Using Outlook with Google Gmail

I wanted to take a moment to write a short post on using Outlook with Google Gmail. I was motivated to write this post after receiving many negative responses from organizations that chose to migrate to Gmail from their Microsoft Exchange server. I use Gmail for personal email and Exchange for corporate/professional email. As an organization, we’ve considered migrating to Office 365 but chose to stay on our internal server because of numerous integrations with business applications.

Many organizations have moved to Gmail for their corporate email. Thousands of organizations have done this successfully. I’m no critic of the platform or the choice to use it, as I think every organization should pick the right solution for its particular needs. Gmail is an excellent email application and I’ve come to appreciate Google’s approach to email management.

When organizations decide to replace the licensing and IT costs associated with Microsoft Exchange, Gmail is a natural option. However, it is important to understand that Gmail is not Exchange (and is not trying to be), but in the nature of being different there are a couple of critical things that Gmail can’t replace; namely Microsoft Outlook. Of the half-dozen organizations I’ve spoken to, not one of them was aware of the limitations of using Microsoft Outlook with Gmail. So, I want to make sure everyone understands this:

Microsoft Outlook will NOT work the same with Gmail as it does with Microsoft Exchange. Here is a short, yet important list to consider:

Outlook is just another email app with Gmail – synching, offline mode, and other integrations with Exchange don’t function in the same way. Outlook can, however, be configured to keep a copy of email in Gmail.

Group calendars in Outlook do not work. If you use group calendars (also referred to as public calendars), you can create those in Gmail, but they won’t be accessible in Outlook.

You will be unable to view calendars of other users in Outlook. One of my favorite features in Outlook has been the ability to view availability of people and resources for scheduling a meeting. If you need to do this with Gmail, use Gmail, because you can’t use Outlook.

If you are making the switch to Gmail, my recommendation is that you migrate away from Outlook. Use Gmail in Google’s Chrome browser–in the way many of us did when we went all-in with Microsoft. Honestly, I think using Gmail in the way it is intended to be used will provide a more successful outcome.