Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 Email Program Pros and Cons

Outlook
image copyright Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Office Outlook shines as an email client that offers solid spam and phishing filters, and seamless integration with to-do lists and scheduling. Using virtual folders and fast search capabilities, it's an effective organization tool, as well.

Outlook's message templates could be more flexible, though, and its smart folders could learn from example.

Pros

  • Outlook comes with solid, effective spam filtering and blocks phishing attempts.
  • Snappy, flexible search, virtual folders, conversations and mail grouping help you organize mail.
  • Outlook integrates email messages, to-do lists, scheduling, and social networking updates well.

Cons

  • Outlook is a bit confusing to set up and use because of its numerous options.
  • You cannot create smart folders, flags, or rules that "learn" by example.
  • Outlook lacks useful message templates.
  • Its RSS feed reader lacks flexibility.

Review

Whatever you want to do with email, chances are Outlook delivers. Here are just a few of its features:

  • Manages multiple POP, IMAP, and Exchange, as well as third-party providers such as Gmail
  • Offers powerful filters and ways to organize, thread, label, and find messages
  • Uses effective junk mail and phishing filters to move unsolicited messages to a junk email folder automatically
  • Offers search folders that automatically corral all items matching certain criteria
  • Searches for any message in any folder or account quickly and thoroughly
  • Supports S/MIME email encryption and IRM access control
  • Can be set up not to download remote images and can display all mail in plain text if desired
  • Allows previewing of attachments right inside messages
  • Treats news items like emails with its integrated RSS feed reader

Spam and phishing filters are easy to use and effectively sort out the junk; you can set the filtering level to control how aggressively these filters work. The program's intelligent use of virtual folders, fast message searching, flagging, grouping, and threading make dealing with even large amounts of good mail a snap. It's easy to set up Quick Steps buttons in the toolbar, for example, that afford one-click access to new messages to oft-mailed recipients, replies, flagging, and more.

The included RSS feed reader lacks sophistication, but it does turn up news items as emails automatically—and typically, that's just right.

The Social Connector delivers social posts and messages and picks up photos and status updates. It includes previous emails exchanged, meetings planned, and attachments received in the mix, too.

Unfortunately, you can't train the junk mail filters—or even the otherwise helpful categories. Outlook also offers no way to apply categories to messages in IMAP accounts (they do work perfectly with Exchange accounts).

Utility and ubiquity aside, Outlook is probably as well known as a target for viruses as it as a personal assistant. In spite—or because—of this history, Outlook 2010 goes to great lengths protecting your privacy and security. Outlook supports S/MIME message encryption, lets you display all mail in super-secure plain text and even sports a custom, more secure (albeit a tad clumsy), HTML message viewer.

Of course, Outlook has powerful filters and can be programmed to do many tasks automatically or expanded to learn new tricks with add-ons. The ability to set up flexible message templates for boilerplate replies isn't included, though.

Email editing works like a charm, with many of the features you appreciate in Word. This, however, can result in large messages showing jumbled text for certain recipients. Plain text is available as a safe alternative to HTML and rich-text formatting to get around this limitation.

All in all, Microsoft Outlook 2010 is a powerful communication and organization tool that does nearly everything you need it to do, and more.