Outlook 2011 for Mac is AMAZING

Outlook 2011 for Mac is AMAZING

Up until 2 days ago, I always felt like something was missing. As a Mac user I have been exposed to a plethora of amazing software that Windows developers cannot come close to replicating. I could modify any file on a website in a matter of seconds using Coda, flip through databases and execute queries with Sequel Pro, schedule upcoming tasks with Things, and the list goes on. But a trusted email software was always missing.

Apple Mail

I used Apple’s Mail application to send emails throughout the day, but using it almost drove me to start handwriting letters; it would crash incessantly. Oh, and do you have Exchange 2010? Sorry, Mail can’t utilize its features – not even push.

I was excited about Snow Leopard because I knew the new Mail could handle Exchange, and it can, but only if you’re using 2007 or below. Also, if you are using Exchange 2010 with Mail and you enable the new Archive Mailbox feature, Mail will no longer connect to the Exchange server. At this point I wanted to rip my hair out. In my frustration, I had the thought of switching to a PC just to experience a real E-mail client. Of course, I would never actually do this as my productivity would plummet.

Outlook 2011 for Mac

While perusing the Apple store I noticed that Microsoft released Office 2011. I didn’t read anything about it but I knew Office 2008 was dated and buggy so I picked up a copy. Once the installation completed, I looked over the new icons on my Dock, and what is this I see? Is that a big capital “O”? No… it can’t be!? Microsoft Outlook has arrived for OS X.

Increased Productivity

Oh, the joy since that day! I can send E-mails at blinding speed. Below are some other reasons why I say that Outlook 2011 for Mac is AMAZING.

Everything under one roof

Everything under one roof

In Outlook my E-mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes are integrated into one application. Something I never understood about the standard Mac software was the separation of utilities. Why have your address book and your calendar detached from your e-mail client? These things belong together. In Outlook I can quickly switch between each of these utilities using keyboard shortcuts (E-mail: ⌘+1, Calendar: ⌘+2, Contacts: ⌘+3, Tasks: ⌘+4, Notes: ⌘+5)

Memory Consumption

Outlook eats up about 68.7 MB of memory. Mail, Address Book, iCal and Stickies eat up 61.0 MB, 35.7 MB, 40.2 MB and 12.3 MB respectively, totalling 149.2 MB of memory to perform the same tasks Outlook can do alone. I don’t factor Tasks into this equation because, as nice as Outlook Tasks are, I still prefer to use Things.


Locating a message In Mail can be a pain. You type in some criteria in the search box and it defaults to search who the message is ‘From’. You can modify this criteria to search within the content of a message, the ‘To’ field or the ‘Subject’ field, but that’s all. I don’t want my mail client limiting my search capabilities. Outlook leverages the NSPredicate object of Objective-C and lets you utilize its full power in their Advanced Search. The level of granularity is astounding, and you can even write your own raw query!

Advanced search with NSPredicate


Sometimes in Mail, it is difficult to go back and read a long list of messages and all the replies that go with them. Outlook makes this simple with Conversations. A Conversation is a logical grouping of an original message with all replies associated with it. It also logs other relevant data, such as the last person to reply. This feature is a lifesaver when looking through old E-mails. It can get obnoxious when looking through newly arrived messages, but, thankfully, it can be disabled.


Outlook 2011 Overview

Outlook 2011 is overwhelming – in the good sense of the word. It is jam-packed with all sorts of great features and customizations. I can:

  • Move the reading pane to any position
  • Schedule a meeting based on an E-mail
  • Quickly contact a coworker via Communicator
  • View a preview of “My Day”
  • And many, many more great features

Outlook 2011 feels more like a Mac app than Mail does. The Office Mac team at Microsoft went all out and I am overly impressed. Where Mail is a hurdle, Outlook is a pair of rocket-powered rollerblades. It’ll really fly once someone creates a Quicksilver Plugin.

If you don’t have Outlook 2011, get it. Now.

15 replies
  1. Zsolt
    Zsolt says:

    You say:
    Outlook leverages the NSPredicate object of Objective-C and lets you utilize its full power in their Advanced Search

    Would you be so kind to post an example of a raw query?
    I would like to write a raw query showing me all the messages from both inbox and sent items, so I need an OR whereas the GUI allows me just AND condition

  2. afrederick
    afrederick says:


    For some reason there is no guide on the raw query that I can find online. After much digging I located the XML schema that Outlook uses for these column names. It will let you get pretty granular with your raw query search. I attempted to figure out a way to perform your query of “showing me all the messages from both inbox and sent items” but was unable. There is an attribute called “com_microsoft_outlook_folderID” which is an Integer type, however I tried from 0 to 100 trying different IDs and the only thing that came up was a single Contact entry for ID 14, very bizarre. Here is the file location:

    /Applications/Microsoft Office 2011/Microsoft Outlook.app/Contents/Library/Spotlight/Microsoft Outlook.mdimporter/Contents/Resources/schema.xml

    When you see a folder named “Contents”, that means from the Finder you must right click on the .app or .mdimporter files and choose “Show Package Contents”, that will bring you into the application subfolder. One possibility I see to achieve your query is if you utilized categories for everything. There is another attribute in the schema called “com_microsoft_outlook_primaryCategory”. For example say everything in your Inbox had a label and everything in your Sent Items had another label and you knew the Integer IDs of those categories (through trial and error) you could do the following raw query:

    com_microsoft_outlook_primaryCategory=12 || com_microsoft_outlook_primaryCategory=13

    Where 12 and 13 are the category IDs. The OR (||) statement does work with the raw query. And remember when performing your query to select “All Mail” or “All Items” from the Select ribbon, otherwise it will only search within the folder you currently have selected. Take a look through that schema.xml and see if you can get something working, let me know if you do!

