Microsoft is working on a big redesign for its Outlook for Mac and Windows apps. The software giant revealed teasers for the new design during an Ignite conference session last month, and the goal is to simplify the user interface on both Mac and Windows versions. A lot of the changes look very similar to the Outlook for iOS app, with a single-line ribbon and a smaller set of default commands. Reducing complexity is one of the key aims of the redesign, to make it easier for new and existing Outlook users to navigate the email app.
A new customizable ribbon will let Outlook for Mac and Windows users control which buttons are available, so you can tailor the email interface to your own common tasks. The left navigation panel will include quicker access to folders across multiple accounts, and looks like the switcher in Outlook for iOS.
Microsoft is also focusing a lot of the design changes on Outlook for Mac. The software maker admits “MacBooks are popular amongst key influencers and decision makers,” and that the company “needs to win these users by delivering the best Outlook has to offer.” The overall interface will pick up the same ribbon changes and left navigation panel, but Outlook for Mac will also include improvements to search and calendar. Search will be faster and more reliable, and easier to discover in the top right corner of the app. Calendar will also be improved with fly-outs of information, and a better interface for managing appointments.
While it’s not clear exactly when this design will be made available, Microsoft is already testing internal versions for both Mac and Windows. In the interim, features like sliding on a trackpad to delete messages and the ability to insert tables into emails are coming soon to Outlook for Mac. Expect most of these design and feature changes to be made available to Office 365 subscribers first, and then in Office 2019 updates.