NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, March 2008
Windows Live Hotmail
by Lynn Page, Editor, Crystal River Users Group, Florida
newsletter(at)crug.com (click to email author)

Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.

I have had a Hotmail account for many years and use it regularly. The latest Windows Live Hotmail is easier to use and includes many impressive features. With 5 GB inbox so you donít have to worry about it filling up while you are away. Safety features, including color codes alert you to suspicious email and spam filtering automatically sorts out unwanted email. You can even drag and drop messages between folders to keep things clean and organized.

I use the full version, which contains some more advanced features but you can choose the classic version. Hotmail opens to the Today page, showing a status meter of mail usage, current news headlines, and a folders view showing how many unread emails are in the inbox.

Color codes make it easy to tell at a glance whether a message is safe or not. The bar at the top of a message comes in three colors: White means the message is from known contacts. Yellow means the message is from someone not on your contacts list. Red means the message appears to be fraudulent.

Control junk email with filters and senders lists. Select low, standard or exclusive filters. I use standard and it catches most of the spam. I also have junk email found with the filter sent to my junk email folder, where it is automatically deleted after five days. However, I look at the folder and empty it daily. After using the filter for some time, you may decide to immediately delete junk email. You can mark a message as safe or unsafe. Clicking the mark as unsafe link, automatically reports the sender to Hotmailís junk email filters and deletes the message. Then the sender will no longer be able to send you email and will receive notification that your address is not valid. If a non-junk email gets accidentally filtered to the Junk folder, clicking on the Not junk link to report a message as not junk. If someone is trying to solicit personal data, like passwords or financial information you can report the phishing scam. Click the down arrow by the Junk link and select Report phishing scam.

Maintain your safe senders, safe mailing lists and blocked senders to be sure you get the email that you need. Be careful when blocking a sender in choosing whether to block only the sender or domain.

I like to keep things organized and Windows Live Hotmail makes it easy to keep email organized. Just create new folders and file existing messages in them for later reference. Move messages by checking those to move, then use the Move to drop down menu to file them. The full version makes it even easier. You can drag and drop messages into the proper folder. To delete messages, select the messages, and then click delete.

If a filing system goes awry, you can use the search box above the inbox to find messages in one of your folders or inbox. Just type in a search and select the Mail button. Clicking web accesses images, news, or information across the Web based on your search.

Hotmail can even help maintain contacts. Contacts can be imported from Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Contacts, Yahoo Mail and Gmail. On the other hand, when you receive an email from a new contact you can easily add that person to your Windows Live Hotmail contact list. Just click the Add contact link below the From: line on their email. And your address book automatically updates anytime a contact changes Windows Live contact information.

You can export Windows Live Hotmail contacts to a CSV file to transfer to another email account or save a backup copy. If you regularly add email addresses to your contacts when you receive mail, duplicate contacts can become a problem. Now when you add a new contact from your inbox by clicking Add contact in a received message and the contact has the same name as an existing one, you're asked if you want to merge them. You still have the option of keeping them separate, giving you complete control over your contact list. Running clean up duplicate contacts searches for and cleans up duplicates. Just choose to delete, edit or merge information into one contact.

Windows Live Hotmail contacts have fields for most information you need and probably more. Add a first and last name, nickname; personal and business email address, phone numbers and address; birthday and a note for other information.

Options provide personalization features to suit your needs. Forward email from other accounts to Hotmail or forward Hotmail to another account. Set up a personal vacation reply when you will be unavailable. The reply is sent to any message that goes into the inbox. If you receive many messages from one person, they will get the vacation reply every four days.

Customize your email by selecting a language, reading pane settings and your email signature. Set whether to save a copy of sent email. You can even have sent mail include a different reply to address. Select the reading pane configuration to make the reading pane appear on the right or bottom of the screen or turn it off altogether. I personally keep the reading pane off in all of my email accounts. That way if a junk email gets through the filters, I can select and delete it without dealing with the message at all.

However, the full version of Windows Live Hotmail has a reading pane so you can preview a message without risk. The reading pane lets you quickly view your e-mail. Email from unknown senders has a yellow safety bar, and the attachments, pictures and links blocked to help avoid alerting spammers. You quickly go from message to message without opening and reloading the page. Double click the message to open it up in the full window. You can also change your inbox layout.

If you like to get an audible alert of new email, set Windows Live Messenger to notify you. In Windows Live Messenger, go to select Options in the Tools drop down menu. In Options select Alerts & Sounds and then Display alerts when e-mail is received.

To send an email, click the New envelope icon that in the top menu bar. In the full version, clicking the drop-down arrow to the right of the New button opens a menu to create new Folders, Contacts and Groups. If you click away from the email youíre composing, youíll receive a prompt to Save as draft. Use font styles, sizes and formatting, bullets, graphics and even emoticons while creating a message. Add recipients to an email from your list of contacts. Or with the full version just start typing the first or last name of the recipient and auto-complete finishes it from your address book.

If you regularly send email to the same group of people create personal distribution lists. Create a new list from your contact list. Just click on All contacts in the Contacts section and select the contacts in a group and then click the down arrow to open the Add to group drop down menu. Choose to add them to an existing group or create a new one. Once a group has been created type itís name into the To box when you want to send mail to everyone at once. Remember to use bcc.

I personally donít use blogs but if you do you can publish blog entries to your Windows Live Space from Windows Live Hotmail. If you have a customized a MSN.com page you can add your inbox to it. Then a glance at the page lets you know when you have new email. You can access and reply to email from a Web enabled cell phone or mobile device. Browse to http://www.mobile.live.com and log into your Windows Live Hotmail account.

This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

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