Switch from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail

Differences between Outlook and Gmail


Microsoft Outlook and Gmail have many similar features and important differences. This article compares the Outlook computer app to Gmail on the web and highlights the benefits of switching to Gmail.

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Why switch to Gmail?

Gmail is a web-native app

Gmail was designed for the web, and it was built for flexibility and collaboration. That gives it advantages over email apps that were designed for desktop computers and built for working alone. For example:

  • Gmail is always available on-the-go—Gmail runs in a web browser instead of an app on your computer. Using a web browser makes it easier to collaborate on projects at work or school, from anywhere, on any device. 
  • You never lose your work—Your changes are automatically saved as you work. There's no need to constantly click Save or set up autosave.

Gmail features are powered by Google AI

When you switch to Gmail, you get powerful AI (artificial intelligence) features including:

  • Smart compose and personalized suggestions—Get personalized writing suggestions while you type. This helps you write and respond to messages more quickly.  Learn more at the Gmail Help Center
  • Tabbed inbox—Have Gmail automatically sort your messages into categories like Promotions, Social, Updates, and Forums. This lets you see your most important messages first. Choose your inbox type
  • Unsubscribe suggestions—Gmail offers a simple unsubscribe button for promotional senders so you can remove your address from their mailing lists in one click. Learn more at the Gmail Help Center
  • Importance markers—Let Gmail use your past actions to predict which messages are likely to be important to you and mark them. Learn more at the Gmail Help Center
  • Spam filters—Gmail automatically blocks more than 99.9 percent of spam, phishing and malware, and protects over 1.5 billion inboxes. You can rest assured that suspicious email is automatically identified and sent to the spam folder. Learn more at the Gmail Help Center
  • Nudges—Gmail can smartly remind you about messages waiting for your response by bringing them back to the top of your inbox. Learn more at the Gmail Help Center

Gmail can update messages to display the latest content

When dynamic email is turned on, you can complete tasks—such as responding to events, filling out questionnaires, and replying to comments—in Google Docs, all without leaving Gmail. Learn more at the Gmail Help Center

Your communication channels are in one place

Send email, use Chat, start video meetings, and manage your calendar, all from within Gmail. You can also search for content across all your communication channels in one browser window. Learn how to choose communication channels

What you'll do differently in Gmail

When you switch to Gmail, it's natural to want to preserve your existing workflows. And while you can often replicate Outlook workflows in Gmail, switching is a great time to explore new ways of working. 

Use the best practices and tips below to learn what you'll do differently when you switch to Gmail.

Outlook workflow Gmail best practices & tips
Collaborate on copies of documents—Send copies to colleagues as email attachments. Work together on the same document—Share Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, update sharing permissions, and reply to comments without leaving Gmail. Learn more
Sort by sender—Use the search bar or the filter menu in your inbox. Find messages by searching—Search using advanced search criteria, chips, and apps search overlay. Learn more
Mark messages you send as important—Select the high importance marker. Use smarter subjectsHighlight the message's importance in the subject field. Learn more
Format text in emailApply text formats in the message window. Use Google Docs for special text formats— Apply commonly used text formats in the message window. For advanced formatting options or tables, edit and send email from Google Docs. Learn more
Add voting buttons to a message—Take a poll through email. Use Google Forms for surveys—Take a poll using Google Forms. Learn more
Use flags as followup-reminders—Use flags to track important messages you receive. Star or snooze important messagesStar, snooze, or mark messages you receive as important. Learn more
Group emailUse folders, rules, and categories. Filter & label emailUse labels and search filters (Gmail doesn't use folders). You can drag messages into labels, similar to the way you drag items into folders. Learn more
Post messages in folders—Send informational messages to folders in your account. Send messages to yourself—Then apply labels to the messages or mark them as important. Learn more
Use Public Folders—Share information within your organization. Use Google Drive—Share files and folders in Google Drive. Learn more at the Docs editors Help Center
Use a shared mailbox—Let multiple people send messages from a single email address. Delegate an email account—Let multiple people use a single email account, or create a Collaborative Inbox. Learn more at the Gmail Help Center
Use AutoArchive & Clean Sweep —Set up rules to periodically move messages from your inbox to the Outlook Archive file. Use filters to automatically archive messages—Archive messages, or set up filters to automatically move messages to the archive. No need to schedule rules to run at regular intervals. After you archive messages, you can still find them under the label, All MailLearn more


Feature differences at a glance

This section highlights differences between Outlook and Gmail features.

Feature or task Outlook (desktop) Gmail (web)
Open your email
Open Outlook on your computer.
Go to gmail.com in any browser. Learn more
Write email Use grammar and spelling checkers. Get grammar, spelling, and personalized writing suggestions. Learn more
Save drafts Click Homeand thenNew Email, then click Save. Click Compose. Drafts are saved automatically. To find a draft, go to the label named Drafts. Learn more
Attach an email to an email In the message window, insert an Outlook item, or drag an item into a message. Forward a message as an attachment, or drag a message into another message. Learn more
Save attachments Save attachments to your computer. Upload attachments to Google Drive. Learn more
View individual messages or conversation threads Arrange by conversation or sender. Scroll to view all messages or conversations (desktop view). Use quick settings to change conversation view. View up to 100 messages or conversations per screen (web view). Learn more
Reply to email On the ribbon, click Reply. In the message, click Reply. For fast replies, use Smart Reply suggestions. Learn more
Respond directly to the content of a previous email In your reply, write, "see my response inline below." Then type into the previous message. Copy text from the previous message into your reply, and apply the quote format. Then enter your response. Learn more
Add shortcuts to settings Customize settings on the ribbon. Add custom keyboard shortcuts for things you do frequently. Learn more

Different names for similar features

Outlook and Gmail sometimes use different names for similar features. Use this table to map the differences.  

Outlook Gmail
Folders Labels
Rules Filters
New Email Compose
Delay Delivery Schedule send
Message Recall Undo Send
Mail merge Mail merge
Encrypt email Confidential mode
Alerts Notifications
Quick parts Email templates
Ignore conversations Mute conversations
Junk Spam
Deleted Items Trash


Collaborate & use other apps with Gmail

Gmail lets you move from one communication stream to another without changing your context.

Task How you do it in Gmail (web)
Work with colleagues using Outlook Use Outlook and Gmail together
Edit an email with colleagues Work together on email content in a Google Doc
Chat with colleagues and share content in Spaces Use Google Chat in Gmail
Make it easier to contact colleagues Add people to your Google Contacts
Start video meetings and make voice calls Use Google Meet in Gmail
Schedule meetings and appointments Use the Google Calendar sidebar in Gmail
Create a task from an email Drag an email to Google Tasks
Create notes from an email Save an email to Google Keep
Take a poll Send a Google Forms survey



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