How to Open MSG Files on Mac in 2024: The Small Business Owner‘s Guide

As a consultant who assists hundreds of entrepreneurs and small business owners, I regularly see them struggle to open Outlook MSG files on Macs. MSG files are created and stored in a format that only Microsoft Outlook on Windows PCs can recognize. Trying to open these files on a Mac results in frustrating error messages.

Based on my experience, here are the most effective methods I recommend small business owners use to open MSG files on Mac in 2024.

A Quick Primer: Inside MSG Files

To solve any technical problem, you first need to understand it. Here‘s a quick look inside MSG files:

  • MSG is the file format Outlook on Windows uses to store emails, appointments, contacts, tasks, and other items.
  • Information inside MSG files includes text content, formatting, attachments, images, metadata, and other data.
  • Apple Mail on Mac uses a different format called EML for its email files.
  • Because of these differing formats, MSG files appear unopenable on Macs.

Knowing exactly what MSG files contain and how they differ from Mac‘s EML format helps guide our solution process.

Method 1: Quick View in TextEdit (Recommended for Quick Previews)

If you simply want a quick preview of the MSG file contents, use TextEdit – Mac‘s built-in text editor.

Here‘s how:

  1. Locate the MSG file in Finder, right-click, and choose Open With > TextEdit
  2. You‘ll see garbled, messy code. Scroll through it to find readable text portions.
  3. Look for email headers to see sender, date, subject. Scroll for message body text.

Pros: Quick, easy method to glimpse MSG contents.

Cons: Formatting, images and attachments won‘t show correctly. Just shows raw message text.

I recommend this method for entrepreneurs who just need a fast preview of an MSG text body. But for full file access, try the other techniques below.

Method 2: Change File Extension to EML (Works for Simple MSG Files)

The EML format that Mac Mail uses is similar in structure to MSG. Trying to open an MSG file as EML sometimes works.

Here‘s how to attempt this:

  1. In Finder, locate the MSG file, right-click and choose Rename
  2. Change the file extension from .msg to .eml. For example: meeting.msg becomes meeting.msg.eml
  3. Double click the renamed file to open in Mac Mail.

Pros: Quick solution that works for simple MSG files with just message text.

Cons: Unreliable for files with complex formatting, images, attachments.

I recommend small business owners attempt this easy method first. But be prepared to use a more robust solution for complex files.

Method 3: Open MSG Files in Outlook Web App (Reliable But Cumbersome)

Outlook Web App is Microsoft‘s free online version of Outlook email. Since it‘s web-based, it can open MSG files reliably on any device.

To use Outlook Web App:

  1. Create a free account if you don‘t have one.
  2. Attach your MSG file to a new mail or upload it to OneDrive.
  3. Open the MSG file in to view its full contents.
  4. Copy or download any text, images, or attachments you need.

Pros: Opens MSG files perfectly.

Cons: Uploading and re-downloading attachments is tedious.

This method works, but the multi-step process may frustrate some users. I suggest Outlook Web App for occasional, important MSG files.

Method 4: Convert MSG Using a Trusted Online Converter (Convenient But Potential Security Risks)

Numerous free online converters promise to convert MSG files to Mac-friendly formats like PDF and DOCX.

However, risks of online converters include:

  • Spyware, adware, malware vulnerabilities when downloading software
  • Financial risks if "free" services convert only part of files then demand payment
  • Privacy risks uploading confidential business data

If reputable, CloudConvert and Zamzar can securely convert MSG files. But heavy research beforehand is a must.

I advise caution when using any online converter for business files.

Method 5: Use a Dedicated MSG Converter App (Easiest for High Volume)

For entrepreneurs who deal with MSG files constantly, investing in desktop converter software can save hours of headaches.

Popular Mac MSG converter apps include:

  • MSG Viewer Pro ($15): Full Outlook compatibility, converts into PDFs, HTML, JPGs, DOCX etc.
  • MailRaider (Free or $30 Pro): Decent basic conversion with paid Pro version for full Outlook support.
  • MSGViewer (Free): Handles simple MSG files well but lacks some advanced features.

Evaluating reviews and free trials to pick the best app based on your needs is wise. Factor in conversion file types needed, price, ease of use.

For business owners receiving MSG files often, a paid converter app pays for itself in productivity.

Method 6: Use a Windows Virtual Machine (Powerful But Complex)

Running Windows in a virtual machine on your Mac lets you seamlessly operate both environments on one computer.

Benefits of virtualization:

  • Gives full native Windows environment without dual booting.
  • Makes switching between Windows and MacOS as easy as swapping between Mac apps.
  • Lets you natively run any Windows software including Outlook.

Downsides are complexity configuring the virtual machine, and performance overhead.

For entrepreneurs highly skilled in tech, using sophisticated software like Parallels Desktop to run Windows virtually can be a godsend for working with MSG files.

But for most small business owners, this degree of complexity is overkill for occasional MSG needs.

Method 7: Use a Windows Computer (Tedious But Guaranteed)

When no other option works, physically accessing a Windows PC to open the MSG file remains a surefire solution.

Options to access Windows include:

  • Asking a friend with a Windows laptop
  • Using a work computer with Outlook
  • Visiting the library and using their PCs
  • Copying the file to a USB drive and plugging into any available Windows computer

While slow, this gives 100% reliable MSG access. I‘ve had many clients use this temporary file transfer method successfully.

Summing Up: A Business Owner‘s Guide to Opening Essential MSG Files on Mac

As a consultant who assists small business owners daily, I hope this guide has given you clarity in solving the Outlook MSG file dilemma on Mac.

I aim to combine technical guidance with real-world entrepreneurship experience to help fellow business owners stay productive and profitable.

The key is choosing the right method for your specific needs. Quick previews, occasional files, or high volume conversions each have tailored solutions covered here. Reach out if you need any assistance!