Microsoft releases new Outlook for Mac, says Office coming

I’m not very keen on Outlook but it is a gigantically popular app and it’s good to see it being updated:

Today we are announcing the new Outlook for the Mac, which delivers improved performance and reliability and a fresh look and feel that is unmistakably Microsoft Office. This release offers a more familiar and consistent experience between Outlook on the PC, Outlook on the web and Outlook Web App (OWA) for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

The new Outlook for Mac includes:

Better performance and reliability as a result of a new threading model and database improvements.
A new modern user interface with improved scrolling and agility when switching between Ribbon tabs.

New Outlook for Mac available to Office 365 customers – Office Blogs

Read the full piece for more about Outlook and the future of Office on the Mac.

Use an email client instead of the web

I’m prompted to say this to you because of an short article about Gmail whose writer says:

I’ve been using Gmail since 2003 exclusively. It’s awesome. And when I learned the keyboard shortcuts in 2006, it vastly increased my email productivity. I highly recommend taking the time to learn them.

Yesterday I discovered the biggest boon to my email productivity since shortcuts: Gmail Offline, a Google Chrome app that does just what it says: Allows you to read and write email (in the browser) when you’re not connected to the Internet. But that’s not the key point. I haven’t even been offline since I started using it.

Do Your Email Faster by Getting Offline – Ev Williams, Medium (13 May 2014)

He sounds so surprised. Here’s the thing. If you get to your email by firing up Firefox or Safari or Chrome or (twitch) Internet Explorer, then logging on to a site like ( as was) or, you’re reading your email online. (* See that asterisk? It’s important. But shush, I didn’t say it yet.) You’re reading your email online. That’s nice. You can do that from anywhere, absolutely anywhere that you can get an internet connection and it’s fine.

So long as you have an internet connection. You are bollixed if you don’t. And so long as your email provider remains your email provider. A friend recently moved from one broadband supplier to another and in the process was told she would lose her old email address. You know that’s a problem: if there are any statistics into why so many people remain subscribers to AOL then they probably conclude that it is solely to keep that familiar address. Same with Hotmail. You keep putting up with the crap because you’ve given everybody that bleedin’ email address and there is nothing you can do about it.

Until forced. Then you change to something good and that may well be Gmail but this is another story.

Back to the online versus offline stuff.

If you work in an office and your PC or Mac there includes Microsoft Outlook, you’re getting your email offline. It might be stored on your company’s network servers but it’s not sitting out there on the internet waiting for you to login or for Microsoft to switch you off.

Back when this used to be an either/or kind of situation, there were advantages and disadvantages to online and offline email. I have always used offline, though, and I’ve done so because it means I have all the email right here. It’s mine and on my Mac and on my backups, you can’t take it away from me without theft and some serious effort.

It’s called using an email client: Apple’s OS X Mail is a client, Microsoft Outlook is a client and email is served to them. Your computer goes off to get email for you and brings it back, you don’t have to keep going to a website or leaving a website tab open.

Also back in the day, leaving that connection open cost you money. I knew someone who stay online while slowly peck-typing her emails, not appreciating that it was only when she hit Send that she needed to be online. I did tell her that and her internet connection did keep dropping the line because, as far as it was concerned, she wasn’t using it for a very long time. But I have no doubt that she persisted until whenever she got broadband.

These days we can have both worlds. I have all the advantages of having my emails on my Mac but they are also on my iPad and iPhone, moreover they are also also on any computer I chose to login to. Where you might have to go to to get your email, I can elect to go to to get mine. I did this most recently at a secure mental health establishment where I wasn’t allowed my iPad or iPhone but could use their office computers.

So that’s all good, then. You can get your email online or offline, whatever what you like, and so long as your supplier doesn’t stiff you, you’re so good to go that you never even realise there’s any choice to be made. Until you do what this Williams writer did and move to an email client, then you find out the other big benefit. The benefit so big that it surprised him and it now surprises me that not everybody knew this:

The reason Gmail Offline makes you faster at your email is because:

It’s freaking fast. Gmail proper is fast, most of the time. But sometimes it takes a second or two (or three or…) to archive or reload your inbox. When you’re plowing through email — especially with shortcuts — that seems like an eternity. Gmail Offline removes those waits, pretty much completely.

Yep. That would do it.

If you’re on Gmail, Williams is enthusing about Gmail Offline, and here’s where we:

*throw in an asterisk.

Purely and entirely to be awkward and not because Google wants to take over the world, Gmail Offline uses your web browser. It has to be Google Chrome with extensions so it’s really turning your browser into something that uses local storage like a regular document-creating application. But it’s your browser. So all that stuff I said about how you can tell you’re reading email online because you use a web browser, not so much.

But offline is faster? Very much.

Making email addresses as secure as passwords

I do know someone who deliberately picked a hard-to-remember email address, something like because that looked professional. No, I have not one single idea either. I’d email to ask her why, but I can’t remember her address.

However, friend-of-the-blog Daniel Hardy has spotted another, better, easier-to-do way of making an address that’s hard to guess. Easy to remember, hard to guess. He tweeted:

I remember you saying you use this to combat spam, turns out it’s good for security too
Tweet – Daniel Hardy (3 September 2014)

The thing I’d use to counter spam was creating sort-of fake email addresses. They’re only sort-of fake because they really work. But they’re not your real one. What I really recommend is getting your own domain name so that you can make up any address, any time. So I might sign up for Tesco with an address of and it will work. But should Tesco ever sell out its email address to, say, an alien invasion force from beyond the stars, I can just block anything sent to

But there is now also a very smart way to do this without the trouble of getting your own domain name. If you’re a Gmail user and your address is, say, then you can give Tesco the address and it will work. It will work, the fine people at Tesco will be able to email you whatever it is they burn to email you, but at any time you can nobble this new address. And at no time do they know your real one.

Dan saw this on The Verge which goes on to say:

Now, this is not a security panacea by any stretch. You should still be using a password manager to help you keep track of all your different passwords — and now, different email addresses. If you forget the specific email address you’re using, you’re even more out of luck than you are if you forget your password. If you don’t even know the email address you registered with, you won’t be able to even get to those security questions. I personally use 1Password, which I like because it securely stores my data in the cloud (yes, there is an irony there), but there are others like LastPass that seem generally trustworthy.

How to make your email address as hard to guess as your password – Dieter Bohn, The Verge (September 3, 2014)

The full piece does cover the times that this can’t work. And while this particular trick is specific to Gmail, the piece goes on to at least begin covering some similar things you can do with Outlook and others.