How to decide whether to use Outlook or Outlook Web App

There are two main ways people do their email with Office 365, Outlook and Outlook Web App. So how do you decide which to use? Outlook is the desktop client that has the most features. However, for many organizations and individuals, the web-based Outlook Web App (which is part of Office 365) may meet all your email needs. Others may need the additional features of Outlook.

Outlook Outlook Web App
Use it if:
  • You have Outlook installed on your desktop.
  • You’re on your own computer.
  • You need to see mail from multiple accounts all in one place.
  • You manage someone else’s inbox.
  • You want complete offline access.
  • You need a quick and easy way to do your email, calendar, and contacts from any web-enabled device, including PCs, mobile phones and tablets.
  • You’re using someone else’s computer, or a computer not connected to your office network.
  • You want immediate access to the latest features.
Runs on:
  • Laptop and desktop computers.
  • Surface devices running Windows 8.1.
  • Many mobile phones and devices:
  • iPad: OWA for iPad app.
  • iPhone: OWA for iPhone app.
  • Android and Windows phones and devices: optimized mobile layout.
How to get it:
  • Outlook 2013 comes with some, but not all Office 365 plans.
  • Older versions of Outlook that you already have, such as Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007, also work with Office 365, but Outlook 2013 is recommended.
  • Outlook Web App is available with all Office 365 plans that include email.

To compare the features of Outlook 2013, Outlook Web App, OWA for iPad and OWA for iPhone, Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, and the light version of Outlook Web App, see the detailed feature comparisons.

Detailed feature comparisons

Outlook and Outlook Web App have many features, so we’ve grouped the features to make it easier to compare, and focused on the features that are significantly different. Some Outlook features, such as information rights management, are only available with specific Office 365 plans.

To learn more about a feature in Outlook 2013 or Outlook Web App, click the Yes next to the feature.

General

Access to data

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Access from almost any web browser NA Yes Yes 1 NA NA Yes
Access information while offline Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Low band-width sync Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Access multiple Exchange email accounts Yes Yes 1 No Yes No No
Use favorites folder Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes

1 If you have full access to another mailbox in the shared address book, such as a resource mailbox, you can open it. To access other accounts, you must sign in with the other account credentials. You can also add another person's mailbox to your folder list.

Apps

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Apps available when reading a message Yes Yes Yes No No No
Add/remove apps Yes Yes Yes No No No

Manage mobile devices

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
View and delete devices connected to mailbox No Yes No No No Yes
Initiate remote wipe of phone No Yes No No No Yes
Send calendar rule notification to device Yes No No Yes No No

Search

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Built-in search folders Yes No No Yes Yes No
Can search mail folders Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Can search calendar Yes No No Yes Yes No
Can search contacts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Scope a search Yes Yes1 Yes 1 Yes Yes Yes 1
Tab for setting search context Yes No No Yes No No
Search as you type Yes No No Yes Yes No
Highlight search terms Yes Yes 2 Yes Yes Yes No
Customize search results Yes No No Yes Yes No
Advanced searches Yes Yes3 Yes 3 Yes Yes Yes 3

1 Common search scopes are available.

2 Highlighting includes navigating between search results in a conversation.

3 Advanced searches require use of query terms such as From:name.

Security

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Change user account password No Change password No No No Yes
Require passcode No No Yes 1 No No No
Add to safe/blocked senders list Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Block external content Yes No No Yes Yes No
Encrypted connection Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Read Information Rights Management (IRM)-protected content Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Set IRM properties Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Protected voicemail Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME)— electronic signature and encrypt/decrypt Yes Yes  No Yes Yes No
Anti-phishing and anti-spam technology Yes Yes 2 Yes 2 Yes Yes Yes 2
Certificate management Yes No No Yes Yes No
Receive data loss protection (DLP) Policy Tips Yes 3 No No No No No

1 For some devices (iPhone, iPad), your organization’s administrator may require that you set a passcode.

2 Server only

3 Available with some Office 365 Enterprise plans.

Email

Reading and sending messages

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Read and send email messages Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Message editing tools Yes Partial Limited Yes Yes No
Use inline images Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Paste objects Yes No No Yes Yes No
Specify Reply to address Yes Yes 1 Yes 1 Yes Yes No
Set message format Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Play sound when message arrives Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Warn when missing attachment Yes 2 Yes No No No No
View preview of message Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Turn on/off preview of message Yes Yes No Yes No No
Show and control how reading pane is used Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Send automatic replies (out of office) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Check spelling Yes Yes 3 No Yes Yes Yes 3
Quick steps Yes No No Yes No No
Create delivery receipt request and read request Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Control response to read receipt Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Delivery reports Yes Yes No Yes No No
Reply with a meeting request Yes No No Yes No No
MailTips Yes Yes No Yes No No
Delay or schedule message delivery Yes No No Yes Yes No
Approve a moderated message Yes Yes No Yes Yes No

1 By using “From”.

2 By using a free app.

3 Spell checking is provided by the browser. Spell checking is available in Internet Explorer 10 and Internet Explorer 11, Chrome, and Firefox.

