Welcome to our Hotmail tutorial — Each of our tutorials covers a part of Windows Live Hotmail, one of the world's most popular webmail service. While this Hotmail tutorial includes screenshots from different "versions" of Hotmail, we kept intact older screenshots only where they remain relevant to the latest version of Microsoft's email service. While our Hotmail tutorials were written with the "web browser Hotmail experience" in mind, you can also use Hotmail from within a number of popular desktop email programs for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux: Hotmail in Windows Live Mail, Hotmail in Outlook 2003, Hotmail in Thunderbird, Hotmail in Windows Mail, Hotmail in Outlook Express.
Find below our Hotmail tutorials divided into sections for easier reading: once you click on one of the links, you'll have a full navigation on the left allowing you to jump from one topic to another, from basic Hotmail tutorials for beginners, messages and email folders, to managing your contacts, tips and tricks, and customizing your Windows Live settings.
In 2007, Microsoft has progressively rolled out the new version of Hotmail, "Windows Live Hotmail". Hotmail was completely re-designed, and plenty of new features were introduced. We will start our series of tutorials by clarifying the various email programs and webmail services, whose naming leads to confusion. Discover the New Hotmail and an overview of Hotmail.com, now and then (as you'll learn, Hotmail is more than 10 years old!)
The next tutorial will show you how to open an account with Hotmail, and guide you through the various steps, from registration to picking a Hotmail user name. In all, setting up a Hotmail account should take you no longer than five minutes. We will also discuss the "Hotmail Plus" option MSN offers, which allows you to view your emails from a browser without having to see the ads normally displayed in Hotmail's various screens. Create your Hotmail email account.
The next step, after having created your Hotmail account is the Hotmail sign in process - this tutorial discusses the various options and settings available when you log into Hotmail, including security precautions to keep in mind when accessing Hotmail from a public computer. You will then optionally learn more about the Hotmail login process: how it works, how to use the login options, and how to ensure that no-one else can access your Hotmail account. And for more detailed information about this topic, including login settings and sign in problems, please consult our dedicated series of tutorials on Hotmail Sign in.
Another recent addition to Hotmail is the ability to use it without the mouse, at least to a large extent for common functionality, by using special keystrokes. Discover how you can save time and become more efficient by using Hotmail keyboard shortcuts! (Aka using Hotmail without the mouse.)
You will then learn how you can check your Hotmail emails from your iPhone / iPod touch (which both use the same "Mobile Mac Mail" email program). Learn how to setup Hotmail on your iPhone or iPod touch.
Since early 2009, Windows Live Hotmail can be accessed like any regular POP3 mail service - Hotmail used a proprietary email protocol previously, which is why you could only check your Hotmail emails from email programs created by Microsoft, like Outlook Express, Windows Mail, and Windows Live Mail. Now that Hotmail allows for POP3 access, you can check your Hotmail emails from any email client that supports the POP3 protocol — nearly all modern email clients support POP3: Hotmail POP3 settings. A tutorial dedicated to Hotmail IMAP Settings will explain what the current limitations are, what to expect from the Windows Live team and future Hotmail development, and current workarounds. A more technical tutorial is devoted to the topic of Hotmail's incoming mail server.
You will also learn about the premium webmail service available to Windows Live Hotmail, namely Hotmail Plus, and all the perks it includes (increased storage, attachment size, more safe senders and more recipients at one time, no ads, etc.), and clarify any confusion about Hotmail Live, and the various names Microsoft has given to Hotmail and other email clients over time.
This series of Hotmail tutorials guide you through the process of reading emails, how you can customize the reading pane, read emails in full view, etc. We will explain how to display blocked content and missing or hidden images. You will also learn how to open and download Hotmail attachments (or files that people send you attached to emails). Our first tutorial though, will be a comprehensive overview of the Hotmail email editor and window (used to compose new emails, but also to reply to emails or forward them).
We will finally explain the process of email deletion: how to delete emails, recover deleted emails; when deleted emails are permanently removed from your Hotmail account, and irrecoverable, and different ways you can delete single emails or multiple emails at once.
In these Hotmail tutorials, you will learn how to compose new email messages, and familiarize yourself with Hotmail's email editor; we will then go over formatting options available to the email editor and how to email file attachments. An appendix to this tutorial discusses important and common questions about Hotmail's attachment size limits, how to work around the attachment limits, and how to increase the maximum attachment size for your Hotmail account.
A separate tutorial is dedicated to showing you how to add pictures inside the body of your emails with Hotmail: unlike the file attachment process, which uses the regular Windows file picker, Windows Live Hotmail allows you to install an add-on that allows you to manage your photos, edit them, and selectively upload images that will be resized and optimized for email content: unlike email attachments too, Hotmail will place these pictures "inline", or inside the body of your emails, as opposed to adding them as double-clickable attachments.
