Gmail vs. Outlook

A question we have received often at Techboomers about Gmail is: "I already use Microsoft Outlook for my email, and it works fine for me; why should I switch to Gmail?"  In the interest of helping you decide, we'll go over the strong points of each email service in comparison to the other.  Then, we'll give you a final verdict.

What is Gmail is better at?

  • Speed -- Generally, Gmail is faster than Outlook when it comes to the speed at which emails are sent and received.

  • Keeping emails available -- Gmail sorts emails with "labels" instead of in folders, so they're still available to you and you don't have to rummage through folders to find a certain email.

  • Organizing and saving space -- Gmail automatically groups emails from the same people about the same subject into "conversations".  This not only makes it easier to find related emails, but it also saves a bit of space in your inbox.

  • Search features -- As Gmail is made by the company behind the Internet's most popular search engine, it has much more advanced parameters with which you can find an email that you're looking for.  Plus, you can turn any search into a filter, so that all emails that you find (and ones that you receive in the future that are like the ones that you find) can have something done to them automatically all at once.  For example, you can apply a certain label to them, or mark them all as having been read.

  • Integration with Google services -- Gmail ties into Google Search and a lot of other Google services, so it's good if you use things like Google Docs, Google Plus, Google Hangouts, and -- of course -- Google Search.

  • Customization -- The "Labs" section of Gmail gives you tons of additional experimental features, like for retracting emails that you've just recently sent or sending emails based on templates.

  • Backups -- Gmail automatically saves drafts of messages that you're working on, so you can come back to them easily if you accidentally close the window or something else happens.

  • Storage space -- Gmail offers 15 GB of memory space (though it's shared between Google Drive and Google Plus).  Outlook says that it offers "unlimited" storage space, but in practical terms, it only offers about 5 GB of memory space (which is shared with OneDrive).  However, you can purchase additional memory space for both services.

What is Outlook better at?

  • Less cluttered layout -- Compared to Gmail, Outlook's interface is simpler and cleaner.  Less information is available right on the screen, but at least it isn't in your way.

  • Integration with Microsoft services -- Outlook connects with a lot of Microsoft services, such as Skype, Microsoft Live, and OneDrive.

  • Extension of Microsoft Office -- Outlook allows you to edit Microsoft Office documents sent as attachments right in your inbox, even if you don't have Microsoft Office installed.

  • More easily access emails offline -- Outlook offers easier connectivity to your emails offline if you have the desktop application installed.  Gmail can do this too, but you need Google's Chrome browser and a specific add-on program for it.

  • Less intrusive advertising -- Outlook allows you to opt out of targeted ads; Gmail does not.

  • Better integration with social media -- Outlook allows you to connect with and import your contacts from common social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter.  Gmail only allows this for Google Plus and certain other email services.

  • Easier-to-use function for important emails -- Outlook's "flagging" system for remembering important emails is more functional than Gmail's "starring" system, as it allows you to do things such as set reminders for an event or having to reply to an email.

The final verdict

Overall, we feel that Gmail has a slight edge over Outlook.  It has more storage space for all of your emails and attachments, and has better search and backup features that make emails easy to find and difficult to lose.  In addition, Gmail has an organization scheme that keeps your emails accessible while still not taking up too much space, and it has tons of useful custom features that allow it to work just the way you want it to.  Many say that Gmail is also slightly faster than Outlook in sending or receiving emails.

That by no means is to say that Outlook is a bad email client.  Its interface is easier to use than Gmail's (and isn't as cluttered with targeted advertisements), and its desktop program makes it much easier to access your email offline than with Gmail.  It is also better at connecting with common social media websites than Gmail is, and it has better features for keeping track of important emails.

Overall, Outlook seems more like a no-nonsense, all-in-one business tool when compared to Gmail.  Gmail, on the other hand, seems focused on making a pure email program that strikes the best balance between being as efficient as possible while still being functional and easy to use.  So, our advice is to use the service that has more of what you want for your purposes.  If Outlook does something that you wish it didn't, or doesn't do something that you wish it did, try out Gmail.  It may just have the features that you're looking for.

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