Tips for Outlook for Mac 2016

Outlook has recently received a number of updates and new features. Here's our guide to the most important features in the latest version of Outlook 2016.

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  • step 1 Outlook crashes in Office 2016
  • step 2 The Ribbon in Office 2016
  • step 3 Message previews in Outlook
  • step 4 Conversation view
  • step 5 Push mail in Outlook
  • step 6 Calendar in Outlook 2016
  • step 7 Outlook for business
  • step 8 Adding events in Outlook 2016
  • step 9b Exchange Servers: Clutter
  • step 10 Signatures in Outlook 2016
  • More stories
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Outlook crashes in Office 2016

Unfortunately, our first tip for many users of Outlook 2016 is a warning that Office 2016 in general was quite royally screwed by the arrival of El Capitan (OS X v10.11), although the first update to El Capitan - 10.11.1 - appears to have fixed some of the issues.

There were widespread reports of crashes when running Office 2016 with El Capitan, with Outlook in particular being badly affected. It might simply be safer to hold off updating to El Capitan, or sticking with Office 2011 if you have already updated your Mac to El Capitan. 

It is probably wise to use Microsoft’s AutoUpdate program to check for updates on a regular basis.

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Next Prev step 1

Unfortunately, our first tip for many users of Outlook 2016 is a warning that Office 2016 in general was quite royally screwed by the arrival of El Capitan (OS X v10.11), although the first update to El Capitan - 10.11.1 - appears to have fixed some of the issues.

There were widespread reports of crashes when running Office 2016 with El Capitan, with Outlook in particular being badly affected. It might simply be safer to hold off updating to El Capitan, or sticking with Office 2011 if you have already updated your Mac to El Capitan. 

It is probably wise to use Microsoft’s AutoUpdate program to check for updates on a regular basis.

 

Step 2 of 10: The Ribbon in Office 2016

The Ribbon toolbar in Outlook 2016 may have turned blue, but it hasn’t changed quite as dramatically as it has in some of the other Office 2016 apps.

If you don’t like the new blue colour scheme then you can switch back to ‘classic’ grey using the Theme option in Outlook’s General preferences panel. There are just two options here – basic grey, or the new ‘colourful’ Ribbon that was introduced with Office 2016.

Just remember that selecting a theme in one app will apply that theme to all your other Office 2016 apps as well – including Word, PowerPoint and Excel – so you can’t use different themes in each app.

 

Step 3 of 10: Message previews in Outlook

There’s not much change to the Ribbon, but there have still been a few useful tweaks to Outlook’s interface in this version.

Message Previews now show the subject of the email along with the first line of the message itself, which makes it easier to quickly skim through the contents of your inbox.

The tabs that allow you to switch between Mail, Calendar, People and other views within Outlook have been moved too. They now run along the bottom of the Outlook window, freeing up some extra space in the Folder pane so that you can pile up even more folders for organizing your emails.

 

Step 4 of 10: Conversation view

The previous version of Outlook had a Conversations view that allowed you to follow a discussion that took place across several emails and replies. However, Outlook 2011 could sometimes get confused if there were unrelated emails that had a similar subject line – such as ‘Apple News’.

I’ve often seen emails mistakenly included as part of a conversation in Outlook 2011, which can cause problems if you end up sending a reply to the wrong person. Outlook 2016 has improved its Conversation view and now does a better job of keeping each conversation thread separate.

 

Step 5 of 10: Push mail in Outlook

Previous versions of Outlook allowed you to create ‘schedules’ that performed tasks at specific intervals – and it also included a default schedule that checked for new emails every 10 minutes.

Outlook 2016 now supports ‘push mail’, which means that new emails are automatically ‘pushed’ from your email server straight into your Inbox in Outlook.

Some people do like to be constantly updated when new emails arrive, but others can find it distracting if they’re trying to focus on something else. Fortunately, it’s still possible to modify these settings using the Tools command to view and edit the details of your email account.

 

Step 6 of 10: Calendar in Outlook 2016

Let’s not forget that Outlook also includes features for organizing your calendar and contacts.

The Calendar gets some new features in Outlook 2016, including the ability to view multiple calendars side-by-side. That will be handy if you have separate calendars for business and personal events, as you can look at them side-by-side to see if there are any dates or events that clash.

If you’re super-organised you can view a maximum of three calendars at a time, and Outlook can even look up the weather for the next couple of days and display it on the calendar for you.

 

Step 7 of 10: Outlook for business

Businesses that use Microsoft Exchange systems for their internal email and calendar systems get a number of additional features that can help you to organize your calendars.

You can use the new side-by-side calendar view to display a colleague’s calendar alongside your own calendar in order to see the best times for meetings.

Business users can also create an ‘online archive’, which acts as a kind of overflow inbox, allowing you to free up some space in your main Inbox by creating an archive of old emails on your mail server.

 

Step 8 of 10: Adding events in Outlook 2016

Like many email programs, Outlook can recognize emails that contain an invitation to a meeting or event, and will ask if you want to accept or decline the invitation. And, if you accept, Outlook can automatically add the event to your calendar for you.

However, Outlook 2016 adds a new option here, called Propose New Time. If you do want to attend a meeting but you decide that the suggested time doesn’t suit you, then you can send another email in reply that says ‘how about this time instead?’.

Unfortunately, the Outlook help files don’t say what will happen if 10 different people suggest 10 different times.

 

Step 9 of 10: Exchange Servers: Clutter

Another option available to business users who have Exchange Servers is called Clutter. This is similar to the ‘focused’ inbox feature found in the iOS version of Outlook, as it monitors all your emails over a period of time and tries to learn which emails are most important to you.

It doesn’t replace your existing spam filter, which will still continue to chuck rubbish emails straight into your Junk folder. However, Clutter will attempt to identify low-priority emails that you may not want to read immediately, and will move them into a separate folder so that your main Inbox just holds the important emails that you want to read straight away.

 

Step 10 of 10: Signatures in Outlook 2016

The 2011 version of Outlook allowed you to create signatures that you could automatically add to the end of your email messages. You could also create multiple signatures and let Outlook randomly choose a different signature for each message.

Outlook 2016 adds a new option here, as you can now create one signature for new messages, and a different signature for your replies, or for messages that you forward onto someone else.

You can also format your signatures in a variety of ways, simply by right-clicking on the text to display the font format menu.

Read next:

Top tips for Excel 2016

Top tips for PowerPoint 2016

Top tips for Word for Mac 2016

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