Apple Mail vs Out­look for Mac: Which macOS Email App Is Better

Parth Shah

Apple and Microsoft go toe-to-toe on several fronts like Word processing apps. However, Apple aims to offer a solid email experience with the Mail app on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. That's why you can't help but look at a viable alternative from Microsoft's camp - Outlook for Mac.

Mail app

Recently, Microsoft revealed the brand-new look for Outlook for Mac, which is available through the Fast Insider group. That coupled with a bunch of other software integration in the Outlook for Mac app makes it a viable rival to the Apple Mail app.

In this post, we shall compare Outlook Mail for Mac to the default Apple Mail app. The comparison will be based on UI, Email Organization, Compose Mail, features, and apps integration. Let’s get started.

Cross-Platform Availability

I know cross-platform availability doesn’t matter much in an Email app. But I’m mentioning here so that you can expect a seamless experience on every platform. Apple Mail is only available on iOS, macOS, and iPadOS.

On the other hand, Microsoft Outlook is accessible on Android, iOS, Windows, macOS and Web.

User Interface and Customization

Microsoft's plans to redesign the interface of Outlook for Mac is much needed to keep it in line with other platforms. There's a catch when it comes to trying out the new Outlook for Mac. You'll have to install it along with other Office apps through an ISO installer.

When you open Outlook for Mac, you'll notice the Compose (New Message) button and Search bar at the top. On the left sidebar, you'll find your email accounts and other folders. It is impressive how Microsoft uses a column layout style and adds the calendar integration to the extreme right. You won’t have a hard time navigating the new look.

Outlook ui

You can change the default fonts for new mail, reply mail from the Outlook settings.

Apple Mail looks quite vanilla compared to the Outlook. The default interface shows the Email as well as folders on the left sidebar, messages list in the center, and mail view on the right. Interestingly, Apple Mail offers several customization options.

Mail ui

Go to Mail > Preferences > Fonts & Colors. From there, you can change the message list font, message font, and even fixed-width font. Apple Mail also allows you to change the list view preview from the default 2 lines to 3 lines or more.

Mail font style

Compose Mail

Apple Mail offers a bunch of editing options when you compose a mail. While writing a mail, you can change the font type, size, color, play with bold, italic options, and even add a bullet or number list.

I like how the Mail app lets you add the picture or scanned documents directly from the connected iPhone.

Mail compose

Outlook’s compose menu toolbar is richer than Apple Mail. It lets you highlight the words. You can even add tables and signature. Guess what? Outlook for Mac also supports templates. Yes, you can create ready-to-use templates with images and text. You can save them for later use. While composing an email, just tap on the three-dot menu above and select view templates and add a relevant one in the mail.

Outlook compose

Such templates can be when you are composing emails related to specific subjects like marketing surveys, inquiries, and so on. Just create a master template with necessary text for each type or topic of emails you use often.

Additional Features

If you like flagging emails, the Apple Mail offers a couple of options for neater organization. For instance, you can assign an orange flag for Bank mails and green flag to all finance mails. Most mail apps only support the normal flag (Red color) option.

Apple mail flag

From the flagged mail section, you can quickly jump to the exact mail that you are looking for. Apple Mail also supports Rules. You can select Mail > Preferences > Rules and create personalized email rules for you. I have created a rule to archive all the emails that come with Coronavirus in the subject.

Mail rules

We can only hope that Apple integrates services such as Reminders, Calendar, and Notes in the Mail app. It would be easy to set reminders for an email or create an event for the Mail app meeting.

Outlook for Mac app also supports to Rules options. I would highly recommend you to set some of the effective rules to organize emails like a pro. The app comes with Calendar, Sticky Notes, and Microsoft To-Do integration.

Outlook calendar

It works like a charm. If you are using Outlook as your mail provider and if you flag an email in it, the mail automatically gets saved into the Flagged mail section in the Microsoft To-Do app.

Flagged mail

Email Export and Third-Party Integration

Apple allows you to export any mail as a PDF file menu. Open any mail and go to File > Export as PDF, and it will create a PDF file from the selected mail. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t offer any third-party app integration.

Export as pdf mail

Microsoft offers a dedicated third-party app store. You can tap on the three-dot menu and go to Get add-ins from a dedicated store in Outlook.

Outlook add ins

For example, I use OneNote and Trello extensions in Outlook to directly send the selected mail to the OneNote or Trello.

Use Mail Like a Pro on Mac

The comparison above gives you a clear view of the Apple Mail and Outlook’s strength and weaknesses. Apple Mail wins with the simple UI, mail organization, and iPhone integration. However, several folks complain that it is sluggish and buggy. Also, it doesn't translate to a pleasant performance on iOS either. Outlook for Mac brings a breath of fresh air with Microsoft apps integration, richer compose menu, and third-party add-ins. Hopefully, the Outlook for iOS also gets a facelift soon. As of now, I’m sticking with Microsoft’s offering. What about you? Sound off in the comments section below.

Next up: Recently got a new Mac? Read the post below find the best Mac apps to stay organized.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Parth Shah

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Parth Shah

Parth previously worked at EOTO.tech covering tech news. He is currently freelancing at Guiding Tech writing about apps comparison, tutorials, software tips and tricks and diving deep into iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows platforms.