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A better way to manage aliases and primary email address for your Microsoft account

As we’ve talked about before, we’re focused on delivering connected devices and services to you, our customers. And Microsoft account makes your experiences on devices and services more personal and relevant. When you sign in to any device or service with your Microsoft account, your personal settings, contacts and other information meet you there. It keeps you connected to the people you care about on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other services. It all just works, wherever you go.

One of our principles is that we should adapt to how you want to work, not vice versa. This is why we allow you to use any email address to sign in to your Microsoft account. We’ve also heard from you that over time things change with your account–you might get married, start a new job, move or any number of life events that make you want to change your email address. We want to make it easier to keep your account up to date as these life events happen.

Several years ago we launched the ability to rename or to add aliases to your account, which gave important flexibility to manage these changes. But we found that these tasks were a little too monolithic. For example, sometimes you wanted to sign in with one alias but use another to send mail or display on your Xbox. So we started working to break these tasks down to give you more flexibility.

In April, we added the ability to sign in with any alias on your account. At that time, Rename was left unchanged; and it walked you through an experience to add a new alias and switch which one was the “primary” alias on your account.

Today, we’re replacing rename with a simpler and clearer choice to make any of your aliases a primary alias. We’ve also made it clearer why you might want to do this (and why you might not). Now that you can sign in with any alias, really the only reason to make a different alias your primary one is if you want a different email name to show on your Microsoft devices, like the background of your Xbox or your Windows 8 PC.

To manage your aliases (or make other changes to your account), go to https://account.live.com/, click on “Account aliases” in the left navigation bar, and then follow the instructions.

Account alias page

This change will roll out to all accounts in the next few days.

Thanks for all the feedback and for using our products. Keep the feedback coming.

Eric Doerr, Group Program Manager, Microsoft account

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41 comments
  1. I have a live email address, and an outlook email address, and I’m unable to figure out how to switch between them. When I try to add the live email address as an alias it says "This is already part of your security info." I don’t know what that message has to do with what I’m trying to accomplish.

  2. I still can’t add an existing hotmail account as an alias to my existing outlook account.

    Since account linking was removed, I thought alias’ were the replacement.

    Ideally, I would like to merge my accounts (like how they got merged when you upgraded your hotmail to outlook).

    • yep. i have two hotmail accounts that i have had for like 10-15 years that i do not use regularly, but cannot lose. would love to be able to just merge them to my new outlook account so i dont have to continually log into them to keep them.

  3. Interesting, how does this affect things like TechNet/msdn subscriptions, or more importantly for me, my TechNet profile?

    I’ve been working at KU for about 6yrs and plan to continue for as long as they’ll have me, but I’ve amassed a lot of points and achievments and I’d hate to lose those if I were to switch my primary from my (poorly chosen at the time) ku address to my personal address.

  4. Tried it. Works great so far on the desktop! I am keen to see how it works on the phone, as I was having this issue previously:

    Original account email + "send-as" alias
    1. create calendar event on phone under original account
    2. the event is added to my calendar but appears as if created by someone else (the alias), preventing me from editing the event
    3.

  5. I started moving the process of moving over to domains.live.com but the email for my existing Microsoft account is @ my domain. When I tried to create that email as an account it wasn’t happy.
    Any ideas please?

    • @LeiChat – Kalyan has it right. You can’t add an alias to a 2nd account when it is still on another.

  6. How will this affect my SkyDrive storage. I have an old Hotmail.com account that I renamed that have 25g of storage. I also created an Outlook.com, with 7g of SkyDrive storage, I like to have as my primary account name.

    If I add the Outlook.com account as an alias to my renamed Hotmail.com account. Make the Outlook.com my primary and then delete the Hotmail.com name. Will I loss my 25g of SkyDrive storage?

    • You cannot add the already existing outlook.com account as an alias.

    • @Slbailey1 – In your case you have 2 Microsoft accounts – each with one alias. If you want to move the alias from one account to the other, you have to delete the alias, wait 30 days for it to be recycled, and then add it to the other account. In that case you would have to pick which account to use – either the 7 gb or the 25gb account. There is no way to combine the storage.

