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Outlook vs. Gmail: Which email platform should you use? [2024]

By Shea Stevens · January 30, 2024
Hero image with the Outlook and Gmail logos

Many folks are as fiercely loyal to their chosen email platform as they are to their sports team. That makes the world pretty divided on Outlook and Gmail, so I decided to get to the bottom of the Outlook vs. Gmail debate. 

I'm a Gmail user, but I created new accounts on each platform to test them for myself. Here's what I found.

Outlook vs. Gmail at a glance

  • Outlook: Best for Office 365 users who prefer enhanced organization and want as much free storage as possible. 

  • Gmail: Best for Google Workspace users looking for advanced spam protection and a simple interface.




⭐⭐⭐⭐ Outlook integrates with Microsoft Office 365; limited number of add-ins available

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Gmail integrates with Google Workspace; thousands of add-ons available

Interface and ease of use

⭐⭐⭐ Free plan has a cluttered interface with distracting ads; easy to send emails, but the search feature makes it difficult to find past emails in the inbox

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Intuitive, modern look with ads nicely tucked away under separate tabs; Smart Compose makes it easy to craft emails, while the search feature makes it easy to find past emails in the inbox


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 15 GB of free storage for Outlook

⭐⭐⭐ 15 GB of free storage shared across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos 


⭐⭐⭐⭐ Two-factor authentication, encryption, spam filters, safelinks, confidential mode, and more

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Two-factor authentication, encryption, robust spam filters, safe browsing, confidential mode, and more


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Uses Folders and Categories to organize inbox

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Uses Labels to organize inbox

Mobile experience

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A well-rounded mobile app that mirrors the online platform's functionalities (mail, calendar, apps)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A robust mobile app that's easy to navigate with specific Gmail features (mail, chat, meetings)


⭐⭐⭐ Free for personal use (including email, calendar, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint); 

Personal plans for up to six users with more tools, storage, and features, starting at $19.99/year for Microsoft Basic;

Business plans with premium apps starting at $6/user/month for Microsoft 365 Business Basic

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Free for individual use; business plans for Google Workspace (including Docs, Slides, Forms, etc.) starting at $6/user/month for Business Starter

AI features

⭐⭐ Text Predictions; Microsoft Copilot writing assistance (summarizing, drafting, and coaching)

⭐⭐⭐ Smart Compose and Smart Reply; Google Duet writing assistance (drafting, writing, and proofreading)

If you like Microsoft, use Outlook; if you like Google, use Gmail

Outlook and Gmail are both robust email apps, so there are some things that won't tip the scales. The mobile apps feel similar in their user experience and interface layouts—both provide access to a measure of (limited) interface customization and offer paid business plans with comparable pricing, though Gmail is slightly cheaper at some levels. 

Both platforms offer many features that are more-or-less the same, like snooze, which allows you to postpone email notifications to a specific time and tools that allow you to schedule emails to be sent at a future date and time. Both platforms also have message reminders (called nudges in Gmail) that remind you to follow up or reply to emails, as well as helpful templates that come in handy when crafting emails.

Outlook and Gmail both integrate with their respective suites—Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace. Whether you're an individual or an organization, integration is going to play the biggest role in which platform you prefer. Both platforms are robust, really well-developed apps that, unless you're looking for one specific feature (like labels on Gmail or folders on Outlook), it's hard to say one's better than another. It's like comparing a PC to a Mac.

Each platform also has its own respective extensions, which can give you access to additional features and capabilities that boost productivity or enhance your workflow. (Gmail refers to these as add-ons, while Outlook refers to theirs as add-ins.) Gmail has thousands of add-ons available in the Chrome Web Store—offering significantly more than Outlook. 

If you're overwhelmed by the number of add-ons available, check out this list of the 11 most powerful Gmail add-ons and extensions

Gmail's ads are less intrusive on the free personal plan, while Outlook offers more free storage

While the look and feel of an app can be pretty subjective, I found the Gmail interface to be more intuitive. It's easy to navigate and has a modern look, while Outlook feels a bit cluttered. 

One thing I noticed when logging into my Outlook account was the extremely large and distracting ads on the right-hand side.

Screenshot of Outlook interface with distracting ad on the right side.

While I understand that both platforms need to advertise in order to continue to offer free versions (I'm a marketer after all), Gmail's ads are nicely tucked away in the Promotions and Social tabs. Since I rarely ever click on those tabs anyway, I almost never see the ads in the first place.

Screenshot of Gmail's "promotions" tab.

All in all, I prefer the Gmail interface over Outlook's, with the ads being a determining factor.

Another aspect to consider when comparing these free plans is storage space. While both Outlook and Gmail offer 15GB of storage space, it's important to note that Gmail shares its storage space with Google Drive and Google Photos. So, if you frequently use other apps in Google Workspace, you may hit your storage limit faster than you would with Outlook.

If you've hit your Google account storage limit, there are simple ways to free up space

Gmail makes it easier to search emails in the inbox

It's no surprise that Gmail's search bar works quite well, and you can even filter your search to only emails sent from you, emails with attachments, or emails sent or received in the last seven days. You can also create a custom filter to narrow your search even further. 

