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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Comments (39)

39 responses to “First Steps: Use Your Microsoft Account on Your Mac”

  1. 3494

    I set up my account in Apple Mail on my Mac as an exchange account with no problem. Am I missing something here?

  2. 3183

    To get mail notifications from the Outlook web app I used a menubar program called "Howard." Strongly recommend.

  3. 2

    This kills me because I spent a ton of time on this over the weekend. But I still cannot get my account (which is actually a Hotmail account) configured using the Exchange account type.

  4. 2

    OK. Got it.

    First, thanks. 

    Second, the way to do this right, apparently, is to use a bogus password the first time. Only then was I prompted with the server URL fields.

    Will document this, fix this article right after lunch.

    Again, thanks!

  5. 5539

    So, you run into shortfalls accessing your MS services using Chrome on a MAC. Really? You were expecting these companies to make compatibility seamless with their competitors? Each has incentive to make things better if you stay within their ecosystem. I'd rather MS spend their time making my MS services bulletproof in MS applications on Windows,(it's not yet), rather than work on stuff working flawlessly in Chrome on a MAC.

    • 2

      In reply to SvenJ:

      Yeah, I do expect that. Microsoft accounts work fine on iOS. And Office 365 accounts (and Google accounts) work fine on macOS. This is a weird exception, and I expect it to be fixed. 

  6. 1079

    Paul, what version of OS is your Mac running? I went through the setup up for on my Mac running macOS Sierra (10.12.2) using the native apps.  I selected the Exchange account, entered username and password for and hit sign in. It took me to the next screen (see below), I left all options checked.  Setup completed with no errors.  It pulled mail down with no issues.  I went to the website, entered a test contact name and a test calendar item.  When I opened the native apps on the Mac, both tests were there.

    Anyone else try this?  Did it work?

  on Mac apps   

  7. 2

    OK, I have completely updated the article. Thanks very much for all the help. It's crazy that this isn't more obvious.

  8. 8444

    I read that recently in another article of you. So here is my question: why do you prefer webapps instead of "native stock apps". Only for laptops/desktops? Or for mobile too?

  9. 9519

    In addition to not supporting 2 factor auth,  Outlook 2016 also has issues with setting up Exchange accounts. I tried setting up my new student email,  which is an Exchange account, however the settings the school requires to access the email through an email client exceed the info that Outlook 2016 seems to allow when setting up Exchange accounts. Meanwhile the built in Mail app for Windows 10 has form entries for all the info. Go figure! 

  10. 699

    Is it really necessary to jump through all these hoops? Only asking because I configured my msn account in Microsoft Outlook mail on my Mac Mini over the weekend and it seems to work just fine how I have entered it, password and user name only under accounts.. will this work too, or fail eventually?

  11. 154

    I am still on the old (which in of itself is beyond annoying).  I am using 2-Level authentication.  I tried this with an app password, but it did not work.  My guess is this is because it is on the old  Did anyone who is still on the old get this to work?


  12. 2

    Because this drama can never end, I just removed the account and now it's not working again. SIGH.

    This is really strange. But I did get it working, so I will keep repeating this until I figure out the magic potion that always works...

  13. 3233

    It works perfectly for me ...... happy to help you debug.

  14. 5476

    You can setup your Exchange account on Apple manually.  If the automatic settings part fails it goes to a page that allows you to set it up.  

    I tried to embed image which was not working, so here is a link to what it will look like.

    Here is server settings as well.


    Edited to add:  Mine works when using auto setup, I was able to get that server setting from that.  It works for those where auto did not work when I sent it to them! 

  15. 8840

    Thanks sooo much for publishing this information!

    I had added my email via "Add Other Account..." That resulted in a not-so-reliable connection. I followed your instructions, and (knock on wood) it's going great.