Gmail and Outlook.com are two of the most popular web mail services, and each brings its own benefits to the table. Most people use both email providers either as a primary or secondary account.
Since there is obviously a lot to like about both Gmail and Outlook, it would be useful to compare them based on their individual features and performance.
To answer which is best: Outlook.com or Gmail, we have looked into the following criteria.
1. Ease of Use
Although Gmail has occasional page-loading issues on non-Chrome web browsers, once you’re logged in, it’s smooth sailing from thereon. There are various inbox categories and tabs which help you organize your emails properly.
Gmail allows you to take action on any email directly from the shortcut icons on top. Whether you want to set a label, mute/block a contact, or delete emails in bulk, it only takes one or two clicks. The search bar brings accurate date results based on keywords. It’s very easy to trace older emails, received or sent.
Using Gmail “smart compose” you can save a lot of time thanks to a machine-learning feature which offers suggestions while you type.
Outlook.com, on the other hand, has a slightly retro feel, which does work for me, as I have had an account since the Hotmail days. The compose box is uncluttered, which is a huge plus, but the font styles and effects haven’t kept pace with time.
You can encrypt your emails right from this window, but apart from this, there are no new exciting features.
Compared to Gmail, the Outlook interface is seriously behind the times. You have to manually resize the windows, and it takes longer to mark multiple emails for deletion.
I have thousands of unread emails in the Outlook webmail. With Gmail, it is far easier to get rid of unwanted emails cluttering the inbox.
Result: Gmail is easier to use thanks to its more advanced features and quick responsiveness.
Both Gmail and Outlook have mobile apps that readily sync with Android, iOS and Chrome OS. While Outlook has its own desktop email client, it fails to integrate a personal Hotmail account with Thunderbird.
Gmail, on the other hand, supports Thunderbird properly. In fact, it might be more pleasant to use Gmail on Thunderbird, as the emails are always accessible from a proper desktop client.
Gmail also supports other email clients including Mailbird, Apple Mail and even Windows mail. What’s more, you can also use Alexa speakers to check Gmail. Outlook.com also supports many of these clients, but the lack of convenient access with Thunderbird is a major disadvantage.
Result: Gmail wins this round but by a slight margin only.
3. Desktop Experience
One of the best features of Outlook.com is its desktop client on Windows 10. It is far easier to use than the corresponding webmail or mobile app versions. Many people have been using the Outlook client in their workplace for years.
What’s more, using an Office 365 account, you can connect your Outlook emails to the entire Microsoft suite.
Whether it is editing Word files directly, connecting to your Skype contacts via email, moving the emails to OneDrive, or managing your Office 365 subscription, you get a single window service.
Gmail, on the other hand, does not offer a comparable desktop experience.
Result: Outlook.com has a superior desktop experience.
4. Basic Features
One of the most useful features that is mandatory in a good email service is the calendar. Outlook calendar is far more sophisticated and easy to use with its desktop client. You can set meetings directly and have reminders based on a chosen automatic schedule.
Gmail does have a nice calendar, but accessing it is not very straightforward. Also, it does not support the advanced scheduling capabilities of Outlook.
Outlook has a very useful signature feature which allows you to use colorful templates with watermarks and digital imprints. Creating a professional Gmail signature usually requires an external app such as “Wisestamp” or “Hubspot.” Gmail has sidestepped many such basic features to move directly to an advanced stage.
Result: Outlook.com has better coverage of basic email features.
On a desktop browser, Gmail can be a bit inaccessible at times which can be annoying. Even at the moment of writing, I encountered a “temporary error” while trying to access my regular Gmail account from Mozilla Firefox.
For many Gmail users, this is becoming a regular problem. While they can always access Gmail from their phone apps, it can sometimes be non-responsive inside a desktop browser, especially if you are not using Chrome.
Gmail also denies VPN use and always classifies it as a suspicious activity. Once this happens, you can only log in after you receive a text to your phone, even though you may have removed your phone number from your Google account.
Outlook hardly ever denies you access to your own email account. VPN or no VPN, your Outlook email account is accessible on any desktop device at all times.
Result: Outlook is always more accessible than Gmail and will never leave you locked out of your own account.
6. Design and Appearance
The design of an email window affects your desire to compose emails. Gmail text editor looks a bit unprofessional because it jumps out of nowhere on the screen, which can be distracting. Also, it only covers three-quarters of the window in full-screen mode. If you had to type multiple emails, this arrangement can consume more effort.
Outlook.com, on the other hand, has a simple rich text editor accessible from a side panel which works best for composing emails.
Result: Outlook has a more useful design.
7. Security and Privacy
Both Gmail and Microsoft offer powerful security features. From a privacy standpoint, Microsoft’s policies on data sharing are slightly more transparent and conducive.
What I like about Microsoft is that you can access all the latest statistics about information they have shared with law enforcement. Very little data (5 to 6 percent) is related to the actual contents of emails.
Gmail offers no such statistical overview.
Result: If you value your privacy, you will probably be safer with Outlook than Gmail.
8. Managing Contacts
Opening, editing and deleting Gmail contacts is trickier. It should have been directly accessible from the gearbox in Settings. Instead, you have to first go to the nine-dot icon.
Outlook, on the other hand, has a dedicated “Contacts” icon that opens into a new window. You can easily delete contacts, add phone numbers, import business cards and a lot more.
Result: It is easier to manage contacts on Outlook.
9. Premium Features
Gmail helps you access other Google features from its window including Google Maps, YouTube, Play Store, Google Drive, Translate, Photos and GSuite. While none of them are directly related to email, they provide more functionalities.
You can access multiple delegated Gmail accounts from the same login, add labels and new themes and sync everything on a mobile device. Outlook’s focus is only emails.
Result: Gmail has more advanced features along with basic email.
10. Account Space
While free Gmail accounts are restricted to 15 GB, you can increase the space three to four times by adding new Google accounts. In comparison, an Outlook account comes with 1 TB space thank to the OneDrive support.
Result: Outlook offers more account space.
11. Office 365 vs. GSuite
This is a highly subjective category. Some people are more comfortable in the Microsoft Office ecosystem, whereas others will prefer GSuite apps.
Results: We will consider this round a tie.
While there may be personal reasons to prefer Gmail over Outlook or vice versa, this point-by-point comparison will help you review your choices with a fresh perspective.
Gmail is certainly easier to use, supports more integrations and comes with premium features that cover the entire Google system. However, if you prefer a traditional email setup that supports a better desktop experience while helping you easily manage contacts with stable features, Outlook offers a more robust deal.
Accordingly, based on all the above criteria, Outlook.com is a better email provider than Gmail.