Organizing email

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Conversation view Yes Yes Yes Yes 1 Yes 1 No
Conversation view includes messages from other folders Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Ignore a conversation Yes Yes No Yes No No
Conversation cleanup Yes No No Yes No No
Message archiving Yes Yes No Yes No No
Customizable views Yes Yes2 No Yes Yes No
Access Inbox subfolders Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Create subfolders Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Manage folder permissions Yes Yes No Yes Yes No

1 Each version improves the Conversation view.

2 Limited customizable views.

Other data

Contacts and Address Book

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Store contacts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Manage contacts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Add contact photo Yes No No Yes Yes No
Sync contacts with device address list No No Yes No No Yes 1
Offline Address Book Yes Yes 2 Yes Yes Yes Yes 2
Hierarchical address book Yes No No Yes Yes No
Global Address Book sync and update Yes No No Yes No No
Color categories Yes No No Yes Yes No
Mark as private Yes No No Yes Yes No
Contact cards/electronic business cards Yes No No Yes Yes No
Manage rights on contacts Yes No No Yes Yes No
Share contacts Yes No No Yes Yes No
Import contacts Yes No No Yes Yes No
Export contacts Yes No No Yes Yes No
Outlook quick contacts Yes No No Yes No No
Add/edit personal groups Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
View personal groups Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Create customized contact views Yes No No Yes Yes No
Use Outlook Social Connector Yes No No Yes Yes 3 No
Sync contacts with Facebook No Yes No No No No

1 For iPhone and iPad, contact sync is only available if your organization’s administrator enables it.

2 Limited.

3 Using a plug in.

Meetings and appointments

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Schedule meetings and appointments Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Propose new time for meetings Yes No No Yes Yes No
Calendar preview in invitations Yes No No 1 Yes No No
Paste objects Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Meeting room finder Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Set reminders Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Mark appointment as private Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forward meeting request Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Scheduling assistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

1 User gets a list of conflict meetings in the invite

Calendar

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Day view Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Week view Yes Yes iPad only Yes Yes No
Work week view Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Month view Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Tasks by day view Yes No No Yes Yes No
Schedule view Yes No No Yes No No
Preview months in left pane Yes, 9 months Yes, 7 months Yes, 1 month Yes, 6 months Yes, 3 months No
Print calendar Yes Yes 1 No Yes Yes Yes
Use multiple calendars Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Overlay multiple calendars Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Automatic formatting of calendar items Yes No No Yes Yes No
Adapt to current time zone definition Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Secondary time zone in calendar view Yes No No Yes Yes No
Cached shared calendar Yes No No Yes Yes No
Share calendar (external) Yes Yes iPad only Yes No No
Share calendar (internal) Yes Yes iPad only Yes Yes No
Set sharing level: free/busy details Yes Yes iPad only Yes Yes No
Side-by-side free/busy info Yes Yes No Yes No No
Import/export calendar Yes No No Yes Yes No
Zoom slider for calendar Yes No No Yes No No
Team calendar Yes No No Yes No No
Specify color for calendar Yes Yes iPad only Yes No No
Subscribe to calendar Yes Yes iPad only Yes Yes No
Calendar snapshot Yes No No Yes Yes No
Sync calendar with device Yes No Yes No No No

1 Can’t print the month view.

Tasks

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Edit, view, filter, search, and categorize tasks Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Mark task as complete Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Mark task as private Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Assign a task to another person Yes No No Yes Yes No
Flag mail as task Yes Yes No Yes Yes No

Notes

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Read and forward notes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Create notes and notes folders Yes No No Yes Yes No
Move or categorize notes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Search notes Yes No No Yes Yes No

Faxes

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Send faxes Yes No No Yes Yes No
Receive faxes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Journaling and voting

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Create journal Yes View only No Yes Yes No
Voting buttons Yes No No Yes Yes No

Collaboration tools

Sharing data

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Access public or shared folders Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Access site mailboxes Yes No 1 No No No No
Delegate control Yes No 2 No Yes Yes No
Outlook Social Connector Yes No No Yes Yes 2 No

1 Available through SharePoint site.

2 Available through plug-in only.

Instant messaging

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Integrated chat Yes 1 Yes No Yes 1 Yes 1 No
Integrated presence indicators Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Reply with text message Yes Yes No Yes Yes No

1 Requires use of third party services

Voice mail

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Listen to voice mail using inline player Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Change voice mail options Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Voice mail preview Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Managing and customizing

Data management

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
.pst file support Yes No No Yes Yes No
Import data from other data sources, such as .pst files, database files, other messaging and contact systems, other calendaring applications Yes No No Yes Yes No
Export data Yes No No Yes Yes No
Send to Office OneNote Yes No No Yes Yes No
Add, share, export, import RSS feed Yes No No Yes Yes No

Mailbox management

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Access to POP3 and IMAP email accounts Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
View mailbox quota Yes Yes No Yes No No
Language settings Yes Yes No Yes No Yes
Manage Inbox rules Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Always categorize or move messages Yes No No Yes Yes No
Manage retention policies Yes Yes No Yes No No
Set time zone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

User customizations

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Manage Outlook plug-ins Yes No No Yes Yes No
Customize UI buttons Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Custom forms Yes No No Yes Yes No
Customize navigation pane Yes No No Yes Yes No
Customizable views Yes No No Yes Yes No
Set message options Yes Yes No Yes Yes Limited
Email signature Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multiple email signatures Yes No Yes 1 Yes Yes No
Message tracking options Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Deleted item handling Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Junk email options – create lists of trusted and untrusted addresses and domains Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Calendar layout options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Meeting request processing Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Voice mail settings Yes Yes No No No No
Custom dictionary Yes Yes 2 No Yes Yes No
Infopath integration Yes No No Yes Yes No
Macros/VBA Yes No No Yes Yes No

1 You can have a mobile and non-mobile signature.

2 Depends on the local browser.

Admin customizations

Feature Outlook 2013 Outlook Web App OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone Outlook 2010 SP3 Outlook 2007 SP3 Outlook Web App Light
Admins can enable/disable email features No Yes Yes No Limited Yes
 
 
Applies to:
Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise admin, Office 365 Midsize Business, Office 365 Midsize Business admin, Office 365 Small Business, Office 365 Small Business admin, Outlook 2013, Outlook Web App, Outlook Web App for Office 365 Enterprise, Outlook Web App for Office 365 Small Business, Outlook Web App Light