  7. Will these new features be release to Office365? Managing aliases is a huge problem in the Enterprise when one user has multipple Office365 aliases and identities in different email domains on the same Office365 account.

    • @Justin – This post describes functionality that is part of Microsoft account and Outlook.com. Office365 has a different tool set more focused on organizations.

  8. I also found my existing outlook.com email can’t be used as an alias to my existing hotmail.com account. Those of us early adopters who made a new outlook.com address (and apparently a new Microsoft account) instead of seeing the option to "upgrade" our hotmail.com address have been told to use account links, then when links were taken away to just forward email from the other account to your preferred account. And now we’re told to use aliases, but that doesn’t really work either because my existing outlook.com email can’t be used as an alias to my existing hotmail.com account (and apparently as noted by Cory H the reverse).

    The fact is we simply want to have our single, long established Microsoft account (used with Hotmail/Xbox Live/Office 365/Windows 8/Tech Net/etc) that was originally setup with myname@hotmail.com to be changed to myname@outlook.com (as was done when one "upgraded" from hotmail.com to outlook.com). Is that really so hard to accomplish since this whole issue started over a year ago?

    • 1. Add another alias to your outlook.com account and make it primary.
      2. delete your original outlook.com alias from the account.
      3. After 30 days add the same to your hotmail.com account as an alias
      4. Make it primary.

      • I live in Germany and have an existing @live.com email address, which I want to move to my hotmail.de account. If I would do these steps, I don’t have "live.com" as selection in the dropdown list to create a new email alias and thus I can only create @live.de

    • @Charles – I hear you. We’d like to enable more flexibility to move aliases between accounts. This is a thing we’re working on but it’s not ready yet.

  9. One of the "features"/side effects of aliases up to now was that I could create an alias that could not be used to log into my account. This achieved the goal of having an email that I could use for secondary websites for account verification and the like that did not compromise my security should the website be hacked and my email and password be released to the wild. It allowed me to send and receive using that alias knowing that no one could get to my default account.

    This new change now allows me to log into my entire account using any of these aliases. What then is the meaning of "primary" if any alias now is another vector into my account?

    • @Jake – Primary mostly now indicates some cosmetic things – like the background picture and email address on Windows and Xbox, and the default "from" address in email apps and Outlook.com. Many customers might add an alias and switch to using it and never bother to change it to primary. Other customers may want to more completely "switch" and move to make primary. It’s really up to you.

  10. I just tried switching the primary login from @Hotmail to an existing @outlook alias, but after clicking Make primary I got an error message stating that the operation couldn’t be completed. However, the switch still completed half-way, changing my primary account to @outlook BUT removing my trusty @Hotmail alias as a login alias. So, my Windows Phone can’t reach any Microsoft services until this issue is fixed (and a hard reset is not an option right now).
    Now, on the Outlook.com side of the fence, I do have the @Hotmail address listed as an alias, so there is an inconsistency between what Microsoft Account and Outlook.com think are my aliases. My fear now is that this will be resolved by removing the alias on Outlook.com, which would cause enormous problems for me.
    So, how do I get this inconsistency resolved? I am unable to do it myself by trying to add back the @Hotmail alias back as a login (because of "unspecified errors").
    Any help is appreciated.

    • @David – I’ll have someone reach out to you offline to see if we can figure out what’s happening here.

      • @David Windehem – Belay my previous. We need your permission to reach out to you directly based on the email address on this account. Let us know if that’s ok and we’ll have someone reach out. We want to help figure out what’s going on here. Thanks!

        • Thanks! You can reach me at davidwin at outlook dot com, which is my primary address for the affected account.

          • Thanks David. I’ll have someone reach out early this week.

        • @Eric – Any developments on my Outlook/MS Account inconsistency issue? I haven’t heard back since the initial contact and hope to get this resolved before something more problematic happens to my account.
          Thanks!

  11. I really don’t want to be able to sign in my account with all my aliases. This makes my account less secure. Microsoft should allow users to choose which aliases they can use to sign in their accounts. I really hope that Microsoft considers this and makes a change soon.

  12. @Thanh – Thanks for the feedback. I’ll pass it along to the right part of the team.

