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

If you're finding unrecognized and adult entries in Hotmail's auto-complete, there's a good chance that you have Messenger invitations that you don't know about.

When I create a new message and start typing in the To line, Hotmail suggests some email addresses that I know, but several that I don't know and - to be honest - are very embarrassing as they're often adult in nature - sometimes VERY much so. It kind of implies that I've contacted these people before, but there's no way!

Why are they showing, where did they come from, and most importantly, how do I get rid of them?

I've heard this one a lot in recent months and I was never able to figure out what was going on.

All of the credit for this goes to Elizabeth, one of my readers, who first asked the question; when I didn't know the answer, she came back to me a few days later with the explanation.

We now know where they came from, and even better, how to get rid of them and make sure that they don't come back.

Auto-complete

Auto-complete is pretty straightforward. When you type an email address or name into an address field as you compose a message, Hotmail automatically displays a list of addresses that are supposedly either in your address book or from people whom you've corresponded with before.

Windows Live Hotmail auto complete

The idea is that you can click on the entry that you want once you see it rather than typing out the rest of the email address.

Questionable auto-complete

Sometimes, you might find auto-complete suggestions that are troubling, to say the least:

Windows Live Hotmail auto complete - with 'questionable' suggestions

That's from my own Hotmail account, and I have no idea how it got there.

Honest.

And I can understand how some might find that embarrassing if someone were looking over your shoulder as you're typing.

The clue: invitations

The clue turned out to be Windows Live Messenger invitations. A little way down the left side of the screen, you'll probably see something like this:

Windows Live Messenger invitation count

Have the kids leave the room before you click on that.

I had 24 friend requests and seven group invitations. Yes, the count on the Hotmail screen was wrong, so check it even if it says zero.

And sure enough, down in the group invitations:

A questionable invitation to join a Windows Live Messenger group

Uh, No, thanks.

And that was one of the tamer ones. Many others had pictures.

Prevention

At the top of the Invitations list is a "Change your invitation settings" link:

Windows Live Hotmail Invitation settings link

Click on that.

The result is the Privacy Options page:

Windows Live Hotmail privacy options

I'm willing to guess that your privacy settings are a little less restrictive than you might want.

You can examine the options on that page, but I simply chose to lock it down:

Windows Live Hotmail privacy settings, private selection

My friends can find me in search, view my profile, and see my status. Some friends (those that I haven't specifically marked with limited access) can see my contact information and see new photo albums that I create, but no one can send me friend invitations.

I'll deal with friending myself, thank you very much.

Cleaning Up

Now, about those existing invitations.

Unfortunately, I haven't found an easy way to deal with the accumulation of invitations other than to simply go back to that Invitations list and click No, thanks on each invitation.

When you do so, Hotmail will display "You didn't add {name} as a friend. Don't know this person? Let us Know." where "Let us Know" is a link to report the situation. My expectation is that if enough people click on that for a specific invite, then that account could eventually be closed.

No, Thanks

But I don't use Messenger!

Well ... yes, you do.

If you have a Hotmail account, you have a Windows Live account. And if you have a Windows Live account, you have a Windows Live Messenger account.

Whether or not you ever use the program.

Regardless of how you got it - Hotmail, Messenger, or something else - what you really have is a Windows Live account that can be used for any of the Windows Live services that Microsoft provides.

Thanks again to Elizabeth who I think just saved a lot of people from some very embarrassing situations.

Article C4998 - November 30, 2011 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
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.

Not what you needed?

5 Comments
Diana
November 30, 2011 6:06 PM

LOL, no one can see 'me friend' invitations? Doesn't that sound a little 'not right' in proper speaking? if I saw that I would question if I was on a legitimate site. If it said 'my friend' it would be different.

Actually, it's correct. No one can send me friend invitations. Friend invitations cannot be sent to me.
Leo
01-Dec-2011

Billy Bob
December 1, 2011 7:14 PM

I can't stand using services that allow scammers, spammers, and porn-mongers to proliferate, and I don't think I'm alone on that. Microsoft better get on the ball with this or their little "Live" suite, including Hotmail, Messenger, and Bing, is going to fail.

Don't believe me?

Exhibit A: AOL--once the dominant internet player, down the toilet. I say it's because they allowed spammers to run amok so badly.

Exhibit B: eBay--once a powerhouse, now they're being trounced by Amazon. I say it's because they were overrun with scammers until nobody could trust the site anymore.

Exhibit C: MySpace--IMO, they were abandoned because people were tired of "punch the monkey and win a free laptop" ads, friend requests from porn-mongers, and similar scams.

Bottom line--keeping all this crap off your site might cost you a little bit in ad revenue this quarter, but it will help your site survive into the future. The public won't tolerate too much crap for too long.

And that's the end of my rant of the day. :-)

Glenn P.
December 6, 2011 9:48 AM

This is for Billy Bob --

I beg to differ; eBay is still going strong. I am a loyal Amazon customer tried and true (and in Prime, no less!) with many hundreds of dollars in sales to my credit there -- but there are just some things that Amazon doesn't have, or will never be suited for selling; and for those, eBay is ideal. You cannot (for example) get old Tom Swift Jr. picture-cover books on Amazon for anything resembling a reasonable price. For that, you need the auction  site -- eBay.   :)

As you might guess, I'm an equally heavy user of eBay -- look for my User I.D. there: Fantasmo.   :)

OMG! Tom Swift Jr!! (Read those as I grew up. I still want a repelatron....)
Leo
06-Dec-2011
Glenn P.
December 7, 2011 5:13 AM

I have the complete collection, all 33 of 'em, Leo. All the way up to, and including, The Galaxy Ghosts. Although, I'm trying to trade my "dust jackets" for picture covers now -- and now have only four "low numbers"* to go! :)

*(i.e., each book has a number, starting with His Flying Lab, which is #1...)

Jay B
December 16, 2011 3:17 PM

Leo,
You may want to add information for those who do not have any friend invitations, yes there are some people in the world who do not have invitations and who want to keep it that way.
Those who do not have any friend invitations can get to the Privacy Options by hovering over the word Messenger at the top of the page and selecting Contacts from the box that pops up. On the Contacts page select View Invitations from the menu on the right side of the page. This will bring up the Invitations page as shown in the Prevention section of your article.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.