Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Downloading Hotmail messages to your computer is easy - or it's not - depending on your account. I look at some ways to download Hotmail messages, including the one I actually use myself.

How do I move all my Hotmail folders to my computer or external hard drive? Do I have to do each file/email individually? Or is there a way to save them all quickly.

I'm a little reluctant to answer this question. Why? Because it'll continue to make me sound like a broken record:

This is yet another reason not to use or rely on Hotmail for anything important.

It is possible, but it's not officially supported, and things that do work don't work as completely as you might like.

First, if you have a paid Hotmail account, then I suggest you simply configure Outlook Express to download your email. I haven't done this in some time, so I'm not sure whether you'll get any folders other than the inbox. I believe Outlook Express uses a private webmail protocol that might well support folders. One way or another you'll see them or you won't in Outlook Express.

Make sure that you then copy all your Hotmail folders to the personal folders on your machine - simply dragging and dropping the folders or the messages should do.

Now, if like most folks you're using the free version of Hotmail, you're in a more difficult situation.

Outlook Express support for free accounts is being phased out. You can try it, but I wouldn't expect it to work. If it does work, consider yourself very lucky and follow the instructions above for paid accounts. And do it soon, because your ability to read Hotmail in Outlook Express is going away sooner or later.

If that doesn't work, there are third party tools that might let you download your Hotmail inbox into your regular POP3 email client. I'll be honest - I don't trust most of them. Some claim to be free and are not. And in almost all cases, you need to provide your Hotmail user ID and password to a third party. That makes me really uncomfortable and sounds like a great scam for stealing your account.

But if they work, they are a solution. You can use them to download your inbox into your local machine's email program.

"I trust it more than the previously noted similar solutions because it's coming from a source I trust..."

I stumbled onto a similar solution while researching this article that I feel better about. If you run Thunderbird as your email client, there's a webmail extension that allows you to download and send email through your webmail accounts, including Hotmail. It appears to be a fine solution. I trust it more than the previously noted similar solutions because it's coming from a source I trust: mozdev.org. Not that everything there is somehow beyond reproach, but it is public and open to peer and consumer scrutiny and gives me a slightly higher level of confidence that it's at least not some kind of scam.

Regardless of your approach, an important thing to remember is that if you've spent a lot of effort organizing folders and contacts in Hotmail, you may still be seriously out of luck. Many of the solutions here don't address the contact list at all and similarly handle only the inbox. You may be able to download messages by moving them back into your inbox on Hotmail and then downloading, but that's obviously less than ideal.

And finally - I really, really hope you're investigating this as a step on the road to moving your important email away from Hotmail. Or you're at least setting up a backup strategy that you'll adhere to religiously.

If you heard the repeated stories of delivery problems, disappearing folder and contacts, lost accounts and other problems, you'd understand why I sound like a broken record.

Article C2855 - November 27, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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28 Comments
lewis
December 2, 2006 10:13 AM

another option is to use "windows live mail" program that works like outlook express especially for hotmail and is oficially supported although the program may still be a beta , but it works perfectly and syncs with msn messenger as well

David
December 2, 2006 2:22 PM

Hi all.
Just tried the webmail extension on my Hotmail.co.uk and Yahoo.co.uk accounts and it downloaded a few test mails a treat! Works well.
I was previously using another notification program that sits in the tray (notification area) and the icon rotates to notify of new incoming messages. Mails can also be read and sent from within the interface, which might be more useful to some folk, rather than opening the e-mail client. It`s called ePrompter (www.eprompter.com). The interface looks a bit "lego-land" but it works and mail checks can also be scheduled.

hendrix
December 3, 2006 1:40 PM

hey can i please chck mi inbox i neet to print of my stuff

cluek
December 4, 2006 1:39 PM

thank you

cluek
December 4, 2006 1:52 PM

how do i text message?????????

NICOLA
December 18, 2006 7:42 AM

HOW DO I SEND AN EMAIL

YANIRA
December 22, 2006 9:32 PM

NOW DO I DOWNLOAD MY HOTMAIL MESSAGES TO MY COMPUTER

David
December 25, 2006 7:13 AM

Re:
HOW DO I SEND AN EMAIL - NICOLA
NOW DO I DOWNLOAD MY HOTMAIL MESSAGES
TO MY COMPUTER - YANIRA

To send via Hotmail, go to "Write" and just select the Hotmail account from the drop-down menu from the arrow to the right of the "from" box in Thunderbird. You`ve probably got somethng else selected as the default.
To download messages, it just works as normal if you have the extension installed properly. You should have all the acounts available, dropping down from the little arrow in the right of the "Get Mail" box. I`ve tried various combinations of sending/receiving mail on the different accounts and, so far, it seems to work pefectly. Really good extension.

angelo frattali
March 30, 2007 4:58 AM

how do i receive & sent e-mails from my hotmail account from my nokia e61.
I need to know User ID nr, inbox & outbox server?
Thank you

dennis
September 15, 2007 8:14 AM

why does all of my inbox mail do into the delete . i im not recieving any mail except that way since the change over?

nirmal
November 21, 2007 12:44 AM

downdoal hotmail

egzona
November 25, 2007 3:20 AM

i want to download hotmail

amy
April 12, 2008 8:57 PM

again i'm amy,i can download yahoo but i can't download hotmail,so can you help me cause i want help,thank you,have great life,lol buy

Caryl
May 26, 2008 7:13 PM

Leo, Hotmail will no longer honor Outlook Express to view my e-mails. I have to many folders and if I keep it on my account, I've used up all my storage. HELP! I need to store all my folders to my computer and I'm lost. I'm not computer literate so any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. They close down June 30th. Otherwise I only know to do each e-mail separately.

