Goodbye Microsoft Outlook 2011, It Was Nice Knowing You – Part 1

Ever since Microsoft Office 2011 came out for the Mac, I’ve been using Outlook 2011 as my main e-mail client. I have had challenges with Apple Mail in the past and Outlook 2011 promised to be a lot better than Microsoft Entourage, which was a second rate e-mail client for Mac users. But two things have made me switch back to Apple Mail. The first is the fact that Outlook is not compatible with iCloud and there is no timetable as to when it might be. I figured it would be nice to have my contacts and the like accessible from anywhere. That ties into my second reason. With the troubles of RIM, I figured that my next smartphone is likely to be an iPhone. Thus moving back to Apple Mail would be the way to go.

Now when you make this switch, you’re actually doing more than moving to Apple Mail:

  • Your contacts go into the Address Book application.
  • Your appointments go into the Calendar application.
  • Your notes go into the Notes application.
  • Your to-do’s go into the Reminders application.

So as you can see, it’s not a minor undertaking. The big issue was going to be exporting my mail from Outlook 2011 to Apple Mail. Now Microsoft doesn’t make this easy as their import and export function doesn’t export into anything that Apple Mail can deal with. However, it does have a hidden “feature” that allows you to export your mail in MBOX format which Apple Mail does understand. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open Outlook
  2. Click and drag each folder onto the desktop. Please note that you must drag each individual folder (such as the Inbox, Sent Items, etc.) separately. Each drag will take a while to complete if you have a lot of Mail so be patient.
  3. Open Mail.
  4. Go to File, Import Mailboxes and select the last option “Files in MBOX format.” Click Continue.
  5. Pick the first MBOX file on the desktop and click continue.
  6. Mail will import the MBOX file and place it in a folder on the left hand side called “Import.”
  7. Repeat step 6 for the other MBOX files.
  8. Once you’ve done the above for each MBOX file you will then need to drag and drop inside Mail to rearrange the imported folders into their proper places.
  9. Click on the inbox and click Rebuild. That way you know that your import is healthy. Do the same for the sent items and other folders.

Because I have a lot of mail (over 27,000 things in my inbox and sent items), this process took me about two hours. But I was able to get all my mail across to Apple Mail.

Finally, you have to make Apple Mail your default e-mail client. Simply go to Mail, Preferences, General to set your default e-mail client to Apple Mail.

So, step one was done. Now what about the rest of it? I’ll cover that in part 2 tomorrow.

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