Outlook for Mac for Office 365: Task Users should Skip it for Now

May 16, 2015

Last November (2014), Microsoft released a new Mac version of Outlook—one that replaces Outlook 2011 for Mac. While some people are calling this Outlook 2015, or Outlook 15, Microsoft is simply calling it Outlook for Mac, and it is only available to Office 365 subscribers.

We had put off looking at it since we rarely use Macs anymore and none of our clients were asking us about it. But recently we have been getting a few questions asking for guidance, so we downloaded it (through our Office 365 subscription) and took a quick look today.

MYN/1MTD Recommendation: Don’t Uprade if Using Tasks

To cut to the chase, if you are an MYN or 1MTD user and using tasks in Outlook 2011, don’t upgrade yet. The reason is Microsoft has for some reason removed the Scripts menu, so there is now no easy way to convert emails to tasks using a script. Converting e-mail to tasks is a crucial part of MYN/1MTD, and in Outlook 2011 for Mac an added AppleScript was the only way to do it quickly. In this newer version, there is NO way to do it quickly—the only way we see to do this now is to copy and paste the contents of an e-mail into a manually-created new task (ugh!).

That said, there may be a workaround. In the comments section of the article cited below, some people say they have figured out hack-like ways to make some scripts work. But they don’t cite the convert-to-task script, and in any case, we’re not going to recommend our users jump through hoops like that (unless you really want to, but you are on your own).

And perhaps Microsoft will add the Script menu back in, in later releases of the product.

Also, the same limit in task subsorting that was in Outlook 2011 still exists in this new version, so MYN users are still forced to create smart folders to group by priority and subsort on date. That was never a good solution.

So for now, if you must use tasks in Outlook on a Mac, stick with Outlook 2011 for Mac. That’s what ships currently anyway if you install Office 365 on a Mac. To find the newer Outlook for Mac version you have to make a special effort. And you cannot buy a boxed or separately licensed version of the newer version. It’s almost as if Microsoft is treating this like a beta, while awaiting the new version of Office for Mac to be released (likely this fall).

Because of all these limitations, Outlook 2011 for Mac is still the only Mac version of Outlook that we have  documented for use with MYN or 1MTD. See the 4th Edition of the book Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook for that documentation.

Not using Outlook Tasks? Go Ahead and Upgrade

All that said, perhaps you don’t use tasks in Outlook 2011? As an MYN or 1MTD user, perhaps you are using Toodledo for tasks (as we recommend), and only using Outlook 2011 for everything else: Mail, Calendar, and People. If so, the script omission is no big deal, and in that case then sure, go ahead and upgrade to this new Outlook version. There are no huge feature improvements—the software looks and behaves much like Outlook 2011 for Mac. But a lot of behind the scene improvements have been made that reportedly make it faster and more reliable. So an upgrade may be worthwhile to you.

Note though, support for Exchange 2007 has been dropped. And you need a new-ish version of the Mac OS to make it run (OS X 10.9.4 or later). There are other caveats as well; see the article below for more details.

Good Article on the new Outlook for Mac

To learn more, take a look at this linked article. It discusses the new Outlook for Mac version including new features, system requirements, and the missing scripts menu: http://www.officeformachelp.com/2014/11/microsoft-revamps-features-for-outlook-for-mac-15/


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11 Responses to Outlook for Mac for Office 365: Task Users should Skip it for Now

  1. Martin Whittlesey says:

    My company recently adopted Microsoft CRM. I am not a fan, primarily because I must be online to use it. We are a mfg/sales organization (www.tennantco.com). My projects (sales opportunities) are generally sales with a long cycle to close. I’m wondering about utilizing Microsoft Priject, but feel I shouldn’t have to if I use CRM. What do you think of CRM vs Microsoft Project?

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      Martin: CRM vs Microsoft Project… it really seems they are two completely different products with completely different goals and outcomes. I’ve use Project extensively, and it’s definitely just for project mgt. (and it has a steep learning curve to use it right). Have not used Microsoft’s CRM, but have used other CRMs for sales and customer management, and if that is what you need to accomplish (sales and customer management) I’d think a CRM tool should be your choice, not a PM tool. I used a CRM tool called Avidian Prophet, which plugs into Outlook, and I liked it a lot. Michael

  2. Garry George says:

    Everyone talks about downloading Apple Scripts and adding them to the library, but I cannot find any Apple Scripts online, and the ones I had downloaded previously are gone, and their websites are no longer available. Any links to Applescripts for OFFICE FOR MAC 2011?

  3. Dirk Schulze-Bahr says:

    Hello Michael,

    there is a solution to get the applescripts back to work with Outlook for Mac 15. It does only copy text but best solution for the time being. It should not be a big deal to adapt the script to get better results.


    Keep up your great work!


    • Dirk Schulze-Bahr says:

      Update: It transfers text formats as well. The work around for quickly finding the email is Spotlight search.

      • Michael Linenberger says:

        Thanks Dirk, glad to hear this worked for you. I was aware of that workaround being out there, and I think I mentioned it somewhere in a blog, but I did not hear of anyone who applied it to the Email-to-task script and had it work, so your comment is timely. All that said, we are a bit reluctant to advertise it as *our* recommendation since it apparently bypasses a security intent of Apple (we don’t want that kind of karma!). But maybe not, maybe Apple removing/blocking the Scripts menu from Outlook-Mac is just an oversight. Thanks again! Michael

      • Aravindh says:

        The link doesn’t work anymore.
        For a second I thought may be the new Microsoft is all better. But same old “Works sometimes in some platforms – but hey, why did you think you can count on me?” 🙁

  4. Can you guys please go to the link below and vote for Microsoft to allow you to convert emails into tasks like you can on the Windows version. I really, really want to switch to Mac but can’t until this is doable.


  5. Dirk says:

    Hi Michael,

    Are you aware of a bug in Outlook 2016 that break filters? If you set the “start date” filter to “last 9000 days” tasks with start day “today” are not shown anymore. This is valid for the German version of click2run Outlook client.



  6. Eva Grant says:

    Thanks for the insightful article. It indeed points out some significant issues with Outlook for Mac for Office 365. While some users might be disappointed with these challenges, I believe companies like Kelly Office Solutions can play a critical role in such scenarios. They offer a variety of technology solutions and could provide alternative office software options that better fit a business’s needs. Additionally, they might also be able to assist users with troubleshooting and optimizing their current setups, potentially alleviating some of the difficulties associated with Outlook for Mac.

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