Leo
May 27, 2008 10:12 AM

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

This was actually answered by the article you're commenting
on, as well as several others on the site, including this
one:
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_download_my_windows_live_hotmail_to_my_machine.html

Short answer: Outlook Express will no longer work. You'll
need to upgrade it to something else, or as I've recommended
for years: stop using Hotmail for this kind of thing.

Leo


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steve
June 2, 2008 10:51 PM

thanks for the help. we need more places like this with simple straight answers

kelly olson
June 3, 2008 11:14 PM

why wont my computer let me download hotmail

Richard
August 31, 2008 7:55 AM

I am downloading emails from a free Hotmail account using Nuance PDF Converter Professional (about $60). I have to do it one at a time. (I’m using Internet Explorer). I click on the email I am viewing to bring up the menu, then select ‘Print’. Then I select ‘DocuCom’ as the printer. The next menu allows a file name and whether to create a new PDF or append to an existing one. The web page on the screen at the time you select ‘Print’ is what you get – as a snapshot. Animated GIF’s for instance are not animated after downloading. URL’s can remain active in the PDF document (it’s an option in the Converter). It’s not a ‘folder-at-one-go’, but the end result is worth the clicking.

niamh
November 6, 2008 3:19 PM

hi,
i appeared to get a virus from bebo during the week which i have sorted out wtih avast. however my hotmail wont' open at all on my computer at home now the page keeps tyring to download before timeing out...any help?? it wroks fine in work...

clark
December 28, 2008 10:38 AM

I noticed that you can print a whole page of hotmail e-mails in one pdf file by checking the box near the top of the page and then clicking on the printer icon at the top. That served my purpose for saving messages to my computer.

Clark

M!R0
December 30, 2008 1:57 AM

You can download your hotmail emails to your PC via windows live mail program...it works well, but that saves them on my PC, I didn't find the folder where those emails are kept, but atleast it's a step ahead :)

Nano7
November 17, 2009 11:54 AM

For those that don't use Outlook and want to move their Hotmail emails to their own computer, there is one option that you can use which works with entire folders or individual emails. It's a work around of sorts but here's how....

To Save Entire Folders:
Open the folder you'd like to save and click the little square box at the top left of email window (same box you'd check to indicate all the files for deleting). Once all the emails have a check next to them, click the little printer icon that appears just above where you click Reply (this icon appears to the right of your New | Delete | Mark As | Move to) and it will open a box which will contain all the emails contents in a long list, as well as the printer options window, which opens on top of that box. Close the printer options window, highlight the box content and save it as a Notepad file to a new folder on your computer.

Nano7
November 17, 2009 11:57 AM

To Save Individual Emails:
Go to the folder with the email you wish to save to your computer, check the box next to it and click the small printer icon to the far right of New | Delete | Mark As | Move to. This will open a box with the open contents of the email, as well as opening the printer options window over it. Close the printer options window and highlight the contents of the email and save it with Notepad to the file of your choice on your computer.

donna
December 14, 2009 2:57 PM

I have to say, excellent advice and commentary! Thank you so much, the PDF tip was a life saver.

jake
March 2, 2010 12:52 AM

my computer thinks that i have an older version of msn but i don't and it wont let me log in wat can i do.

Juzt Eazy
July 6, 2010 8:27 AM

Hey Leo I read you knocking Hotmail (that went out along time ago). What about gmail you can't even download them you have to print. Hotmail is by far the most versatile email on the planet. Read the post your viewers will teach you how to.

I don't understand your point about GMail. I download them all the time. Hotmail may be versatile, but my readers tell me about more problems with it than any other service.
Leo
07-Jul-2010

Boz
October 14, 2010 12:44 PM

After you've save your Hotmail emails using the "save to file" method, how do you read? When I try to open them using Hotmail, nothing happens and when I try to open them using Note Pad, Word, Acrobat all I get is code?

Robert
December 16, 2011 3:33 AM

Hi Leo!
mozilla's Thunderbird worked nice for me and I have a hotmail account! My problem was I could not save emails and through the years I could not get anything to connect to hotmail correctly in order to download the emails properly.
This had gotten out of control over 19000 emails in my inbox and needing 300 or 400 hundred of them makes it tough. I've been thinking for years just dump them on a disk to look through at my leisure. I have a degree in computers also been using them since 1982.
(I use windows 7) Had no problems with hotmail as long as you follow the minimum usage guidelines pretty much a use it or lose it policy. (Your account must be used at least once a month or things could vanish)
(Also tried Outlook not compatible, and windows live which was buggy and sloooooowwww!!!!!!)
Thanks Leo!

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