How to Set Up the 2011 Microsoft Outlook for Mac Program

Many Mac users are past Windows users, and because of this they often miss some things that Windows had and Mac doesn’t have.  One thing that Window’s users end up missing the most is the Windows email program called Outlook. They don’t have to miss it though, as there is actually an Outlook for Mac too. Like the Windows Outlook program, Outlook 2011 for Mac is a powerful tool that can be used to manage email, calendars, contacts, and tasks.

Although Outlook on your Mac will be quite similar to the Windows version, there are some minor differences. In order to be able to use it effectively, you will need to at least understand the basics such as how to set up an email account, how to identify interface elements that can be used to accomplish basic tasks, and how to add contacts to your address book.

Setting Up an Email Account in Outlook on Mac

On a Mac OS X, Outlook can be used to manage multiple email accounts including Windows Live, Microsoft Exchange, POP, and IMAP accounts. However, before you are able to start sending, and receiving email messages, you will first need to set up your email account. In order to do this, you will need your email account information and your email server details. Once you have that information, you are ready to set up your Mac’s Outlook email account by following these steps:

  • On the Tools menu, click on Accounts.
  • There should now be an Add an account menu. On that, click email. Unless your account is located on an Exchange server. If it is, click Exchange.
  • In the next box that pops up, enter your email address and password. Then click Add Account. If Outlook for Mac recognizes your email provider, the configure automatically box will remain selected. If you do not want Outlook to attempt to configure your server information for you, simply clear this selection and enter the server information manually.
  • Verify that your account information and server information are correct. Then close the Accounts box.
  • You should now see a folder for your newly created email account in the folder list. However, if you do not see this folder immediately, don’t worry. There are many factors that can influence how long it takes for this folder to appear, such as the amount of messages that needs to be downloaded and the amount of traffic to the server.

Getting to Know The Outlook for Mac User Interface

Before you start using your newly created email account, it is probably a good idea to familiarize yourself with the user interface.

  1. The Search Box This box allows you to manually find items that are in the current folder. To use it, you simply type keywords into the search box. The Search tab appears on the ribbon and provides many additional search options. For example, the ability to search All Items instead of one folder.
  2. Ribbon This is the tabbed command bar across the top of any window or work area. The ribbon organizes everything into logical groups. Different windows will give different options on the ribbon. For example, the mail window will give the mail, contacts, or calendar options.
  3. Reading Pane This area speaks for itself. It is the place where you can read your email messages, or see details about specific items such as tasks and contacts. If you want to change the location of the reading pane, you can do so in the View menu. Simply point to Reading Pane and select a location.
  4. Navigation Pane If you are in mail view, the navigation pane will display the folder list. If you are in calendar, tasks, contacts, and notes views, it will allow you to show and hide items in categories. You can turn the navigation pane completely off by going to View and then Navigation Pane.
  5. View Switcher These buttons allow you to quickly and easily switch between the main Outlook views. They are, mail, contacts, calendar, notes, and tasks.

Finishing Some Set Up in Outlook: Adding Contacts

Now that you have your email set up to now stream through your Outlook on Mac program, it’s a good time to add contacts to your address book so that it’s all ready for your emails. The address book is also a perfect place to manage personal and professional contact information. Once a contact is added to your address book, you can use the information across the entire Outlook application. For example, you can send an email, or meeting reminder without having to remember everybodies email address.  To add a contact to the address book, follow these directions:

  • On the view switcher click on Contacts.
  • The Home tab should be the active tab. On this tab click Contact.
  • Enter the contact information for the person you are adding to the address book. There are many fields available, and it is recommended to include at least the name and email address, add more information if you feel it is important, or you know it.
  • If you want to add a picture for the contact, simply double-click on the placeholder thumbnail in the contact window.
  • Make sure that the Contact tab is the active tab, then click Save & Close.
  • You should now see the contact information in the contact list.

Final Tips and Features

If you are familiar with Outlook for Windows then you know that this program has many more features for you to enjoy. If you’re not familiar with Outlook, don’t worry, you can easily familiarize yourself with Outlook on your Mac by just clicking through the various tabs and areas and seeing what options and features you have.

Now that you have your email and contacts set up, one thing you may want to do is to create folders so that you can keep your email organized. You can also set up a task list and calendar to help stay even more organized.

50 Kimberly Carver


Kimberly Carver is a trained Mac Specialist/Expert. Trained both in school and on the job she continues to educate herself about Macs at every opportunity she gets. Kim’s official training and areas of expertise include: Mac specialist, AOL IT Tech, certified paralegal, research specialist, and licensed private investigator.