  3. John Cook
    John Cook says:

    Gas anybody had any luck with these RAW queries. I want to display all messages recieved in 5 mail account in the last week.




    • Andrew Frederick
      Andrew Frederick says:

      In trying to decipher your comment I believe you want to combine messages from 5 completely different E-mail accounts. If you read my previous response you would know exactly where to go to find the answer, but let me help. In my case I have only 1 account and therefor this works for me to show every single email from every single possible folder:

      com_microsoft_outlook_accountID = 1

      Assuming Outlook increments Account IDs, you could try:

      com_microsoft_outlook_accountID = 1 || com_microsoft_outlook_accountID = 2 || com_microsoft_outlook_accountID = 3 || com_microsoft_outlook_accountID = 4 || com_microsoft_outlook_accountID = 5

      Remember to select “All Mail” in the Search ribbon or it will only query mail from a specific folder.

  4. Jo-Lee
    Jo-Lee says:

    For some reason, I can’t open this location on my computer. I get an error that I don’t have permission to the xml file, even though I gave myself permission to the Office folder, and everything inside. I am trying to use up a filter that shows all mail that has not been flagged OR categorized. I’ve got the category part working, but not the flagged part because I can’t find the schema for that…any help is much appreciated.

  5. DaveB
    DaveB says:

    Thanks for the clue on the XML schema location. Why is it so hard to find out how to make a smart folder that shows all unread mail form all my (5) email accounts?

    I wonder where isMicrosoft’s documentation of RAW QUERIES?

    And why didn’t they just include and OR/AND choice in the smart folder query edit interface?

    To get all the category ID numbers for your query, you can enumerate the Outlook Mac email categories using Applescript.


    open apple script editor,
    paste the code below in the window
    at the bottom of the window click the event button twice (if you click only once it will select both events and replies)
    and run the code

    In the lower window pane you should get something like:
    (*Junk 1*)
    (*PersonalToDo 3*)
    (*Chris stuff 11*)
    (*WorkWaitingReply 12*)
    (*WorkFollowUp 13*)
    (*WorkToDo 14*)
    (*PersonalFollowUp 15*)
    (*PersonalWaitingReply 16*)

    Here is the code:

    tell application “Microsoft Outlook”
    set folderCount to 0
    repeat (count of every category) times
    set folderCount to folderCount + 1
    set folderName to (name of category folderCount)
    set folderID to (id of category folderCount)
    log folderName & ” ” & folderID
    end repeat
    end tell

  6. DaveB
    DaveB says:

    FYI, With the schema now known thanks to you, I was able to create a raw query that shows all unread mail from all accounts…

    (com_microsoft_outlook_accountID > 0) && (com_microsoft_outlook_unread!=0)

    But the problem seems to be that it fails to recursively search child folders for unread emails.

    In my case, I have several IMAP email accounts on several servers. One is a Google central IMAP email account. (I like Google’s spam filtering and this setup allows me to pass all emails through the Gmail smam filter.)

    I set Google gmail to fetch my emails from various POP Yahoo email accounts. Then I set my IMAP folders to sort the mail based on the account it came from.

    So I have one GMAIL folder in Outlook, and that GMAIL folder has several Yahoo subfolders.

    So far I am not able to get Outlook to show unread email sitting in the subfolders….?

  7. Andrew Frederick
    Andrew Frederick says:

    @DaveB when you are performing the actual query take a look at the top left of the Outlook window, you’ll see “Folder”, “Subfolders”, “All Mail”, and “All Items”. The first is selected by default, try changing where Outlook is performing the search and see if that fixes the issue.

    @Jo-Lee is it possible that an Administrator installed Outlook on your machine? What kind of error message are you getting when you try to read the schema file? When is the error occurring exactly?

  8. PGB
    PGB says:

    I moved from Entourage 2008 to Outlook 2011. Best part: it launches and quits much faster. (Also, I agree big time that having mail, contacts, and calendar all in one application is much better than using separate apps.) Worst part of Outlook so far: delete a message and it goes to the Deleted Items folder (good) and disappears from any smart folder that excludes the Deleted Items folder (good)…if you then empty the deleted items folder, the message is not really deleted (bad), it goes to some unnamed folder and reappears in the smart folders that previously excluded it (bad!). Smart queries are cluttered with messages that you’ve deleted AND emptied from the Deleted Items folder AND synchronized off the server! You’ve done three things to get rid of an unimportant message, and Outlook keeps showing it to you. I had to discover the folder ID of this unnamed folder, and exclude those messages by adding a Raw Query to my smart folder (com_microsoft_outlook_folderID != 11). I don’t know if that ID is the same for everybody.

    Here’s a posting from a guy who found another way to investigate the metadata:

    Also, you should use the possessive form of “it” in your article. That would be “its” not “it’s.” “It’s” is a contraction for “it is” or “it has.” (“Sorry, Mail can’t utilize it is features.”)

  9. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    Has anyone figured out how to categorize emails as they come in (color code email addresses so when they are arrived, they come in already coded)? I used to ave this on my PC & miss this feature. I know how to mark after the fact, but not so they come in marked.

    Many thanks!!!


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