For the last four months I’ve made it a point of using both Gmail and Outlook, equally, for my business mail. I did this to study the differences in their current versions. I wanted to do this updated evaluation because a lot has changed in each product over the years, especially recently.
I admit I’ve been a bit biased. I’ve been an Outlook user for decades and dismissed Gmail years ago (when in beta) as being merely a good free web mail app, but not a serious business tool. Because of that, all my books and courses have mostly been about Outlook.
But that has changed. With Gmail’s recent redesigns, I now find the two apps, on balance, nearly equivalent for serious business email management. Each has advantages and disadvantages, however, and those will definitely influence your choice.
Preliminary App Definitions
Before I present my conclusions, let’s get these preliminary “definitions” out of the way.
- When I say Gmail, I mean Gmail as used with its web interface. Google no longer has a desktop app, and I did not look at third-party front-end desktop tools for Gmail.
- When I say Outlook, I mean Outlook as used with Outlook.com or with Exchange/Microsoft 365 as the mail server. So, I did not evaluate Outlook desktop used with, say, a Yahoo email address. Outlook desktop always works better with Microsoft mail servers.
- I am not addressing the huge ecosystem implications behind these two applications. So, I am not evaluating if Microsoft 365 applications are in general better than the G-Suite set. And I am not addressing the differences in corporate philosophies or in customer support. That’s a whole other discussion.
Here is a bullet list of my conclusions; details on each of these bullet points will follow in future articles.
As you’ll see in this list, I find it’s a bit of a wash now, with each platform ahead and behind in different ways.
- I like Windows Outlook Desktop better than Gmail web. Outlook desktop is faster to navigate, faster to clean the inbox, and has many more mail processing tools. So if, for example, you use my Outlook Ninja system, the Windows Outlook desktop system is the best way to go for rapid inbox processing.
- That said, I like Gmail’s web interface much better than Outlook Online; Gmail web has more tools and it has a better layout compared to Outlook’s web interface.
- I like the Gmail smartphone apps much better than Outlook’s, mainly because of two key features: You can apply labels (categories) to mail on the Gmail smartphone app, (but not on the Outlook smartphone app). And on the Android version of Gmail’s phone app, you can convert emails into tasks. These two features are critical to me.
- I find the Microsoft To-Do app (Microsoft’s new tasks system) to be a bit better than Google Tasks, particularly for use with my 1MTD productivity system. But both can work.
- If you use my more powerful MYN productivity system, then the Windows Outlook Desktop Tasks system is the way to go. That desktop-based task module is one of the most powerful task modules on the market, hands down. The Google Tasks system isn’t even close in regard to having such a powerful feature set.
While overall, the apps pros and cons roughly balance, it is gratifying to me to see Gmail has become so useful and mature in its feature sets these days. Frankly, I think Microsoft needs the competition. And in the Smartphone arena, it’s especially good to see Gmail’s strong support for labels (categories) and conversion of emails to tasks. Given how much I use my smartphone for email, this alone is one reason to favor the Gmail approach.
Upcoming Gmail Courses
Because of this near equivalence (and Gmail’s growing business penetration), I am starting to develop video courses for Gmail. The first is a course on using Google Tasks with my 1MTD system. I should be releasing this video course in about one month, so watch my newsletter announcements.
And I’ll be issuing more detailed comparison articles on these two apps, ones that drill down on my bullet points above, in upcoming newsletters.