iPhone for the Windows Guy: Use Your Microsoft Accounts

Posted on December 28, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in iOS with 0

iPhone for the Windows Guy: Use Your Microsoft Accounts

You’ve adopted an iPhone, but your contacts, email, and calendaring information are tied up in your Outlook.com or Office 365 account. No worries, you can access it all from iPhone, and even make sure that your phone calls and text messages correctly identify who’s reaching out to you.

The best news? You can make this work no matter which apps you choose to use to manage your contacts, email and calendar.

The first step is to choose which apps you wish to use to manage your Microsoft-hosted (e.g. Outlook.com or Office 365) contacts, email and calendar. I’ll look at the two most obvious (and arguably best) options: The built-in apps that Apple provides with iPhone—Contacts/Phone, Mail, and Calendar/Reminders, respectively—and Microsoft Outlook, which may be more familiar for a Windows user.

Apple’s apps

If you’re going to stick with Apple’s apps, life is simple enough: Navigate to Settings and then Mail, Contacts, Calendars on your iPhone and then tap Add Account.


Next, choose Outlook.com or, if you have an Office 365 business account, Exchange. As prompted, provide your email address, password, and optionally rename the account using the Description field. Then, determine which items will sync to your phone: Mail, contacts, calendars, and/or reminders.

Note: If you’re using two-factor authentication with your Microsoft account, your normal password won’t work. Instead, you will need to generate an app password. You do this from the Security Settings page on the Microsoft Account web site.


And that’s it. You can use the relevant Apple apps to manage your contacts, email and calendar, and when someone calls or texts you, they will be correctly identified in the Phone and Messages apps as expected. Likewise, when you make a new call or send a new message, you can search for contacts from your Microsoft-based account.

Microsoft Outlook

If you would rather stick with Microsoft Outlook, you just have one additional step to perform.

First, download and install Microsoft Outlook. Then, sign-in with your Outlook.com or Office 365 account. You will now be able to access your contacts, email, and calendar from within this one app. It’s pretty sweet.

There’s just one problem: Simply signing in to Microsoft Outlook does not provide contact information to the Phone and Messaging apps. So when people call or text you—or you try to do the same—no one from your contacts list shows up. So incoming phone calls and text messages are identified only by their phone number.

The reason is simple: Phone and Messaging do not integrate with Microsoft Outlook. As far as these apps are concerned, you have no contacts.


To fix this, use the steps above to configure your Outlook.com or Office 365 account again, but this time using the Settings app instead of Outlook. The goal is to sync your contacts with the phone, but since you are not using the Mail or Calendar/Reminders apps, you should disable the syncing of mail, calendars, and reminders. You only want to sync contacts.


Now, Phone and Messaging can still access your contact list, so your contacts are accurately identified. And you can still use Microsoft Outlook to manage your contacts, email and calendaring items.




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