  13. @jspatton – Things like MSDN have a secondary profile that is distinct from the profile pic and other info that shows up on your Windows machine, Windows phone, etc.

  14. I like it! As a few other people stated, it’d be nice if there were controls for the various aliases in terms of limiting what they can and can’t be used for.

  15. I like it! As a few other people stated, it’d be nice if there were controls for the various aliases in terms of limiting what they can and can’t be used for

  16. Fraud detector declares Microsoft forums auto-generated emails fraud: i41.tinypic.com/2mi3zo1.png

    Also, when I sign-up for these office blogs, I received an email in Junk folder with "Microsoft SmartScreen marked this message as junk and we’ll delete it after ten days." notice. The sender of email is The Microsoft Office Blog – Automated Email (noreply [at] localhost.com)… localhost!!!

    Please add office365, Windows Team Blog, MSDN, TechNet and other forums/bogs notification email addresses to your white list.

  17. Thanks for the update, Eric. Will similar functionality be available eventually to Live Domain users who transitioned their primary accounts to Outlook.com? Right now, trying rename a Live domain account to an alias still gives this error: "Your organization’s policies prevent you from changing your primary alias."

    • Eric, I have the same issue as Dave. How do I allow users to change their alias?

    • Hi Eric, I also see "Your organization’s policies prevent you from changing your primary alias."

      Will this change for Live Domains users?

  18. my email has been upgraded to outlook and all my mail is gone. How do i get i back?

  19. I’m with Thanh on this. The reason I use aliases is to not distribute my main address to third parties and keep It more secure. Now all of a sudden they can all be used as login and therefor that secure element is lost. While I understand how it can be an improvement for a lot of people, I feel that it is a step backwards myself and I hope it becomes a priority to either undo this or give users a choice.

  20. I agree with Thanh Nguyen and RadiusK. To me the primary function of aliases is to keep my account more secure. I hope Microsoft gives us a choice which aliases (if any) we want to use for signing in and which we don’t.

    • Just thought about something. The primary alias is also shown when you share files via e-mail on SkyDrive. Probably, it would be better to allow people to choose which address to reveal on SkyDrive and other services. Or, maybe, to allow people to use a secondary alias as their only sign-in address while leaving the primary alias as it is. There are lots of things to consider here and I hope the Outlook team takes this issue seriously. Ideally, people should never have to reveal their real e-mail address (including, when they are using any devices or related services like SkyDrive), unless they choose to do this themselves.

  21. I don’t want my account to be accessed from all of my aliases. I use aliases to protect the main account, and multi-alias login nullifies that protection.

    New features and choices don’t always have to come at the expense of old ones. Consider this analogy: When fast-food chains added salads, apple slices, and juice, they did not eliminate burgers, fries, and soft drinks from their menus. They broadened their selection and gave their customers more choices. To do otherwise would have pleased some while alienating others.

    Now, let’s apply the fast-food principle to Outlook.com. “In April, [The Outlook Team] added the ability to sign in with any alias on your account … One of [their] principles is that [they] should adapt to how you want to work, not vice versa.” For Outlook to truly adapt to its users’ needs, it must offer both sides of the coin: the ability to sign in with any alias on your account; and the ability *not* to sign in with any alias on your account. To do otherwise is to cater to the needs of one group while neglecting the other. Instead of adding to the Outlook.com menu, they *changed* the Outlook.com menu; they replaced hamburgers with salads, thereby disenfranchising their loyal hamburger customers. Why not go for the win-win scenario by offering choices and flexibility?

    On a positive note, it is refreshing and encouraging to see the author’s feedback to comments on this post. It makes me feel like my voice will be heard and that my request actually has a chance of materializing. Thank you for your attention!

  22. OK, make us break down the walls between our previously separate persona. Who needs privacy anyway!

    Tell me this, I used to have two hotmail (aka Windows Live aka MSN) accounts to keep business and social contacts apart, and I could chat to both. I now have another "Microsoft" account created when I got Windows8. Why can’t I add my previous hotmail accounts as aliases? I can create a new one, but I can’t use an existing one, with all its attached contacts and email addresses?

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