Screenshot of Gmail's search filter.

While researching Outlook on social media, their search feature was one of the most frequent complaints I saw, with many users mentioning it returning irrelevant results. I noticed the difference, for sure, but it does offer similar search filters as Gmail—making it possible to find the exact email you're looking for (even if it takes a little longer).

Screenshot of Outlook's search filter.

Outlook organizes emails in folders, while Gmail uses labels

Outlook uses folders and categories to help users organize their inboxes. For example, if you work with multiple clients, you could create a folder for each client to help you stay organized. If that's not enough, you could add another layer and create different categories for each project you're working on—like I did in the example below. 

Screenshot of Outlook's categories feature.

Overall, I found Outlook folders and categories to be very intuitive, and I can definitely see why users like them. 

On the other hand, Gmail uses a Labels feature for organization, but you can use Labels as both folders and labels. 

Screenshot of Gmail inbox with certain emails labeled as "Zapier."

As you can see in the screenshot above, when I create a "Zapier" label, it labels the email in my inbox and puts those emails under the "Zapier" label tab. So, if I'm looking to only read Zapier-related emails, all I have to do is click the Zapier label to view them (see what I mean about labels doubling as folders?). 

You can also nest a label under a different label. For example, an email from Zapier regarding this blog could be labeled "Outlook vs. Gmail" and nested under the parent "Zapier" label. You might find this feature to be less than helpful since you have to manually label each email you receive, but you can set up a filter to automatically label certain types of emails if you want.

Just like how some people hang their jeans in the closet and others fold them in a dresser (or, if you're like me, just throw them on a chair), everyone has their own methods to the madness when it comes to organization, so it's really about personal preference here.

It's a tie in the email AI race, with no signs of evil robots yet

The Outlook vs. Gmail AI race is a very competitive, very close race.

Gmail leverages a feature called Smart Compose that gives you suggestions on how to craft the email. You can either click one of the reply options it gives you, or begin typing, and the Smart Compose feature will offer suggestions as you go. I found this feature to be pretty spot on with their suggestions, and I can usually craft a reply simply by going with Gmail's recommendations. 

Screenshot of Gmail's Smart Compose feature finishing a sentence.

Outlook has a similar tool called Text Predictions, but I found it mostly just completes words that I already started to type instead of suggesting the next couple words like Gmail's feature does. 

Screenshot of Outlook's Text Predictions tool predicting the rest of a word.

Google has a leg up in a few other spots too:

  • Its tabbed inbox leverages machine learning to decide where each email goes, whether it's an important message that needs to be displayed in the Primary inbox tab or it should be dumped under Promotional or Social.  

  • Gmail uses robust AI-driven spam filters to block phishing and malware. As a Gmail user, I can report that I receive little to no spam in my inbox. While I haven't been an Outlook user long enough to speak from my own experience, many Reddit threads discuss spam frequently reaching users' inboxes.

  • Gmail's summary cards draw out useful information from long emails. For example, if you receive a flight confirmation email, Gmail will automatically generate a summary card that notes the times, dates, flight numbers, and gates.

But as AI becomes more and more common, Microsoft Copilot is coming to your inbox. I wasn't able to test it because it's only available to enterprise accounts, but it's built to summarize, draft, and coach, providing feedback based on each email draft you write. It addresses tone, reader sentiment, and clarity.

Google's Duet, on the other hand, seems to shine at drafting, writing, and proofreading written content. Copilot is a bit ahead of the game as of now, but I imagine it'll continue to be a pretty close race. And even better: I can confidently confirm that this is a non-Terminator AI situation. 

Both apps integrate with Zapier

Email is best when it takes up the least amount of time possible. Outlook and Gmail both connect to Zapier, which means you can automate them and connect them to thousands of other apps you use for work.

Automate Outlook

When you connect Outlook to Zapier, you can take the manual work out of lead nurture, notifications, and contact management. Learn more about how to automate Outlook email, or try one of these pre-built workflows.

Dispatch emails in Microsoft Outlook with new leads in Facebook Lead Ads

Dispatch emails in Microsoft Outlook with new leads in Facebook Lead Ads
  • Facebook Lead Ads logo
  • Microsoft Outlook logo
Facebook Lead Ads + Microsoft Outlook

Automate Gmail

You can also connect Gmail to Zapier to automate your email, so you can automatically save email attachments, send notifications straight from your inbox, and follow up with new leads faster. Read more about how to automate Gmail, or try one of these workflows to get started.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

Outlook vs. Gmail: Which is best for you?

The most important factor in your decision is going to be whether you live and breathe Google or Microsoft. I collaborate with my coworkers in Docs and am constantly making fun lists in Sheets with my friends. Since Google Workspace is basically my second home, I'll be sticking with Gmail. 


This article was originally published in October 2019 by Marshall Gunnell. The most recent update, with contributions from Hachem Ramki, was in January 2024.

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'