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I am not a Hotmail subscriber but my daughter is. She downloaded it on my computer when she was home this summer. Now every time I go online it opens that account and her friends want to start chatting thinking I am her. Is there any way I can get Hotmail off of my computer and not mess up her account?

This actually illustrates a very surprising confusion I see regularly on Ask Leo!.

Many people don't realize that Hotmail, MSN Instant Messenger, and even MSN itself are all very different things. They use the terms for one when talking about the other, or use a generic term like "MSN" which could be many different things.

The question above is a good example: the behavior sounds like MSN Instant Messenger, yet the question references Hotmail.

So which is it, really?

Let's start by defining each of those.

Hotmail, originally "HoTMaiL" emphasizing that it was HTML mail, is an online email service. By visiting and logging in with your own account, you can send and receive email. As long as you have a web browser (and if you're reading this, you do), there is nothing to download. Visit Hotmail, login, read and send email. That's pretty much all there is to it.

MSN Instant Messenger is an instant messaging client. It allows you to chat in real time with other people using MSN Instant Messenger, or compatible chat clients. This is a program that you typically download and install in order to use. (Though there are web-based versions of the client, the phrase "MSN Instant Messenger" refers, specifically, to the downloadable program.)

There's further confusion, of course, because there's a compatible, but different, instant messaging program called "Windows Messenger".

"What this question is really referring to is, of course, MSN Instant Messenger."

MSN, short for MicroSoft Network, is a family of services and products created by Microsoft. It begins with its home page,, which is a general internet "portal" - a web site that contains news, features and links to other sites and services. Both Hotmail and MSN Instant Messenger are a part of MSN.

So you can see that when someone asks me "How do I uninstall Hotmail?" - well, the question doesn't really make sense. It's not something that was installed in the first place.

What this question is really referring to is, of course, MSN Instant Messenger. It does support both automatic login, and the ability of friends to see that you are logged in, so that they can start chatting with you.

The answer to that question is either to uninstall it, or perhaps to disable it's auto-login feature. Instructions for uninstalling both Windows and MSN Instant Messenger are in this article: How do I uninstall Windows Messenger?, while disabling auto-start and auto-login are in this article: How do I stop MSN Messenger from starting automatically and logging me in?.

Computers are picky beasts, as you probably realize. Unfortunately that also means that terminology matters in order to get the most accurate assistance possible.

Article C2545 - February 5, 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.

Not what you needed?

February 7, 2006 12:58 AM

Having been unable to get any relevant and useful information from Microsoft about a problem I had with downloading attachments, a quick search yesterday found your great web site and my problem was solved !!

February 9, 2006 9:34 AM

I think you gave a slightly misleading solution here, and that is you gave the "How to uninstall" link before the preferred procedure of disabling auto-login. Because I thought anybody asking a basic question like that is bound to follow your instructions step-by-step :)

The problem maybe that I still don't know how newbies might think even though I was once a newbie!

Leo A. Notenboom
February 9, 2006 9:40 AM

The related links aren't intended to be a step by step anything ... they're simply related. The real intent of the article is to clarify the definitions of things like Messenger, Hotmail and others.

February 27, 2006 6:21 PM

How do I stop MSN Hotmail, not messenger, from starting automatically and logging me in?.

Hazel Ramejkis
March 5, 2006 10:29 AM

I have today installed a Hotmail account. Although I can log in, when I click open account it takes me to a news and interest page and I can't get a compose page or any incoming mail.

I have been tearing my hair out all afternoon so how do I uninstall it Please Thanks

March 12, 2006 1:54 PM

For goodness sake! Don't uninstall anything! Get with it! Go to MSN Instant Messaging & SIGN YOURSELF up with an email address and IM name! Then YOU can chat with your daughter at anytime, & IM w/your friends/family. With your own IM name, her friends won't 'bug' you anymore when you log on. I'm over age 60 & we have "family" chats w/family while traveling the world, (from internet cafes or hotel lobbies). We add each one to the conversation & all chat together, whether in Hawaii, Thailand, Peru, or Oregon. It's way better than a postcard received after getting back home & you know if there are any problems someone has to deal with that a stateside person can help with. Go for it! I can hardly use a computer, but I could figure that one out! Just read everything & follow the instructions!

April 4, 2006 9:42 PM

Leo, maybe try being a milk man, directions for something as uninstalling hot mail is to hard 4 u
ty 4 wasteing my time, what article. you,ve wasted enough of my time

May 23, 2006 11:12 AM

leo,i have a free hotmail account and every time i want to reply to a web page it won't allow me.please help me to delete my account!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kesab Rana
July 29, 2006 1:25 AM

Pls open my hotmail inbox

November 4, 2006 5:58 AM

please help me uninstall hotmail account from my pc

December 4, 2006 10:12 PM

Actual question: I have Messenger, and in Messenger I should be able to click my email's related link to open Hotmail. However, I managed to disable a Windows XP service so that Hotmail won't auto-open thru Messenger. Any idea which service controls that?

