PC Migration to Mac: Converting Outlook to Mac OS X Mail

Many PC users migrating to Mac OS X store their emails and other personal organization data (calendars, contacts) in Microsoft Outlook. Although setting up new email accounts is relatively simple, it can be frustrating to migrate previously downloaded ema

Many PC users migrating to Mac OS X store their emails and other personal organization data (calendars, contacts) in Microsoft Outlook. Although setting up new email accounts is relatively simple, it can be frustrating to migrate previously downloaded emails, contacts, and calendars.

Apple Discussions poster hans.kamp writes:

"I purchased my iMac several months ago after years of Windows experience...How can I move my e-mail history from Outlook 2007 into Mail. I checked the import options in Mail, but have not found a solution."

Apple advertises the Mac as a platform that is easy to migrate to. However, Outlook and some other windows applications are so restricted in their support for universal filetypes that it makes migration rather difficult, especially for downloaded data such as emails that might not be on servers anymore. Fortunately, there are several ways of quickly maintaining workflow on the Mac while users migrate from their PCs.

Microsoft-Based solutions Since modern Macs are built with Windows-compatible hardware, users have the option of installing the programs they use on the PC in the Mac. Apple provides a way to run windows natively using "Boot Camp", but this requires users to restart and not be able to access their Mac files while in Windows. To overcome this, for most office applications users can install a copy of windows to a virtual machine and access it using VMWare Fusion (http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/) or Parallels Desktop (http://www.parallels.com/). These programs will allow users to run windows and the desired applications nearly seamlessly next to Mac applications in OS X. As such, users can migrate their outlook data to a virtual machine and be able to run it as-is, at least as a temporary solution to stay up and running on their new machines while deciding how to best migrate their data over to native OS X application.

An alternative to virtualization solutions (which require the installation and booting of Windows in the background) is a program called "Crossover", which provides all the resources needed for certain windows applications to run, without actually installing windows itself. Microsoft Outlook is supported in this environment, and can be installed directly into OS X and import the data from Windows machines.

Converting and importing data to Mac OS X Unfortunately, Microsoft Outlook does not support exporting data from Outlook into formats that are easily or properly readable by other email clients. Even Microsoft's Mac mail client "Entourage" does not support importing data directly from Outlook, and as such is not that great of an intermediate step in migrating from Windows to the Mac. Users can do this using Microsoft's products, but it takes a convoluted steps that include installing older versions of Office which users may not have.

While the Microsoft-based solutions using virtualization or crossover will work temporarily for users, a more direct solution is to use the program Outlook 2 Mac which does a good job in converting the Microsoft .pst files used in Outlook to formats that can be installed in Mail, Address Book, and iCal. The program does cost $10, but has positive reviews from users switching from Windows.

Resources
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  • "Crossover"
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