Windows Live Hotmail gives you the ability to automatically insert a signature for all outgoing emails; refer to this tutorial to learn how to add a signature to Hotmail. We will also show you how to permanently delete your email signature after the fact, and how to remove your signature from emails when you do not need it appended.
We will finally go over the Hotmail email sending process as it happens, and briefly discuss various topics like recalling emails, requesting read receipts or delivery confirmations, and delayed emails or undeliverable mail issues with Hotmail.
Your Windows Live Hotmail account comes with five built-in, or "standard", folders. Each of these email folders perform a very specific task, central to the Hotmail webmail service; as such, these folders cannot be deleted or renamed. The following tutorials will in turn introduce each of the five standard Hotmail folders:
Your Hotmail Inbox (central folder in which all emails arrive, except filtered spam), the Junk Mail (Spam) folder (for emails automatically filtered as spam, or manually marked as spam), the Drafts folder (where unsent emails you started composing are temporarily stored), the Sent folder (by default, Hotmail keeps there a copy of all emails you sent, for your records), and the Deleted folder, where deleted emails that aren't spam are moved (emails you delete from inside the Junk folder are permanently deleted, bypassing the recycle bin/trash can/deleted items folder - all equivalent terms, though Hotmail simply calls it "Deleted").
In addition to the standard folders, Hotmail lets you create your own folders. This is especially useful to organize your email messages in a manageable way, using your own system. Custom folders can also, very efficiently, be used in conjunction with Hotmail's "filters", or email rules, that enable you to automatically distribute emails into folders, based on preliminary conditions you set out.
Create a folder | Rename a folder | Empty a folder | Delete a folder
Your contacts are central to Hotmail; you email contacts, receive emails from potential contacts, etc. Hotmail is also an ideal online repository for your relatives, friends, and colleagues' information. In fact, using your Hotmail contacts as address book is a great idea, since they are available anywhere you have access to the Internet. This series of tutorials helps you manage your Hotmail contacts.
We will start with a brief overview of Hotmail contacts, and then explain how you can:
Add a sender as contact | Create a new contact | Edit contacts' information | Delete a contact
Instead of manually creating new contacts in Hotmail, you can also import them, as a batch, from another email program's address book, or from the contact list of another webmail service like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail - and once you have all your contacts inside your Hotmail address book (the "Contact List"), we will show you how easily you can export contacts from your Hotmail account! (The first step being to merge or remove duplicate Hotmail contacts.)
Import contacts in Hotmail | Export your Hotmail contacts
Another lesser known features of Hotmail contacts is the ability to create distribution lists, or mailing lists (contact groups) right from Hotmail: this is what Hotmail calls "contact categories" - a contact category is simply a convenient alias you create to refer with a single name to an entire sub-group of contacts: learn how to create and manage Hotmail contact categories.
This special series of tutorials will go over quite a few Hotmail tips and tricks we thought you might enjoy: all these tips have in common the fact that they are easy tricks to learn, and that since Hotmail is regularly updated, you may not have noticed that they existed. We will start with a few Hotmail secrets that will boost your productivity, follow with some "Aha" Hotmail tips, and end with a final Hotmail secret! Discover the list of Hotmail tips we have compiled.
Next, we will show you how you can view the email headers of your Hotmail messages, and how you can find out where a Hotmail email was sent from using the X-Originating-IP field, and the form we created to let you locate the sender (or the location of the registering organization).
Moving on, we will show you how to read your Hotmail emails in full screen, a technique that makes it easier to read ill-formatted emails on the one hand, and on the other, the second part of this Hotmail tip will show you how to read an email without the ads, even if you are not currently a Hotmail Plus subscriber. Read your emails full screen!
Not so obvious is the fact that you can check for new Hotmail messages without reloading the current page. The trick is to know how! In the next Hotmail tutorial, you will learn all about printing your emails in Hotmail, including the fastest way to print multiple emails.
To close our Hotmail tips with a final secret: we will show you how to access the official Hotmail Help, an easy-to-overlook feature fully integrated to the webmail service, that may teach you a few tricks, and help you in a bind.
A feature added recently in Hotmail allows you to check your emails from another email account right from Windows Live Hotmail. This means that once you log into your Hotmail account, you will automatically see new emails from other, non-Hotmail accounts, without having to open an email program, or another web browser window, to login to your other email account: learn how to check emails from another email account, right from Hotmail!
By the same token, you can setup another email account in Hotmail (to send emails) - this means that, just using Hotmail, you can send and receive email messages from not only your Hotmail account, but any other email account you add to Hotmail!
In conjunction with the Hotmail built-in search feature, you can very easily sort your emails in Hotmail: this tutorial will explain how to take advantage of the different email sorting options that come bundled with the Windows Live Hotmail webmail service. You can also use the email search feature that is built right into Hotmail when email sorting just doesn't cut it: learn how to easily search for Hotmail emails (How to find an email in Hotmail).
