Microsoft is making the Outlook for Mac app free to use, the company announced this week. Previously available with a Microsoft 365 account or as part of the Office for Mac app suite, the Outlook app is downloadable from the Mac App Store and works with Outlook.com, Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo, and plain old IMAP and POP email accounts.
Microsoft already offers a free version of the Outlook client for iOS and Android, and it’s currently testing a preview of a redesigned Outlook app that will replace the built-in Mail and Calendar apps that ship with Windows 11.
The Mac version of the app doesn’t use that new design—it’s the same Outlook for Mac app that Microsoft rolled out back in late 2020—but the company’s blog post says the company is working on “rebuilding Outlook for Mac from the ground up.” This will presumably be the same client that Microsoft is testing in Windows, part of the company’s “One Outlook” project (also called Project Monarch) that aims to offer a single unified mail client that looks and works the same way across all supported platforms.
Part of that One Outlook project means making all email accounts look and act the same way in Outlook, and to make that happen, the Outlook app goes a bit further than most mail clients when syncing with third-party email providers. When you use non-Microsoft IMAP email accounts like Gmail in the Outlook for Mac app, Microsoft will continuously sync emails, calendar appointments, and contacts to its own servers, effectively maintaining a second copy of all the data that’s already being stored by your email provider.
If nothing else, the new Outlook for Mac is a welcome alternative to Apple’s built-in Mail and Calendar apps, which work basically fine most of the time but improve very little between macOS releases. Outlook for Mac will run on macOS 11.0 (Big Sur) or later, and like most of Microsoft’s apps these days, it’s a Universal app binary that runs natively on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs. It also supports Handoff features when using the iOS version of Outlook on a phone that’s signed in to the same iCloud account as your Mac.