How to Make Gmail Look Like Outlook - 2016 Edition

by Denise Hazime on March 3, 2016


Converting users over from Microsoft Office to Google Apps for Work has one major impediment for adoption: users are used to the look and feel of Outlook who will ask you “How do I make Gmail look like Outlook?” While Gmail is radically different, and better in a number of ways, there are ways to make Gmail look, feel and act like Outlook if you have users in your organization that are resisting the change.

Step 1: Organize Inbox Into Categories

To start, enable categories to organize your inbox. To do this, go to Settings, then Inbox, as below.

This unlocks one of Gmail’s big advantages: the “Primary” inbox. Only important emails end up here, especially when you apply filters to them later. Social will be your social media updates, promotions will be emails just a step above spam that you want to see from your favourite companies, and updates will be random notifications from programs. Forums is really only useful for forum subscribers, but if you are a member of a forum your emails will end up here. You may have to apply a filter to have email from particular senders end up in “Primary” if emails are getting shunted to the wrong tab, but this is not a normal occurrence and can be fixed easily if it does happen. This takes care of organizing most of your email.

Step 2: Enable Labels

Once you’ve enabled your preferred categories, you can create the folders you love on the right hand side by enabling labels, which you do by going to Settings and hitting “Labels”. Scroll down to “Labels”, and hit “Create New Label”. You may want to do this by project, company, and more. With Gmail, you can apply multiple labels to any one email, so an email from a specific client about a specific project can automatically be placed in both “folders” with a proper filter.

Step 3: Enable the Preview Pane in Labs

Go to settings by hitting the Gear icon at the top left. Choose the “Labs” pane. Search for Preview Pane until you see the below selection:

Hit “Enable” and “Save Changes”. You will then have the preview mode that Outlook users are used to. You can toggle it on and off and choose between a vertical or horizontal split by hitting this button at the top left:

See additional information on transitioning your Outlook users to Gmail in our older post on the subject, and contact UpCurve Cloud if you are thinking about making the switch to Google Apps for Work.

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PRODUCT: G Suite by Google Cloud