Another nice feature in Hotmail is the ability to setup email filters, or email rules, to automatically move emails (or delete) them based on custom filters you create for your account: create email filters (email rules). Similar to email filters, Hotmail also lets you setup automated vacation replies: this feature allows your Hotmail account to automatically send email notices to people who email you when you cannot check your emails, and have enabled to auto-replies: create an automated vacation reply.
By using a command in Internet Explorer 8 that tightly integrates with the various Windows Live services Microsoft offers, you are able to use Hotmail as your default email program, in addition to the full-fledged desktop email application that currently acts as Windows' default mail handler.
This series of tutorials will show you how you can easily customize your Windows Live Hotmail experience. We will start by giving you an in-depth overview of your Hotmail account, and follow up by showing you how you can change your Hotmail password (something you should ideally do from time to time to keep your account safe), and how to Retrieve or reset your Hotmail password if you have lost it or forgotten it.
We will then show you how you can configure Hotmail to Skip "Hotmail Today", and bring you right away to your inbox and emails, rather than go through this intermediary screen. Got married? No problem, we will explain how to easily change the name displayed with your email address (and other Windows Live services), and how you can protect your privacy by only displaying your last name to people whom you have already added as contacts.
Here's another way you can customize Hotmail: change Hotmail picture in your account profile.
By default, Hotmail uses the blue theme; but Hotmail ships with 12 "standard themes" and 6 "dynamic themes" that allow you to personalize (and colorize!) your Hotmail email experience with custom background images: learn how to change your Hotmail theme.
Hotmail automatically saves all emails you send from within Hotmail inside a web browser (not emails sent from an email program using your Hotmail account - these are saved (or not) by the email program itself). This tutorial will explain how you can modify your settings to stop saving copies of sent messages, and how to turn the feature back on later on; we will also show you how to empty the Sent items folder: save or delete your sent email messages.
When you forget your Hotmail account password, there are several options for recovering it; one of them is to use an alternate email account to which your password can be emailed; learn how you can change Hotmail address (alternate email address).
What happens if you decide that you like a new email address better? No problem, see how easily you can change Hotmail account.
The next tutorials will introduce you to Hotmail Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger as it is now officially called; Hotmail Messenger is a great companion software for Hotmail users: since it is also developed by the Windows Live team (who maintains and upgrades Hotmail), the two products integrate seamlessly. In an introductory tutorial, we will give you an overview of Hotmail Messenger. We will then explain the Hotmail Messenger Download process, and actually give you a walk-through of the installation process as well.
Hotmail Kids — This tutorial explains how you can best protect your children when they use Windows Live Hotmail (or any other webmail service) - we will show you one quick way to make Hotmail safer for kids when checking their emails from a web browser (like Internet Explorer or Firefox), but offer an alternate solution best for Hotmail kids.
An email client like Windows Live Mail allows you to natively check your Hotmail emails as an "IMAP" account; you can also achieve the same functionality in Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007. While, since early 2009, you can setup your Hotmail account in any email program that supports the POP3 email protocol, this does not let you take advantage of all Hotmail has to offer (like synchronized email folders, etc.) This tutorial will first explain Hotmail Outlook settings, and the next tutorial will explain Hotmail Connector download and installation process: this is the free Microsoft add-in for Outlook that lets you check your Hotmail emails with the full experience, like you would in Windows Live Mail, and formerly in Outlook Express.
If you are no longer using your Hotmail email address, you do have the ability to permanently delete your Hotmail account; but since disconnecting, or closing your Hotmail account is an irreversible decision, with some potentially negative down sides (discussed in that tutorial), we will also show you how to setup mail forwarding in Hotmail as an alternative option to actually deleting your account: learn how to setup mail forwarding, and forward your Hotmail emails to another email account.
Our brief discussion of Hotmail Gmail comparison and friendly match-up will give you a good starting point for evaluating soundly the pros and cons of these two free webmail services who take radically different approaches to email management. We hope that this Hotmail Gmail side-by-side overview will help you make an informed decision when it comes to something like email, a tool you likely use daily.
Another short tutorial and overview of Hotmail Yahoo! Mail - a quick set of guidelines and concerns you need to keep in mind when making your Hotmail Yahoo! Mail choice (or preferably before picking Hotmail over Yahoo! Mail — or the reverse). Hotmail Yahoo! Mail comparisons are relatively easy because of the great similarities between the two offerings. As the threat of Gmail grew, both Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail have had to increase the features and functionality of their webmail service to remain competitive. The stuff you get nowadays with the free version of Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail was previously unheard of - this makes your choice more difficult, and this tutorial hopefully helpful it steering you one way or the other.