Mail has some gaps when it comes to Microsoft Exchange compatibility, and while it’ll receive mail from Exchange servers, it can’t use the shared calendars, tasks and invitations widely used in PC-based workplaces. That’s where Outlook 2011 comes in. Bundled with all versions of Office 2011 except the Home & Student edition, it provides similar features to those of the PC version, Outlook 2010, and is fully compatible with Exchange 2010 as well as Exchange Web Services. Switching from Mail to Outlook 2011 isn’t hard, and users switching from Windows to Macintosh will be able to import their existing Outlook for Windows files (.pst files), and use an interface rather similar to that of Outlook 2010 for Windows.

1. Start importing from Mail Quit Mail, launch Outlook and select Import from the File menu. Dialog boxes lead the user through each step. It’s self-explanatory, but Mail doesn’t appear on the first dialog box, so choose Information from another application from the first dialog box and then Apple Mail on the second.

2. Set import options Step forward using the arrow buttons. On the next dialog box, check the boxes alongside the items that need to be imported. Outlook can import Rules and Signatures, as well as email accounts and messages. Click the arrow at the bottom right to begin the import process.

3. Sit back and wait The import process takes a while, easily 15-30 minutes if you have a few thousand messages scattered across several email accounts. Be sure not to launch Mail or any other email client while all this is happening, otherwise there’s a chance messages accepted by Mail will be overlooked by Outlook.

4. Enter passwords At the end of the process, Outlook will request the name and password for each account. Without these, it won’t be able to get new messages from the servers. Check the keychain box to store passwords, or Outlook will request them every time it checks for new email.