If you are going to use Outlook 2007 as an email program, and you’re not connected to a corporate Microsoft Exchange server, you’ll need to connect Outlook to a Web-based email account. Lots of big companies, like Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google offer free web-based email accounts, as do hundreds of smaller companies. But not all free accounts are suitable for use with Outlook. The top choice for most people is to connect Outlook to a free Gmail account from Google. Once you have a Gmail account, it only takes moments to configure the Gmail Outlook connection. This allows you to use Outlook to read messages sent to your Gmail account. It also allows you to send messages from Outlook using your Gmail account.

Why should you choose Gmail? Well, there are lots of other free email accounts out there, for example Yahoo! Mail & Hotmail. But connecting them to Outlook for free is another story. Some Web-based email accounts are set up so you can view them using your Web browser, but they’re set up to prevent you from connecting to them with programs like Outlook. Other email accounts (Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail, for example) allow you to connect to them with Outlook, but they charge you a fee for the privilege. Their free versions won’t help you at all. There’s only a small number of Web-based email accounts that allow you to connect Outlook for free. Google’s Gmail is the biggest and best of this select group.

With Gmail, you get a massive amount of space (measured in Gb) of mail storage right on Google’s servers. It also provides powerful search capabilities (basically doing a Google search on your own email). Google supports the Gmail service with advertising, but you only see the ads when you use your Gmail account with your web browser, not when you use Outlook. This is definitely the free email service you want to use to connect to Outlook.

The steps required to make the Gmail Outlook connection are moderately difficult, but most people can make the connection on their own especially if they have access to someone more experienced should they get stuck. If you want to try setting up a Gmail account & connecting it to Outlook 2007, the instructions are posted here.

Configuring Gmail and Outlook to work together is just one of the topics covered in the first lesson of the 6-week online course, Introduction to Outlook 2007. If strengthening your skills with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 makes sense to you in these uncertain economic times, and you like the idea of a structured class with the ability to interact with your instructor, I suggest you visit IntroToOutlook2007.info to learn more.

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