First Look at New Outlook for Mac Redesign and Performance Improvements

Nov 7
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Microsoft has started rolling out new design and performance improvements to Outlook for Mac. The updates, currently still work in progress, are available to Insider Fast users. Here is our first look at the new updates.

On first launch, you are greeted with new onboarding screens which give a brief introduction to the new changes in the update. Improves design, search, calendar and customizable toolbar are the main highlights here. If you don't see these screens, go to Help > Try the New Outlook.

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Once you go through onboarding, you finally see the new cleaner Outlook design. It supports dark mode, and the transparency effects look nice with it. Overall, it just makes much better use of space, compared to the previous design.

Outlook for Mac

If you already have an email account setup, you will instantly notice that syncing is much faster than before. When you read emails and click through different emails, the app is more responsive. The fonts for subjects and sender name in the email list are also improved. Search is perhaps the second best new feature in this update, after performance improvements. It is already one of the best search experiences in any desktop email app on Mac. It's fast, fluid and the filters are very helpful.

I like the new calendar on the right side, called 'My Day'. The calendar can be switched between Agenda and Day views. As someone who has multiple meetings everyday, the new calendar sidebar helps me keep an eye on what my day looks like.

The new toolbar is completely customizable and you can chose to place any items you want on it. You can even enable or disable labels for them. I have kept the default icons for now, but will be experimenting with them more.

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Outlook for Mac Toolbar

If you open an email in a new window, you see the new toolbar and icons. However, the compose email window still has the ribbon toolbar. You can now reply to emails from their reading window, without opening a new compose window.

Outlook for Mac Email

Apart from email, the only other section that currently works in the new Outlook is Calendar. It has received the new design treatment too.

Outlook for Mac Calendar

The new event creation user interface has gotten a number of improvements. It now shows the availability of attendees, in the same window. A new Scheduling Assistant makes it easy to invite people and book meeting rooms.

Outlook for Mac Calendar Event

Other sections like People, Tasks and Notes are still work in progress, as well as many other features like unified inbox. If you try to access them, Outlook will show you a message saying 'We're working on it'. You can always switch back to the old Outlook design to access these sections, by clicking on the option in the top right corner of the app.

In my usage so far, I've run into issues where the app becomes slow to respond and I had to restart it to fix the issue. Since the app is currently in preview, such issues are expected. I would not recommend that you try this app with work email, to avoid any sort of data loss.

The early progress of new Outlook for Mac shows that Microsoft is doing a good with the new features. A lot of these features should have already been there but better late than never. We will keep an eye on the on-going updates to Outlook for Mac and share updates once new features are rolled out.

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