PROS / Outlook is optimized for mobile use and connects well with your social media.
CONS / Outlook doesn't allow you to set up aliases.
VERDICT / Outlook is an excellent free email service that lets you integrate your social media and access your other email accounts all in one place.
Microsoft has been a player in the free email account market nearly since the beginning. In the past few years, it has gradually transferred every email service in its portfolio to its current email program, Outlook. This stylish and simple email provider is perfectly compatible with smartphones and tablets. Outlook is the winner of our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award because it offers unlimited storage space, social media integration and enhanced customization options.
If you were once with Hotmail or Live, Microsoft likely switched you over to Outlook long ago. Outlook has quite an updated look and a much fancier feature set compared to Hotmail and Live. Outlook’s email service is fast and easy to use, and it integrates beautifully with your desktop computer or smart devices.
When you sign up for your free Outlook email account, you automatically have access to 7GB of cloud storage with OneDrive, and you can purchase additional space with a subscription if you want. This large amount of storage removes worries of running out of space. Because Outlook uses OneDrive, you no longer have to worry about your attachment file size either.
Packed with features and tools, Outlook makes working with and accessing your email easy and convenient. When you use any Windows 8 device, PC, tablet or smartphone, all you have to do is sign in and your email, calendar and files are there ready to use. Additionally, Outlook offers IMAP support, so you can set up your email on your smartphone or tablet email app.
One function we are particularly impressed with is how you can add other email accounts to your Outlook profile. This function checks your inboxes and brings all of the email into Outlook. This is extremely convenient, reducing the time it takes to log in and out of multiple email accounts. In addition, Outlook lets you write and send emails from your other email account addresses without having to log in to your other accounts.
Outlook is as serious about social media as you are. By linking your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter accounts with Outlook, you can follow the feeds and messages of your friends. You can chat and comment with your friends or see their latest tweets without having to close your email.
The Outlook email service doesn't offer its own video chat feature, but because Microsoft owns Skype, you can video-chat right from your inbox using Skype. All you have to do is install the Skype web plugin, and then you can start a video chat from the messaging section in your Outlook inbox.
Because this is a free email service, it comes as no surprise that there are ads on your inbox page. Fortunately, the loud and flash-heavy ads you may be used to are gone. Instead, a thin column to the right of your inbox emails contains text-only ads in neutral colors. This is less distracting, and the ads disappear when you open or create an email. Microsoft does not scan your email for the purpose of serving you ads, and you can opt out of receiving any ads by visiting the opt-out page and changing your preferences. This is a welcome change from being assaulted by ads that are annoying, inappropriate or insensitive.
One of Outlook's downsides is it doesn't offer you the ability to create aliases. The aliases feature would allow you to use the email account to automatically forward your emails to another email account in order to keep your primary email address masked.
This email platform is designed with efficiency and ease of use in mind. Writing a new email with the plain text composer is easy, and it includes basic word processing features such as a spell-checker, a dictionary and a thesaurus to help you write. We are very impressed with the inclusion of Office 365 in OneDrive. This feature lets you open, edit or contribute to a Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint document. This is a great way to increase your productivity from anywhere, on any device, since you will not have to purchase or install Microsoft Office to get your work done.
With this free email service, your inbox is easy to maintain and organize. You can manually sort all your incoming mail into prespecified or custom folders, or you can define rules to sort your mail according to email sender address, words found in the email, or groups such as work, family, book club, PTA or any other category your heart desires.
Outlook does an exceptional job keeping spam out of your inbox, boasting a 97 percent success rate. If you do receive spam, simply mark it as such and you'll never see it in your inbox again. A great tool included with Outlook is Sweep. You can set Sweep to automatically delete or keep email out of your inbox before it arrives. This helps keep your inbox uncluttered, and you can avoid being disturbed by useless email inbox notifications on your phone.
We are glad to see Outlook has a button that automatically sends an unsubscribe notice to any email newsletter. This is particularly handy when you miss a checkbox and a website signs you up for multiple newsletters you didn't want.
Outlook scans all incoming and outgoing mail for viruses, and it blocks images and restricts downloads from unfamiliar addresses. You can choose to trust all messages from a particular email address and Outlook will not block anything from it from then on. Outlook also blocks incoming messages from known phishers; however, you should still always be cautious when opening email from someone you do not know.
Help & Support
Microsoft offers help online for Outlook with FAQs and forums. If you are unable to find the answers you are looking for, you can contact customer service by email. We found the customer service to be helpful and accurate.
Outlook has come a long way from its humble Hotmail origins. It provides an easy-to-use, flexible email service with intuitive spam and junk mail filtering. We love the integration of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and we're impressed with how easy it is to use on any web-enabled device. This is one of the best free email services available, sure to make your life easier so you can focus less on your inbox and spend more time enjoying life.