Outlook: Comparing the Outlook Desktop and Web App

Overview: Outlook desktop vs web app

Outlook is a mail client application of the Microsoft Office suite, it can be installed on your computer, or accessed through your internet browser. 

How can I tell what version of Outlook I am using?

There is similarity between both the Outlook desktop app and the web app, such as placement of the left menu is consistent, however the top interface differs as shown below. You will notice that the Outlook web app has more options available.

  • Outlook desktop app is installed on your computer. It can be accessed from your Start menu or from the Taskbar (bottom panel of your screen). The top of the desktop app includes the logo in the upper-left corner and a search bar in the top-middle of the screen.

    Outlook desktop app top of interface includes logo (left corner) and search bar in the top middle of the app
  • Outlook on the web is accessed by signing into your email through an Internet browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. You can access your email from another computer or from home in multiple ways. 
    ​​​​​Outlook web app includes app launcher for online apps, a search bar and quick links to Teams, Notifications, and more

The sample image directly above is the top part of the Outlook web app, you will see the Microsoft 365 app launcher or waffle (left) provides access to open other online apps, a search bar, (middle) and quick links (right) to start a Teams call, open Teams, OneNote feed, open MyDay shows calendar and your tasks, Notifications, access Outlook settings, and access your Microsoft account.

Left Navigation Menu - Both versions of Outlook

Microsoft recently moved the location of the navigation menu in the Outlook desktop app to the top left, same as what you would see if you were logged into Outlook on the web. 

Outlook desktop and web app left navigational menu - comparison

Outlook desktop app - Windows

The desktop client is more robust and has advanced features available. You can also choose the layout of your ribbon from Classic to Simplified, the arrow (bottom right) allows you choose the way the ribbon looks and its display options. Note: You can also right click any named tab and switch your ribbon in the desktop app.

Outlook desktop for Windows 

Current Windows version: Outlook 365 Version 2302 Build 16.0.16130.20806) 32-bit

Outlook desktop Classic Ribbon

Names of tabs, command groups, and icons are visible. 

Outlook desktop app showing the classic Ribbon

Outlook desktop Simplified Ribbon

Names of tabs and command groups are visibly condensed.

Outlook desktop app for Mac

Outlook on Mac


Outlook on the web (accessed in your browser)

The web version of Outlook is accessed a few different ways through browser instead of opening an application. You can also change the layout of your ribbon interface from the corner arrow. Note: You can also change the ribbon layout under the named tab View > Layout > Ribbon.

Classic ribbon: All tab names, command groups their labels, and icons are visible.

Outlook on the web - Layout - Classic Ribbon all tab names, command groups, and icons are visible

Simplified ribbon: The tab names are condensed to save space and provide the most commonly tools, icons for command groups without there labels.

Outlook on the web - Layout - Simplified ribbon

Accessing Outlook

  • svsu.edu > Quicklinks > Email
  • mysvsu.edu > Quicklinks > Outlook (Email)
  • email.svsu.edu
  • outlook.office.com

Note: There are other ways to access Outlook in your browser, click the app launcher (waffle) upper-left of your screen whether you are logged into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, online apps.

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Article ID: 131321
Wed 4/7/21 11:02 AM
Fri 12/8/23 9:55 AM

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