First Steps: Use Your Microsoft Account on Your Mac

Posted on January 15, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, Microsoft Consumer Services, Office, Office 365, OneDrive,, Skype with 39 Comments

First Steps: Use Your Microsoft Account on Your Mac

While you can easily configure and use your Microsoft account on Windows, Android, and iOS, the Mac requires a bit more work.

Note: This article has been extensively updated with the help of several people who assisted via the comments below. Thanks! –Paul

Use your Microsoft account with Apple Mail, Contacts, and Calendar

If you want to use the in-box Mail, Contacts, and Calendar apps with your Microsoft account— or similar—you may need to do a bit of extra configuration work. I certainly did, though it appears this may vary by account, perhaps due to the security settings you’ve configured.

But I now know this does work:

Open System Preferences and navigate to Internet accounts.

Then, select Exchange from the list on the right.

This is where you must throw logic to the wind. Instead of entering your actual Microsoft account email address and password as prompted, enter fake values for both. (The email address field must be formatted like an email address, with an @ character and so on.) When you click Sign In, you will see this new dialog after a short pause.

Enter the following:

Email Address. The email address of your Microsoft account.

User Name. The email address of your Microsoft account. (Yes, this should exactly match the previous field.)

Password. The password for your Microsoft account. If you configured two-step verification, and you did, generate an app password on the Microsoft account website and enter that instead.

Internal URL and External URL. Both of these should be set to 

Click Sign In and … voila! You can choose which apps—Mail, Contacts, and Calendar, but also Reminders and Notes—to use with your Microsoft account.

Use the on the web

I realize this is beyond obvious, but Mac users can of course use the web client for email, contacts, and calendar management. As it turns out, I happen to prefer web clients over native apps for the most part, and this is what I use with Windows 10 every day. Using the web client will give you a nice Microsoft experience, but the only downside on Mac is that you can’t use Chrome to create pseudo-desktop apps from web apps—each with its own window and no browser UI—as you can on Windows.

Use the Office 2016 desktop applications

If you’re an Office 365 Personal or Home subscriber or have purchased Office 2016 otherwise, you can of course use Microsoft Outlook 2016 instead of Apple’s Mail, Contacts, and Calendar apps. And even if you do prefer Apple’s apps, using the other Office applications—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote—is a must, of course.

I’m not a huge fan of desktop Outlook on Windows or the Mac, but it does natively support your Microsoft account. Curiously, it does not understand two-step authentication, however, so you will need an app password with this application too. Nice job, Microsoft.

(Note: As with, above, you can of course access various Office web apps from your browser too. But if you’re an Office 365 subscriber, it makes more sense to use the more full-featured (and offline-capable) Office 2016 desktop applications instead.)

Use OneNote

Speaking of Office 2016, Microsoft’s excellent note-taking application, OneNote, is freely available on all platforms, including the Mac. In other words, you don’t need an Office 365 subscription to use OneNote. You can just download and use it for free.

Use OneDrive

While you can always access your Microsoft account’s OneDrive cloud storage from a web browser, there’s a better approach: You can download the free OneDrive app for Mac, sync your OneDrive-based folders to your Mac, and access it as you would in Windows 10, directly from the file system.

Use Skype

Like OneNote and OneDrive, Skype is available on the Mac for free, and it appears to look and work nearly identically to the version for Windows desktop. (One exception, unless I’m missing something: Skype for Mac does not appear to support the Split Window View I prefer; you’re stuck with Single Window View instead, as with the Skype Preview for Windows 10.)

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