Since we launched the Outlook.com preview a few days ago, we’ve been humbled and amazed by the reception and by the number of people who have upgraded. In fact, in just the first few days alone, we’ve seen several million people upgrade to Outlook.com. Over the next week we’ll write a series of posts covering upgrading and using Outlook.com, starting with this post covering upgrading from Hotmail, and then followed by posts discussing upgrading from Gmail, Yahoo, and other services. These are all written by Dick Craddock, who runs the Program Management Team for Outlook.com.
- Chris Jones
Upgrading to Outlook.com is easy, no matter which service you’re currently using. In the coming days, we’ll look at how to upgrade to Outlook from other services. But today, we’ll look at upgrading to Outlook from Hotmail.
First of all, it’s important to know that you don’t need to create a new account to use Outlook.com – you can upgrade with the Hotmail account you’re already using. We bring your settings and data across to Outlook.com, and to your phone and clients, including Outlook with the Outlook Connector, all of which will continue to work, just as before.
These instructions will work for any email address that currently uses Hotmail, including @hotmail.com, @msn.com, @live.com, etc.
We highly recommend that you upgrade to Outlook.com with your existing Hotmail account, rather than creating a new account. If you want a new @outlook.com email address, this article shows you how to add one to your existing account.
All your data and settings just work
When you upgrade to Outlook.com from Hotmail, you get the new Outlook.com service, and you keep everything about your account intact:
- Your email address continues to work – no need to change it
- You will continue to sign-in with your @hotmail.com using the same password
- All your devices will continue to work, including your phone and the Outlook client with the Outlook Connector
- You retain all of your contacts – no extra steps to take
- You retain all of your folders, categories, flagged messages, rules, etc.
- Your signature and vacation reply come with you
- Your settings for things such as Reading Pane and Arrange By Conversation stay the same
How to upgrade
The easiest way to upgrade is to sign-in to Outlook.com:
- Go to http://outlook.com
- Sign-in with your existing Hotmail account (@hotmail.com, @msn.com, @live.com, etc.)
Important: Don’t sign-up for a new account; just sign-in with your existing Hotmail account. You don’t need to change your address to use Outlook; in fact, if you sign-up for a new address, there is no way to combine or merge that new account with your old account.
That’s it! You should now be using the new Outlook.com service. From now on, you can sign-in at http://outlook.com. Of course, signing in at http://hotmail.com or http://mail.live.com still works. If you do, you’ll still continue to see the Outlook.com experience.
Getting a new @outlook.com email address
Now that you’ve upgraded to Outlook, you might want to get a new @outlook.com email address. This is entirely optional, of course. Your existing Hotmail address will be supported.
One important note: The Preview does not support adding email addresses in country-specific domains, such as @outlook.co.uk; @outlook.com.br, etc. This is a limitation we’ll be working to address.
There are two ways to get a new @outlook.com email address to use with your account: adding an alias or renaming your account.
Add an @outlook.com alias to your account
An alias is an email address that is added to your account. You can add up to five aliases per year to your account up to a maximum of 15, and you can send and receive email from all of these aliases.
Aliases are a great way to use different email addresses with the same inbox. Outlook can even automatically file email sent to each alias in separate folders.
There are a few limitations that you should be aware of:
- There is a limit of five aliases per account, per year.
- You can send email from an alias in the Outlook.com web interface. However, you won’t be able to send email from an alias from your phone or other client. Instead, email you send from your phone or other client will still be sent from the primary address of your account. This is a limitation we’re working hard to remove, so stay tuned.
- You cannot sign in to your account with the alias. You should continue to use your primary account name to sign in
Here’s how to add an alias to your account:
First, sign-in to outlook at http://outlook.com using your Hotmail account. Now, click on the Options “cog” in the upper right corner of the window, and click on “More mail settings.”
Next, click on “Create an Outlook alias.” It’s the next-to-last option in the first column, under the heading “Managing your account.”
You’ll be taken to the Create alias page, where you’ll notice that “@outlook.com” is already selected for you. Enter the email name that you want to create in the box labeled “Email address” and click “Create an alias.”
You may not get the first name you try, since it might already be taken by someone else. Don’t worry – just try another name (and try to pick a name that is more likely to be unique).
After you’ve successfully chosen an address, you’ll be taken back to your Inbox, and you’ll see a confirmation that lets you choose where email sent to the new address goes: into a new folder, or an existing folder, which by default is your Inbox. Choose which option works best for you, and click “Done.”
By the way, if you chose to send email to a new folder, you can always change your mind. Outlook created a rule for you automatically, and you can easily edit or delete the rule by right-clicking “Folders” in the left column of your Inbox, and selecting “Manage rules.”
Rename your account to an @outlook.com account
You can rename your account to an @outlook.com account, and when you do, your old account becomes an alias, so you’ll still receive email sent to the old account.
Fair warning: Renaming is a big deal. It changes the primary name of your account, which means that you will have to immediately start signing in with the new name (same password) on all your devices, such as your phone, PC, Xbox, etc.
Renaming an account is not something that you can easily “undo”; in fact, there are some cases where it’s impossible to undo. So, please be very sure of your decision before following the steps below.
Also, there are some limitations of rename that you should be aware of:
- If you use a Windows Phone, you will need to reset your Windows Phone to factory settings, and then set it back up with the new account name. You will lose all personal data on the Windows Phone when you do this, so make sure you have that data backed up. You will need to re-install all your applications on your phone, although you will not need to re-purchase them.
- It is not easy (and in rare cases not possible) to “undo” a rename. For example, if you rename an MSN account, you can’t rename it back, or if you created your account in one country and are renaming it in a different country, you won’t be able to rename it back to your original account unless you travel back to your original country. Be very sure of your decision.
- If your account has been blocked more than once because someone else was using your account, you will not be able to rename it. We’re working to remove this limitation.
- You can rename your account twice every 12 months. If you rename and then change your mind, renaming back into your old address doesn’t count towards your yearly limit.
Here’s how to rename your account:
First, sign-in to outlook at http://outlook.com using your Hotmail account. Now, click on the Options “cog” in the upper right-corner of the window, and click on “More mail settings.” Now, click on “Rename your email address” which is the last link in the first column under the heading “Managing your account”:
You’ll be asked to type in your password again. This extra security step is required to help protect your account, since renaming your account is a significant action.
You’ll be taken to the Rename page which will let you pick a new account name.
Windows Phone users should be aware that renaming their account will require them to restore their phone to factory settings and set it up again with the new name.
Just like creating an alias, you’ll need to pick a name that is likely to be unique, and click “Save.”
You’ll get a confirmation that your account was renamed. You may now need to go change your account name information on your phone or other devices.
How to switch back to Hotmail
If for some reason you aren’t enjoying the Outlook.com experience, you can easily switch back to Hotmail during the Preview period. Here’s how:
- Click on the Settings “cog” in the upper right corner, near where your sign-in name appears
- Click “Go back to Hotmail”
If you’re switching back to Hotmail, we’d love to hear from you. Please take a moment to give us feedback on why you decided to switch back. Thanks!
Enjoy Outlook.com, and tell us what you think
We’ve built Outlook.com to be modern email for the next billion inboxes. We hope you like it, and we want to hear from you. You can give us feedback right from the product by clicking on the Settings “cog” and clicking on the “Feedback” link (see the picture, above).
Our product team uses your feedback to make the product even better. So, tell us what you think, and thanks for using Outlook.com.
Dick Craddock, Group Program Manager, Outlook.com