To use Outlook as an email program, you need to configure it to work with one or more email accounts. The best option for that is to use a free Google Gmail account. In case you haven’t encountered it yet, Gmail is a Web-based email service available through Google. If you have a Gmail account (or get one, which only takes a few minutes), you can connect Outlook to it. Once you have that connection set up properly, people can email you at your Gmail address, and you can read it in Outlook. Going the other way, you can use Outlook to reply to your Gmail messages, or compose new messages that get sent using the Gmail account.
Why should you choose Gmail? Well, there are lots of other free email accounts out there, for example Yahoo! Mail & Hotmail. But connecting them to Outlook for free is the rub. Some of the email accounts you can get for free are set up so you can view them using your Web browser, but they’re set up to prevent you from connecting to them with programs like Outlook. Other email accounts (Yahoo! Mail & Hotmail, for example) allow you to connect to them with Outlook, but only if you pay for your email account. Their free versions won’t help you at all. There aren’t that many Web-based email accounts that provide free connections to Outlook. Google’s Gmail is the biggest and best of this elite group.
Gmail gives you a huge amount of free storage for your email right on the Google computers. It also provides powerful search capabilities (basically doing a Google search on your own email). Google supports the Gmail service with advertising, but you only see the ads when you use your Gmail account with your web browser, not when you use Outlook. Gmail is clearly the free email service you want to use to connect to Outlook.
The directions for making the Gmail Outlook connection are moderately difficult, but most people can make the connection on their own or with a little help. If you want to try setting up a Gmail account & connecting it to Outlook 2007, the instructions are posted here.
Configuring Gmail and Outlook to work together is just one of the topics covered in Lesson 1 of the 6-week online course, Introduction to Outlook 2007. If strengthening your Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 skills in this time of uncertain job prospects makes sense to you, I suggest you visit http://IntroToOutlook2007.info to learn more.