What is Microsoft Outlook?

Microsoft Outlook is a software system designed to manage personal and professional information. This Microsoft product is included in the Microsoft 365 suite. Although most Outlook users rely on this application for email purposes, it also comes with other features, such as journal logging, note-taking, contact and task management, web browsing, and calendaring.

When Microsoft Office was first released in 1990, it included Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. However, there was no application that was capable of handling email. It wasn’t until Office 97 was released to the public that Outlook was added to this package. In the time since, Microsoft has released several updated versions, each with new features and tools to help streamline daily personal and business tasks. This personal information manager (PIM) has been included in many versions of the Microsoft Office application packages, such as Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016, and currently Microsoft 365 (home version).

Now, Outlook can be used on nearly all mobile platforms, such as Android and iOS. By 2019, Outlook had over 100 million users on Android and iOS devices alone. Now, Windows phone devices can also be synchronized to the majority of Outlook data with Outlook Mobile. 

How Much Does it Cost to Use Outlook?

Outlook can be accessed for free online. Outlook can also be purchased as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription, in which it is bundled with other Microsoft tools like OneDrive, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Different price plans are available depending on which Microsoft 365 subscription is purchased.

Benefits of Using Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is the most-used email application around the world. Those who use Outlook for personal or professional correspondences cite many benefits to working with this application:

  • Outlook has a variety of keyboard commands designed to expedite the process of forwarding or sending messages, in addition to navigating one’s folders and inbox. 
  • Those who work with Outlook can use some of this app’s features, even when offline.
  • Instead of having to sift through hundreds or thousands of emails in one’s inbox, Outlook users can access their messages in an organized fashion. With the help of Outlook’s Focused Inbox, the most important emails are easy to spot for quick access. The folder system used in Outlook provides a convenient method for accessing any message or attachment in a centralized location. In addition, Outlook helps to organize the process of attaching files and sending messages as well.
  • This app can integrate with other services, such as Uber, Giphy, Facebook, PayPal, Yelp, Skype, Boomerang, and Evernote.
  • Advanced font options, professional formatting, and a variety of color themes come standard with Outlook.
  • The calendar in Outlook offers several ways to view daily, weekly, and monthly schedules, which helps users keep track of important appointments and meetings. In addition, meeting requests can be sent to contacts in the calendar feature.
  • This application provides an array of security features, such as data encryption in the user’s mailbox after an email is sent. In addition, the premium version of Outlook automatically deactivates unsafe links that carry viruses, malware, or phishing scams, and can recover important files from OneDrive.
  • Outlook users can easily collaborate with other Microsoft apps, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. 
  • Skype can run directly through Outlook so that users can chat with colleagues in real-time.
  • There are several helpful add-ons for Outlook that can provide users with additional features. The RSS feed reader sends emails containing timely news stories right into the Outlook user’s email so that they can stay abreast of current events. In addition, the Social Connector add-on helps users stay in the loop with social media posts and messages, as well as status updates and pictures.
  • When users log in with their Microsoft account, Microsoft Outlook can sync personal data with their computer, phone, or tablet.
  • Emails can be flagged for follow-up when working with Outlook. Those who wish to delay sending an email can do so as well.
  • Personal data can also be integrated with Outlook, including virtual sticky notes, calendars, address books, and to-do lists.
  • Information entered into Outlook’s calendar can be synced to other devices. In addition, calendars can be shared with others in Outlook.

As the above list indicates, Microsoft Outlook is a helpful tool for organization and communication that provides Microsoft users with an array of features to help streamline their daily personal and business correspondences and tasks.

Which Professions Use Outlook?

Those who are proficient with Outlook possess a skill set that transcends professions and industries. They can leverage this application to sort through emails using filters and folders, locate colleagues with the help of the address book, and even schedule automatic email responses when traveling or away from the office. In addition, those who have a command of the Calendar feature in Outlook can organize important meetings, events, occasions, and deadlines, all in one place. These job skills are a must-have no matter the field of work.

Because of its wide range of applications, Microsoft Outlook is used by those in accounting, data entry, voice processing, computer operations, and academia. In addition, Administrative Assistants, Office Managers, and Retail Managers often rely on this application to help organize correspondence and keep track of important meetings and events.

In addition to individual use, many corporations around the globe use Outlook for professional scheduling and correspondence. Organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Cigna, Bank of America, and Staples all use Outlook.

Hands-On Microsoft Outlook & Office Classes

If you want to learn more about how to work with Microsoft Outlook for your email, scheduling, and contact management needs, then you’ve come to the right place. Noble Desktop’s live online and in-person Outlook courses are available for those who are new to Outlook, as well as professionals seeking to learn this application’s more advanced features. These small group classes cover topics such as how to establish rules and search folders to automate email, as well as configuring email accounts, controlling spam filters, and performing advanced calendar functions. In addition, more than 30 in-person and live online Outlook courses are available from Noble Desktop and its affiliate schools. Courses cost between $119 and $580.

For those interested in learning the ins and outs of Microsoft Office, a great way to do so is to enroll in one of Noble Desktop’s Microsoft Office courses. These small group classes are offered in-person in Manhattan, as well as in the live online format. You can also browse in-person Microsoft Office classes in a city near you.