How to Set Up Outlook in Windows

Everything you need to get started.
Ash Ash (311)
Total time: 5 minutes 

Microsoft's Outlook has been a part of the Office line up since 1997. After 20 years, it's become a well-established email management staple. Outlook is compatible with both Windows 10 and macOS. Setting up Outlook shouldn't take long, but it will help if you have your existing email account information on hand.

Outlook vs Mail

This guide covers the setup process for Outlook—not to be confused with the Windows 10 Mail application. Mail comes preinstalled with Windows 10 and provides a few basic email functions. Outlook is part of the Microsoft Office suite, offering more tools and professional features for email management. While Mail lets you read and reply to messages, Outlook provides additional tools like archiving and digital signatures.

Note: This guide covers the setup process for Windows, Mac users can go here instead.

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Outlook can be purchased independently or bundled with Office 365. If you purchase a single license for Outlook, it can only be applied to one machine but you own the license for good. Office 365 is a subscription-based service that provides access to more Office applications like PowerPoint and Excel.

Add Email To Outlook

This process will be a little different if you're using an older version of Outlook. This step applies to Outlook 2016 and higher. If you're using an older edition, visit this Microsoft support page for help.

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Go to File > Add Account
  3. When prompted, enter the email address of the account you want to add.
  4. Click Connect. You will be prompted to enter your password.
  5. Confirm your account password.
  6. Click OK and Finish.
Manage Outlook Profiles

Once your account has been added to Outlook, you may need to change it. Outlook makes it easy to access your account information and manage profiles.

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Select File.
  3. At the top of the File menu is a drop-down list. Choose the email address you want to make changes to or choose Add Account to add a new profile.
  4. Under this drop-down is another one titled Account Settings. This menu provides all of the options for managing your account and profiles within Outlook.
Manage Outlook Inbox

Now that you're set up in Outlook, here are a few tips for managing your inbox.

  • Automatically sort emails using custom Outlook rules.
  • Experiment with the layout. For example, you can move the Reading Pane to another part of the screen. It may take time to optimize your workflow.
  • Take advantage of the To-Do Bar to monitor your Calendar tasks.
  • Archive emails with server-side or locally stored folders (more on this below).
  • Adjust your notification settings and choose how often the inbox is refreshed.
Archive Email Outlook

Sorting emails into folders is critical to maintaining a clean inbox. If your email account has a policy to remove old emails, you may want to archive them locally onto your hard drive. In Outlook, this is accomplished using PST files.

How to create a PST file

  1. Open your Inbox in Outlook.
  2. Choose New Items in the top-left.
  3. Go to More Items > Outlook Data File.
  4. Enter a name for the PST file.
  5. Optional step: Choose Add Optional Password and click OK. Confirm the password you want to use when accessing the archive. You do not have to set a password on the archive if you do not want one.
  6. Click OK.

Note: If you create a PST file with a password, you will be unable to recover the archived emails without it.

At this point, you should be set up and ready to go with Outlook on your machine. Congratulations! If you're working from home, you may want to check out our guide on enabling remote access for Windows 10.