Set Up A Hotmail E-mail Account

8 September 2009 (updated)

This article describes how to register a free Windows Live Hotmail e-mail account and how to send and receive messages.

Sign Up For Hotmail

This article explains how to set up a free e-mail account through Hotmail.

Go to the Hotmail web site (www.hotmail.com) and click on the Sign Up button.

Windows Live Hotmail is Microsoft's new free e-mail service, replacing MSN Hotmail.

To use Hotmail, you need a Windows Live ID. This ID can be used for other Microsoft services such as Windows Live Messenger.

Fill in the form to Sign up for a free Windows Live ID as explained below.

Choose Your Hotmail Address

In the first box on the sign up form, type what you would like your Hotmail e-mail address to be (this is also your Windows Live ID). You can use your first name or any words you like, but remember that most common words and names will have already been taken by other people.

So if your name is George, for example, you will need to choose something more complex than just 'george@hotmail.com'. Try adding on a number such as your year of birth, for example 'george1984@hotmail.com', or add a phrase, for example 'georgeiscool@hotmail.com'.

Using the down arrow button you can also choose whether to have '@live.com' or '@hotmail.com' in your address.

Click the Check Availability button to see if that e-mail address is available. If it is already taken, you will need to try different addresses until you find one that is available.

Choose A Password

Next choose a password, this must be different to what you entered as your e-mail address or it will be too easy for other people to guess. The password should be at least six characters long and preferably a mixture of letters and numbers.

You will be shown your password strength. This shows how difficult it would be for someone else to guess your password (obviously it is better to have a password that rates as 'medium' or preferably 'strong').

In the next box re-type your password to confirm it. Make a note of your e-mail address and password as you will need to use them to access your e-mail in future.

In the next box you can enter another e-mail address if you have one. This is in case you lose your password and need it sent to you.

Alternatively you can choose a security question that you will be asked if you forget your password, for example the name of your first pet. Type in your answer to that question, which must be at least five characters long.

Now continue down the page filling out your personal information in the appropriate areas. Use the down arrow button to choose your country/region from a list, and enter any other required details such as your gender and birth year.

Confirmation

In the next box you must type the characters you see in the picture shown. These characters are displayed in a special way to confuse malicious computer programs that try to sign up for lots of e-mail addresses automatically, usually for spamming purposes.

If you have any problems reading the characters, click on the speaker button for an audio version, or click on the refresh arrows button to request a new picture.

You can choose to receive promotional offers if you wish. Click I accept to agree to the terms of using your account.

Your account is now created and you should see your Windows Live Hotmail Inbox.

Checking Your Messages

The menu on the left shows the different mail folders you have:

  • Inbox - all the messages you receive appear in here
  • Junk - detected spam messages go here
  • Drafts - messages you are working on but have not yet sent go here
  • Sent - copies of messages already sent go here
  • Deleted - messages you have deleted go here

You will probably already have one message in your Inbox, this is an automated welcome letter from Windows Live Hotmail Member Services.

To open this or any other e-mail you receive, click on the message title. You will now be able to read the contents of the e-mail message.


If you want to delete a message and remove it from your account, click the Delete option on the menu at the top. This puts it in the Deleted folder where it will soon be removed permanently.

Hotmail will try to automatically filter out spam or junk mail messages that you receive, but occasionally some unwanted messages may get through. If you receive an e-mail which you think is spam, avoid opening it and instead tick the box next to it and click on Junk on the top menu.

Send A Message

To create a new message to send to someone, click on New from the top menu. In the To box type in the e-mail address of the person you want to send the mail to. Later when you have added some friends' addresses to your Contact list, you can click the To: button to quickly insert their address in the box.

If you ever need to send a copy of your message to more than one person, you can use Cc (Carbon Copy - which lets all recipients see the addresses of everyone who else has received the message) and Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy - which hides other recipients' addresses). By default, these options are not shown. You can click the Show Cc & Bcc link on the right of the page to see these boxes.

In the Subject box, type a title for your message, for example 'Party Invitation'. You can now type your full message into the large message box below.

You can use the row of icons above the message box to change text style, text size and other options (hold your mouse over an option button for a second to see a description of that option). By left-clicking and dragging your mouse to highlight a word or sentence you have already typed, you can change the look of that text by clicking on one of these menu icons.

You can also create a link to a web site by clicking on the Insert Link icon, then type the address of the site in the box and click OK.

Instead of sending your message straight away, you can choose to Save draft from the top menu to put the message in your Drafts folder to work on later.

Click Send on the top menu when you are ready to send your e-mail. You should then see a note telling you the e-mail has been sent. Any messages you send will be stored in your Sent folder. If you see a warning asking you to verify your account, follow the instructions then send your e-mail message again.

You can choose to click the Add to contacts button to add the address of the person you just e-mailed to your list of Contacts for easy access in the future, or just click Return to inbox.

Reply To A Message

If you want to reply to an e-mail you are viewing, click Reply on the menu.

When you do this, you should find that the To box is already filled out for you and the Subject box has the message title and the letters 'RE:' which means this is a reply to the previous message.

In the message box itself is a copy of the message you are replying to. It is usually best to leave this copy here and start typing in the space above it. This way the person you are replying to will be able to see your new message along with their original message at the bottom for reference.

Click Send when you are ready to send your reply.

Attaching Files

Sometimes you will want to attach a file to send with your e-mail, such as a letter or picture file.

To do this, click on Attach on the top menu. You should see a new window appear allowing you to find the file on your computer that you want to attach.

When you have found your file, click on it once to select it then click the Open button. The new window will disappear and you will see your message again, but this time under the Subject box you will see the name of the file you just attached, along with some information about the Total size of your email.

Some e-mail accounts do not let you send or receive very large files with your e-mail. To read about ways of making large files smaller, read this article:
E-mail Attachments

You can tell if a message you have received in your Inbox has an attachment if it has a paperclip symbol by the side of it. If it is a picture file you will automatically be able to see it when you view the message.

Signing Out

When you have finished working with your e-mail account, click the sign out link at the top-right of the page.

It is especially important to remember to sign out if you are accessing your e-mail from a public computer or one you share with other people, because if you leave it without logging out the next user of the PC could have access to your e-mail account.

Signing In

When you want to sign in to check your e-mails in future, go to www.hotmail.com and enter your e-mail address and password in the Sign in box. If you are using a public computer you should not tick the boxes marked Remember me on this computer or Remember my password. Click the Sign in button to go to your account and click on the Inbox link to see your messages.

Remember that your address and password are case-sensitive: for example, if you try to log-in to your account by typing TIGER123 when your password is actually tiger123, it will not be accepted. You must enter your password and address exactly as you typed it when signing up for your account.

You can change any of your Hotmail options from within your account by clicking on Options at the top-right of the screen, and you can get more information and help with your account by clicking on the Help icon.

Links

Related Tips


Ask A Computer Expert

Ask your computer question and get an answer in minutes via e-mail from experts at Just Answer. Choose how much to pay and only pay if you like the answer.


Get more tips in your free Easy Computer Tips E-book

Most Popular Tips

Quick Tip

Burning CDs/DVDs

When writing a CD or DVD leave your PC alone, as using other programs at the same time could interfere with the burning process.

more Quick Tips..

Software A - Z

Opera

Opera is a feature-packed web browser that can be used as an alternative to Internet Explorer.

Software A - Z

Computer Jargon Box

View our Computer Jargon page for explanations of common computer and internet terms used on this site.

computer jargon page