What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)

Email is a huge part of most people’s day. According to one source, the average business person sends and receives over 100 messages a day. We rely on email so much, that many of check it constantly— even when we’re in the bathroom or in bed.

What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)

With so much time spent on email, obviously the email package we choose is important. There are a lot of email systems out there and one of the most popular is Microsoft Outlook.

Are you thinking about using MS Outlook or does your company already use Outlook? If so, you need to know what Microsoft Outlook is used for. That’s where this tutorial can help.

You may be aware that Microsoft Outlook is an email package that’s part of the Microsoft Office productivity suite. What you may not know is that it can do much more than just send and receive email messages.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn all about Outlook. We’ll define Outlook for you. You’ll discover what Outlook is used for. Plus, we’ll discuss the difference between Microsoft Outlook and Outlook.com.

Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery (Free eBook Download)

Before going further in learning how to use Microsoft Outlook, be sure to grab our Free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It’s packed with inbox organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more efficiently.

What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)

Now let’s learn what Outlook is and how it’s used.

Is Outlook Email?

You may wonder what Microsoft Outlook is. You probably already know that it’s email software included with a paid Microsoft Office subscription. And you’d be right. But Outlook has more capabilities than just email.

Outlook can help you organize your schedule with a calendar and task lists, store contact information, send reminders, and more. It’s no wonder that Outlook is often referred to as a personal information manager (PIM).

If you’re considering using Outlook for your organizational and email needs, it’s important to understand that there may be some differences in the tool depending on which version you’ve got. Outlook has been around since the late 1990s, and there’ve been a lot of changes over the years. With older versions, there may be some differences in the user interface and some of the newer features may be missing. For the purposes of this series of tutorials, we’ll be talking about MS Outlook 2016.

If you don’t have Microsoft Office but want to use Outlook, don’t worry. You can use Microsoft’s free web-based email, Outlook.com. The web-based version has many of the same features as the desktop version of Outlook, although there are some differences. (If you had a Hotmail or Windows Live account, you may have
it already since those accounts were converted to Outlook.com)

What Is Outlook.com?

Do you know the difference between Outlook.com and Microsoft Outlook?

Many people refer to Outlook email when they’re actually talking about the free web-based Outlook.com email software. Not only are the names of the two software packages similar, they also share some functionality. But there are some major differences.

Here’s what you need to know about the differences between MS Outlook and Outlook.com:

  1. Cost. MS
    Outlook is part of your paid Microsoft Office subscription, which also includes
    the latest Office software. Outlook.com, is a free web-based email package with
    some of the features of Outlook.
  2. Ads. MS
    Outlook has no ads. The Outlook.com interface, on the other hand, does have visible
    ads (although they’re kept to a minimum).
  3. Your own server. Outlook
    can be configured to run on your own mail server, making it ideal for companies
    and organizations. Outlook.com runs on the web.
  4. Inbox size. Outlook.com users have up to 15 GB storage
    space. MS Office 365 users get 50 GB of storage to start. (Outlook users
    operating with a Microsoft Enterprise account may have even more space.)
  5. Attachment size. The
    combined file size limit for Outlook.com is 20 MB. For business Outlook
    accounts, the combined file limit also starts at 20 MB. You can learn how to handle
    large email attachments in Outlook
    with this tutorial.
  6. Technical support. Outlook.com
    doesn’t include phone support, although you can contact support via contact
    form. You may also be able to find answers to your questions here.
    With recent versions of MS Office (which includes Outlook), however, you can
    reach a support professional by phone.

Still, if you’re looking for a basic free email package to meet your needs Outlook.com may fit the bill. For a comparison between Outlook.com and Gmail (another free email package) study this tutorial:

  • What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)
    Gmail vs Outlook: What’s the Best (Free) Email Service?
    Laura Spencer


Note: Unless otherwise noted, this tutorial refers to Microsoft Outlook (available
with Microsoft Office) and not the web-based Outlook.com. Although, some features do work for both email platforms.

Outlook Advantages

If you’re using Microsoft Outlook for your email or information management needs, congratulations. It’s a solid choice—and you’re not alone. According to Microsoft by the numbers there are over a billion Microsoft Office users worldwide. That means there are a lot of Outlook users.

