Breaking with tradition, Microsoft recently issued a new version of Outlook for the Mac. Normally, the company waits until all of its Office components are finished and then releases them as part of an application suite.
Also new is that Outlook is currently available only to Office 365 subscribers. If you have such a subscription you can download Outlook from your Office 365 portal page. If not, you'll have to wait until the new version of Office is available in the second half of 2015 when Outlook and the rest of the Office apps will be available in a perpetual license form (as well as offered to Office 365 subscribers).
To use the new version your Mac must be running Mac OS X 10.9.4 or later (including Mac OS X Yosemite). You can continue to use Outlook 2011 right alongside Outlook 2015 if you like. The two share only preference files.
I'm an Outlook user and have been longing for a new version of the app for ages. Now that I have it, here's what I've found.
On the surface
There aren't a load of new features in this version of Outlook. What there are include the following:
New theme. If you're looking for a radical redesign in this version of Outlook you'll be disappointed. In line with Apple's Yosemite design, the new Outlook's interface is flatter, uses gray more extensively than solid black, features slimmer fonts, and has removed the color from folder and mailbox icons in the sidebar. It also discards the yellow theme from Outlook 2011 in favor of the blue and white tones Microsoft now favors for its Outlook products. The ribbon bar remains though a few items in it have been shifted around.
Notification Center support. New message alerts now appear as OS X notifications and can be found gathered in Notification Center. To open a message just click on it and it will appear within a separate Outlook window.
Clearer conversations. Conversations have been tweaked so that a conversation is determined by not only its subject but now also by message ID header. This could mean that you'll find fewer false-positive messages within conversations that bear the same subject heading.
Category syncing. In the past, Outlook supported just one set of categories for all your accounts. Now you create and edit one set of category colors and names for your Exchange and Office 365 accounts and another set for your other email accounts. This can be helpful for companies that want consistent categories among all their employees.
Per-account signatures. As with Apple's Mail, signatures can now be associated with particular accounts. For example, you can assign one signature to a personal email account and a different one to the account you use at work. When you select a different account to send from, the signature appended to your message will change accordingly.
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