Sync FAQs for Outlook 2011

[Jun 12, 2015 Since this article was written, Sync Services have been depreciated. The following info would only be useful if you are running an older version of OS X. Outlook will only sync via Exchange. There is no sync for local contacts and calendars. Office 2016 Preview does not offer sync to CalDAV and CardDAV needed to sync to Apple’s iCloud or Google Contacts and Calendars.]

Sync Services continues to be a hot topic for Outlook 2011 POP and IMAP users. If you don’t know what type of account you have, see below. This article will answer the most frequently asked questions for sync. For additional sync questions see this page for help.

What are Sync Services?

Sync Services is a central database on your Mac that keeps track of applications and devices that share information. Currently, you can only sync contacts, but calendar sync is coming. Exchange accounts do not rely on Sync Services. You will be able to sync your email, calendar, contacts and tasks if you have an Exchange account.

When can we expect Sync Services for calendar events?

According to the Microsoft  OfficeforMac Team Blog

We will add calendar sync support through Sync Services in the first half of 2011 (background on why it isn’t available today here).This update will solve for customers looking not running Exchange to sync their Outlook calendar across devices such as iPhone or Mobile Me.

You can also read this article, Microsoft explains decision to delay calendar sync in Outlook for Mac

How will I know when Sync Services is available for calendar sync?

Your best bet to get official Microsoft news is on the Microsoft team blog. If you use twitter, follow @officeformac. This blog will also cover updates. You can follow us at @officemachelp

What are my options until Sync Services is available for calendar events?

Option 1: Use iCal. When Sync Services becomes available all your iCal events will sync back to Outlook.

Option 2: Use Entourage and sync via iCal. Entourage will work with Word 2011, Excel 2011, PPT 2011.

Option 3: Get a Hosted Exchange account This page rates several services.

Can I sync my Google calendar, iPad, Windows Live, Yahoo accounts?

At this time, Outlook for Mac does not sync with web-based calendars such as Windows Live Calendar or Google Calendar. When sync to iCal is enabled, you could then use iCal to sync to Google calendars. Outlook does not support CalDAV at this time.

Compare Sync options for POP, IMAP & Exchange Accounts
Account Calendar E-Mail Contacts Tasks
POP No Leave on server** will allow you to download on another client or device, but it will not reflect read or reply status. No No
IMAP No Yes, will reflect actions like reply, read, deleted on all other clients and devices No No
Exchange* Yes Yes* Yes Yes
Gmail No Yes, Gmail offers both POP & IMAP for free. No, however if you sync to the Apple Address Book this can sync to Gmail contacts. No
MobileMe*** No for POP & IMAP. Expected resolution in first half of 2011. Yes, offers both POP & IMAP Yes, you can sync your MobileMe contacts if it’s enabled in Mobile Me preferences No
Yahoo No Yes. POP & IMAP. Yahoo requires a paid account to download with an email client No No
Windows Live No POP only. There is no IMAP option for Mac users. No No


* Outlook does not support Exchange 2003. If you can enable IMAP on your Exchange 2003 server you can use Outlook to view your account via IMAP. You will not have access to your calendars or contacts.

** POP accounts allow you to select “leave on server” as an option. If you never delete from the server, you need to make sure you are aware of the size limit your ISP has set for your account. In addition, if the ISP reboots their server, the message IDs will be reset and Outlook will download all your messages again. I suggest that if you want to store all your messages on the server that you log into your account with your web browser and create a folder to archive your messages. Move older emails out of the Inbox. Outlook only downloads from the Inbox. Your best option is to switch to IMAP.

See How do I stop Outlook from downloading my mail over and over again?

***Apple’s Frequently Asked Questions about the new MobileMe Calendar

How do I know what type account I have?

Open Accounts under Tools in the Menu bar. Select your account from the list. At the top of the window, it will show account name and type.

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5 comments to Sync FAQs for Outlook 2011

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  • Jeff

    Have installed Service Pack 1. Not only does Outlook not bring calendar entries in from iCal, but when I try to drag-and drop an appointment (through .ics export out of iCal), the appointment appears initially in Outlook, which will allow me to edit the appointment – but then the appointment disappears. This is obviously a bug.

    • Outlook does not sync the the iCal calendars like Work, Home. It only syncs to the calendars it create by category. Enter an event in Outlook. Assign a category to event. This should sync to iCal. You can move the events in iCal calendars to the new Outlook calendars.

      Verify that you turned on Sync Services in Outlook > Preferences > Sync Services.

      Try deleting these files in your User’s Library/Preferences folder:

      You will need to reactivate Sync Services in the Outlook Preferences pane.

  • Lee

    Will Outlook for Mac ever have 2-way sync caldav support or sha I give up all hope?

  • Terrence

    I finally found a work around to synchronize Outlook 2011 with Google Calendar!

    First I set up Sync Services to sync my Outlook 2011 calendar to iCal calendar. I make sure that I have all the categories that I want to have in my Outlook and create some event for each category so that it gets created in the iCal calendar as well.

    Then I downloaded this software called “Spanning Sync 3”, installed it and set it up with my Google account (Spanning Sync is a paid software with a 15 day trial if you want to try it first). After that, I can do the setup for syncing the iCal with the Google Calendar by mapping the categories in iCal to the categories in the Google account.

    What happens is that when you create, modify or delete an event in Outlook, this event gets synced to iCal which in turn gets picked up by Spanning Sync and syncs to Google Calendar. Similarly, any changes in Google Calendar gets synced to iCal via Spanning Sync which in turn gets synced back to Outlook. This solution does not involve CalDAV to sync to Google Calendar.

    Use this URL to get a discount for Spanning Sync,

    Hope this will help someone else out there 🙂