There are some definite benefits to using Microsoft Outlook compared to other email providers. Here are just a few:

  • Popular in many large organizations. Research from iDatalabs indicates that over 40,000
    companies use Microsoft Outlook
    worldwide. What this means is that if you
    understand how to use Outlook, you’ve already got a useful skill for many
  • Works well with MS Exchange. Microsoft
    exchange is an enterprise-level server used by schools, businesses, and other
    large organizations.
  • Compatible with popular software. Naturally,
    Outlook works seamlessly with Microsoft Office. But it also works well with
    many other add-ins available through the Microsoft
    office store
  • Includes organizational tools. Even
    without add-ins, Outlook includes its own organizational tools such as an
    address book and calendar.
  • Good security. Outlook
    has many security features. For example, it offers two-factor authentication,
    message encryption, and the ability to see recent account activity.
  • Technical support. Microsoft
    offers technical telephone support (additional cost for some plans), which is
    available 24/7. If you’ve got a problem, this is a huge advantage.

Is Microsoft Outlook Used For?

We’ve already touched on some of the uses of Microsoft outlook, but here’s a more complete list:

  • Email. This
    is probably the most basic use of Outlook. Use it to send and receive email
  • Calendar. Use
    the built-in Outlook calendar to schedule and track your appointments and
    meetings. You can even schedule reminders for yourself. Calendars can also be
  • Address book. Never
    lose a contact’s information again. Outlook not only lets you store email
    information for your contacts, but also other information such as phone numbers
    and mailing addresses.
  • To do list. You
    can use MS Outlook to set up a task list for yourself.
  • Track sent messages. You
    can request a receipt for a message you send that tells you whether the message
    has been received or read. (This varies depending on the recipient’s email system.)
  • Send attachments. If
    you’ve got images or documents you need to send, you can attach them to an email
  • Schedule resources. If
    you’re using Outlook at work, control who uses conference rooms or shared equipment
    by adding them to meetings.
  • Sort messages using rules. The
    MS Outlook Rules tool is a handy way to automatically perform a number of
    tasks, but it’s at its best when used to filter and file messages
  • Add graphic elements. Using
    MS Office’s Smart Art capability, you can add images to the body of your emails
    and customize them from within the email.
  • Share your desktop in an email. Having
    a problem with an App? This little-known feature lets you take a screenshot
    from within email and insert it in your message.
  • Have live conversations. Office
    communicator lets you instant message your contacts if they’re available.

And of course, there are many other ways to use Outlook as well. You can probably think of a few uses that are specific to your situation.

Started With MS Outlook

If you’re using Outlook at your school or workplace, it may already be set up for you. Or you may be asked to work with your organization’s IT specialist to set up Outlook email.

If you’re a small business, solo professional, or if you’re setting up Outlook for home use—it’s up to you to set up your email system. These instructions from Microsoft can help you get your email account set up.

Once your Outlook email is set up, this in-depth tutorial shows you how to write your first email:

  • What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)
    Microsoft Outlook
    How to Compose & Send New Emails With Microsoft Outlook
    Laura Spencer


You can find additional Outlook tutorials in our learning guide series, How to Use Microsoft Outlook (Essential Tutorial Guide). There are two ways to use the learning guide:

  1. Go through each tutorial for a more complete
    mastery of using MS Outlook.
  2. Pick
    and choose only the Outlook tutorials you need or that interest you.

to Make Your Outlook Messages More Professional

Once you’ve started using Microsoft Outlook as your email package, you’ll want to make sure that your email messages are as professional as possible so that you make a good impression. Here’s a list of email tutorials that will teach you how to write professional emails on a variety of subjects:

  • What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)
    How to Master Proper Business Email Format – and Avoid Professional Disaster
    Laura Spencer


  • What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)
    How to Start and End a Professional Business Email
    Laura Spencer


  • What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)
    9 Professional Email Signature Tips—With Best Template Examples
    Laura Spencer


  • What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)
    How to Write a Friendly Reminder Email (Using Best Practices)
    Laura Spencer


  • What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)
    How to Write a More Effective Email (15+ Best Tips & Tricks)
    Laura Spencer


More Helpful Email Tips and Strategies

Don’t forget to sign up to the Tuts+ Business newsletter and grab our free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It’s packed with inbox organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more efficiently.

What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software Tool)


As you’ve discovered, MS Outlook is a powerful Pro email software tool. Now that we’ve explained what Outlook is and what Outlook is used for, you’ve got the information you need to decide whether it’s for you.

Whether you decide to use Microsoft Outlook on your own or you’re working for a company that uses Outlook, there are some definite benefits to using Microsoft Outlook compared to other email providers.

Why not get started today?