Privacy is very crucial these days and is one of the most debated topics both online and offline. Outlook as an email client has access to some of your most sensitive information from emails, contacts, tasks, and Outlook calendar. The good news is that Microsoft Office offers you control over how the data is collected, shared, and sent from your computer to Microsoft databases across all the Office apps like Outlook, Excel, and Word.
Customize Privacy Settings in Outlook/MS Office
To review the privacy settings on Windows, go to the File -> Options
From the options window, go to the general tab -> Privacy Settings
When you click on “Privacy Settings,” you will get the following window:
From here, you can review all the settings and change whatever you find appropriate in your context.
#1 Required diagnostic data:
Outlook collects few of the data sets that cannot be changed or turned off. These are minimum required sets of information that Outlook uses for some essential services, such as security, performance, and keeping things up to date.
#2 Optional diagnostic data:
There are two sets of diagnostic data: required and optional. You can choose to turn off the optional diagnostic data if you want to be more secure about your privacy. Clear the checkmark on “send additional diagnostic and usage data to Microsoft” to disable sending your data. (As shown in the figure about under ‘1’)
#3 Third type of privacy settings
The third type of privacy setting is letting Office analyze your content so it can provide you better with better editing and design suggestions, insights about your data, and so on. If you don’t want Office to analyze your content at all, you can turn it off.
Disabling this privacy option will also disable many other features that run due to the connected experiences of Outlook, which is in turn based on analyzing your content by Outlook Machine-learning software. For instance, you will not be able to insert data from a picture. Disabling this privacy option affects mostly data related services, such as Excel sheets.
#4 Experiences that download online content:
There are some services in Windows Outlook and other Office apps that are constantly being improved for better experience by downloading external content from internet. For example, downloading templates, graphics, etc., to include in your emails and documents. Disabling these experiences is mostly a choice relevant to IT admins who manage many users within a corporation. Remember, that some of the online connected experiences cannot be turned off as they are essential for core functionality of Office apps including Outlook, such as syncing a mailbox and using “Teams” or Skype for Business.
#5 All Connected Experiences:
And finally, we have the setting for disabling or enabling all connected experiences of Office apps. To put simply, these are the services that are powered through cloud-based functionality and not possibly offline or locally. To use these services, users must be connected via internet. You can disable all this by simply un-checking the box that says “Enable Connected Experiences,” as shown below:
By modifying these privacy settings, you can have more control over what data is sent to Office and how. If you work with sensitive information and do not want anything to be shared or collected, you can disable the ones we mentioned above, but keep in mind that they also disable the features of Outlook that some might find useful. So go and check them for yourself and customize the privacy settings in a way that sets a nice balance between functionality and privacy.