PC or Apple or mobile devices, check out detailed instructions for how to add your account to Outlook. Alternatively, your email host or web hosting provider will likely also have detailed instructions for setting up your business email on Outlook, Gmail, and mobile apps.
2. Send Business Emails Through Microsoft Outlook
To send an email, click on New Email in the top bar’s Home menu, fill in the “To” box with the recipient’s email address, and type out your message. Unless your device is offline, Outlook will automatically check for new messages and sync your folders (when using Outlook on multiple devices, such as mobile and PC).
3. Organize Your Emails & Outlook Interface
To organize your emails, delete unnecessary messages, flag important emails, and organize emails in specific folders. You can also customize the view of your inbox, such as adding a reading pane to quickly see the content of an email or a To-Do Bar showing your upcoming meetings and tasks.
You can manage multiple email addresses in Outlook, including importing items from other email management software, such as Gmail. Simply add an account and input the credentials of the email addresses you want. This way, you can see and manage all your emails from one place to save time.
To delete emails, click on the Trash icon located on the upper left side of the menu. To flag messages for follow-up, click on View, then click on Flag Status for the email you want to flag.
You can also add a “From” element, which will flag every email from a specific sender, which can be very helpful for small customer service teams that may need to escalate a customer’s issue. Alternatively, you can view messages in “conversations” and see all emails exchanged in a given thread.
When using Microsoft Office for business email, it’s easy to add folders to organize emails you want to keep, such as for projects or from important senders. Simply right-click on Inbox, and then click on “New Folder.”
Type in the name for the new folder, and when there’s an email you want to move to that folder, simply right-click the email, select Move, then choose the folder you want to move the email to. You can also simply drag-and-drop emails from your main inbox into folders.
Who Uses Microsoft 365 & Outlook for Business Email
Worldwide, Microsoft 365 software leads Google Workplace. However, Google Workplace has a commanding lead in the U.S. (Statista.com). Used by more than 96,000 businesses, Microsoft Outlook is an email software solution available in 106 languages for U.S. and international businesses alike.
Here are 10 main business types Microsoft Outlook is being used by:
- Business services
- Real estate
If your industry or category isn’t listed above, you can search through the list of companies that are using Microsoft Outlook for business. Another interesting statistic is to compare how many businesses use Microsoft Outlook by company size. It clearly demonstrates that Outlook business email is appropriate for companies of all sizes and types.
Microsoft Outlook Users by Company Size
- Less than 10 employees: 75,098
- 10-49 employees: 188,521
- 50-199 employees: 79,381
- 200-499 employees: 51,262
- 500-999 employees: 18,827
- 1,000-plus employees: 33,977
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should I use Gmail or Outlook for business emails?
The choice between Gmail vs Outlook depends on your needs and preferences. For instance, Gmail is great for simplicity and the better choice for Google Workspace users. Outlook has more native business email management features, allowing you to schedule, flag, delete, segregate, and specify emails. And obviously, Microsoft Outlook is better for businesses using Microsoft 365 Office products like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Still not convinced one way or another? Get more options in our list of the best business email providers.
Can I use my Gmail account in Outlook?
Yes. You can link your Gmail account to Outlook by enabling your IMAP protocol for your Gmail account and forward the POP/IMAP. Click the gear icon on the top right, choose Settings, click Forwarding and POP/IMAP, Enable IMAP, and then Save Changes.
Is there an online version of Outlook?
The Microsoft Outlook web browser version can be accessed through outlook.office.com. Outlook Online works for smaller volumes of email, calendar, and contacts, while the desktop version is better for setting up multiple appointments, creating detailed tasks, modifying your rules, and managing your emails.
Microsoft Outlook includes extensive business email features that Gmail users need to add premium extensions in order to replicate. While Gmail is used by more U.S. businesses, it’s not the best choice for those who want the highest level of security or the advanced features and number of business email, scheduling, and task management tools that come with Outlook.
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