January 11, 2007 9:58 AM

I recently a signed up for a hotmail account and know when I open up "explorer" I get a message that reads warning about "secure sites" which I never had before and which is a addition hotmail will not remember my password as I've selected. Any thoughts.
Thanks, Jack

Mr Carroll L Guidry
January 19, 2007 5:44 PM

I do not like the hotmail I want it remove from
my computer. If you don't want something you don't
want to keep it. So tell me how to get it off.
Thanks Mr Guidry

Mr Carroll L Guidry
January 19, 2007 5:45 PM

I do not like the hotmail I want it remove from
my computer. If you don't want something you don't
want to keep it. So tell me how to get it off.
Thanks Mr Guidry

January 29, 2007 8:52 AM

I wish to change my name and loose some undesirables who Ive met over past few years, i want my name to be off of their msn lists, how do i do this please anyone?

Mr Carroll L Guidry
February 6, 2007 6:57 AM

I would like to get hotmail uninstall off my
computer. It not in add or remove but it still
in. Don't like it.
Thank you Mr Guidry

Old Goat
April 12, 2007 2:49 PM

Dear Leo,
All you told me was how to get rid of msn 'messenger' or windows 'messenger'! That's not what I asked you. I asked you 'how do I uninstall or get 'hotmail' off my computer !

April 12, 2007 5:58 PM

Old Goat... you CAN'T "uninstall" Hotmail because Hotmail never installs itself in the first place. Hotmail is a website, not a program. The problem that is causing this IS MSN messenger that presents itself like it's Hotmail. Uninstall MSN messenger and your problems with "Hotmail" should be solved.

May 31, 2007 7:12 PM

I want to use outlook express and hotmail interferes. Get it off of my computor

June 28, 2007 11:32 PM

If You say I have to remove Messenger ,in order to rid my computer ,how do I go about this . Also I do want to keep my msn mail . It was a lot less complicated . Your response will be greatly appreciated . Thank You Leo .

janice harland
December 13, 2007 1:19 PM

my email in hotmail writing is very faint it is only in hotmail the rest of my computer is fine.

janice harland
December 13, 2007 1:21 PM

my email in hotmail writing is very faint but not in any other part of my computer.

Jon Barnard
April 4, 2010 8:31 PM

I want to unstall all windows live components

May 28, 2010 1:27 PM

Hi! I've been uninstalling some things on my computer and I'd like to know if I uninstall MSN will I still be able to use my hotmail/email account?

June 16, 2010 4:25 AM

Whenever I receive a hotmail/email & try to reply, I loose the entire text or body of email that I received. In other words, I get email, I reply, and when I hit "reply", everything that was sent to me is now blank, including my signature. Does anyone know how to resolve this? Sometimes I still get the whole text, most times my reply page goes blank. HELP!

March 17, 2011 7:16 AM

how do I uninstall hotmail. I can't write any letters or reply to them...thinking I might need to delete the program and re-install. Need your opinion and directions.

Please read the article you just commented on. It answers this question.

Lois Martin
June 20, 2011 12:29 PM

In checking out hoymail we got it installedbut we don't want it .How do we get it uninstalled ?

Please read the article you just commented on. Hotmail is not something that is installed on your computer - it's just a website you visit. Don't visit.
December 12, 2011 9:13 PM

I joined Hotmail but do not use it and apparently they are returning mail to my Contacts that has been sent to me on my Netscape site.

December 17, 2011 2:43 PM

Leo, in IE, my Hotmail e-mails don't open nor do the folders. A message just says "loading," but nothing happens. Any idea what the problem is and how to fix it? All works fine in Firefox.

Mark J
December 17, 2011 4:19 PM

The first thing I'd try in that situation would be to clear the browser cache. It solves a multitude of browser problems.
What's a browser cache, how do I "clear" it, and why would I want to?

December 18, 2011 3:39 PM

Thanks, Leo. Did it, but the problem continues. This has been happening for a few weeks. Any other suggestions?

December 18, 2011 4:32 PM

Lot's of times when I have problems like that I'll try another browser. Each of the browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari) renders things differently. Trying another browser will let you know if it is a browser problem.

Sometimes trying another browser is really doing what Mark suggested, as it starts you with a cleared browser cache. But then sometimes it's the program.

Troubleshooting is a matter of narrowing possibilities down. If another browser doesn't do the trick try opening Hotmail on someone else's computer. Then you'll know if it is something on your computer or not!

p allen
December 14, 2012 11:33 AM

I need to uninstall MSN HOT MAIL as it contains 21 Old emails dating back to sept 2010 all american. I try to delete each but not one will delete. Taking up alot of space on Desk Top and annoying. Please help

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