3 Major Omissions in the New Outlook for Mac

by | Feb 24, 2021

My initial review of the rushed-to-market new Outlook for Mac called three strikes against the program and suggested that you postpone migration…after further consideration (and a tip from a client), I’m now ruling that the third strike was a foul tip.

One of my biggest problems with the update was its apparent lack of support for plugins. It turns out that they are still supported, but access was moved to the three-dot “kebab menu” in the corner — mysteriously hidden among second-tier misfit toys.

Using this menu, I’m again able to connect my favorite plugins (including Slack, Calendly, and an anti-phishing tool that’s part of our Security+ suite).

However, this Outlook version still can’t import ICS meetings and doesn’t support shared/delegated mailboxes, so YMMV.

Overall, the renewed (if less accessible) ability to incorporate plugins, combined with some attractive design features, has narrowly convinced me to make the switch to the new Outlook while awaiting further improvements; it’s still no Most Valuable Player but for me, is now viable enough.

If you want to learn how to add add-ins on your Mac, go here.

The new Outlook continues to benefit from improvements, even in the last few days since I wrote this update (Notice the crossed-out words!). Want to know the latest? Take a look at the most recent announcement.

For many of us, Outlook is our center of operations. But is the new Mac version really up to par?

Many of us are familiar with the MVP method of doing things (minimum viable product). A developer or manufacturer gets their offering into shape just enough to push it to market with the intention of revamping it over time.

It’s a tradeoff – you get speed to market and an increased ability to compete, and your customers get the product in their hands. There are bugs, hurdles, and snafus, though.

Sadly, the new Outlook for Mac is most certainly an MVP in every sense of the term.

What’s with the New Outlook?

Ok, so Windows went to work redesigning Outlook so that it would better fit within the Mac ecosystem. We’ve been testing it in-house for a couple of months now and are still not ready to roll it out to our clients.

If you want to see all the new features introduced in the New Outlook, go here.

If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, open your existing Outlook and you’ll see a blue window at the top right that says “New Outlook”. Clicking that switches you over.

Don’t click it yet. Hear me out first.

First Impressions Can Be Misleading

When I first switched over, I was impressed. It was cool. Sexy, even. You could see the effort the design team took to polish everything up using Apple’s design language while still managing to communicate “This Is A Windows Product” without any ambiguity.

I took a quick turn around the commands. Everything seemed to be in order, easily accessible, even intuitive in some ways.

Then I started putting it through its paces and things got a little weird.

Microsoft states that these are the features not yet available:

  • Block sender
  • Contact lists
  • Online archive
  • Resend message

There are 3 other issues we have found and replicated that I want to share with you here. In my eyes, these are deal-breakers that cause me to hold off on making the switch:

  1. Unable to import ICS files as meetings
  2. No support for shared or delegated mailboxes
  3. No Add-Ins (at all!)

Unable to import ICS files as meetings

Our team uses ICS files pretty regularly. I’d venture a guess that many companies use them. If you’re using Calendly or any of the growing number of calendaring/scheduling apps out there, ICS files probably have some role in the process.

The bad news for Outlook users is that the all-new Mac version, well, doesn’t. Doesn’t what? It doesn’t import ICS files properly for one thing. I tried it myself using Calendly. I double-clicked on the ICS file, and Outlook just added it to the message as an attachment.

That was a bummer.

However, I wasn’t entirely sure if it was just me so I opened a support ticket in-house and my team dug into it. Our team confirmed the problem was with Outlook, and I was not the only one affected, either. Another of our team members experienced worse troubles – trying to use ICS files caused Outlook to crash and fail to reopen! There was an easy fix, though. Disable the new Outlook by toggling the button in the top right corner.

No support for shared or delegated mailboxes

Before I did that, though, it was time for a little more testing just to make sure we’d identified the primary issues.

It turns out there was another problem – the new Outlook doesn’t support shared or delegated mailboxes. That might not be a dealbreaker, but it’s something to be aware of.

No Add-Ins (at all!)

This third and (for me) the biggest deal-breaker to moving to the New Outlook is the complete omission of Add-Ins.

When Microsoft brought Add-Ins and the Microsoft Store to the Mac suite of Microsoft Office apps, it was a huge breakthrough.

There are several extremely useful add-ins that I use regularly, like Slack, Calend.ly, and Catch Phish (out email phishing training security tool). Lawyers LOVE the Add-Ins that integrate with their case management software, like Clio and Rocket Matter.

So if you use any Add-Ins – they are completely gone in the New Outlook. So is the store.

The Verdict

Ultimately, the new Outlook is sleek and sexy. It looks great! I just wish it operated as smoothly as it looks.

My verdict? Not ready for prime time, so use it at your own risk.

This is definitely a case where an MVP was a little too M and not enough V. I mean, ICS files and managed/delegated mailboxes see pretty widespread use, and not just in the world of Macs.

Understand going in that if you use ICS files, shared/delegated mailboxes, or Add-Ins, it’s going to be a problem. Here’s hoping that Microsoft fixes those issues with the next update because I really like everything else about it.