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An Outlook.com email address does not come automatically, just because you have a Hotmail or Live account. It's just an interface unless you create a new email address.

I tried Outlook.com using an existing @live.co.uk. It setup OK, sent a test message - all OK, but how do I get back to my Outlook.com email address setup? There is no icon and the email address still exists in @live.co.uk. Is this more of Microsoft not thoroughly checking before inviting the public to tear their hair out?

In this excerpt from Answercast #45, I look at the steps necessary to create an Outlook.com email rather than just use the Outlook.com user interface.

Getting an outlook.com email

No, it's more like Microsoft not being clear, once again, about exactly what it is their product offering is, and most importantly, is not.

If you have an existing Hotmail account (be it Hotmail.co.uk or Hotmail.com, or Live.com or any of a number of different Microsoft supported email addresses), what happens when you log into Outlook.com is:

  • You do not get a new email address.

  • Your email address stays exactly the same.

  • What you get is the new Outlook.com user interface.

It's the new way to interact with your email address. So what you can do then is decide whether or not you like that interface for your email.

Switch back to Hotmail

If you don't, then up at the upper right, there's a gear icon; and underneath the menu that pops down – if you click on that, is an option to go back to Hotmail.com (or wherever it was you previously had the user interface for your email).

Only the user interface changes

But again, nothing about your email address actually changes.

  • You're still sending email from the old address;

  • And you are receiving email at the old address.

  • It's just how you look at it.

It's a question of: What is the user interface that you're going to be using when you login on the web?

Get a new Outlook.com email address

If you actually want a new Outlook.com email address, you actually have two options.

You can set up a new Outlook.com email address – simply the same way you would setup a new Hotmail.com email address. That being:

  • Log out (sign out).
  • And then go to Outlook.com.
  • Instead of logging in, use the Create New Account link.

That then will create a completely new account (completely unrelated to your other accounts) that is at this new Outlook.com email address.

Emails are not reserved

You may find that your email address at Hotmail.com or at Live.com has already been taken by somebody else at Outlook.com.

It's just another email address and other people could in fact be getting the email address that you normally considered to be "yours" at Outlook.com before you choose to go there. For example, the very first thing I did when I got to Outlook.com was to see if Leo@outlook.com was available.

Not surprisingly, it was not. First names are usually the first thing to go.

Add an alias

The other option you have is:

  • When you are logged in to your normal email address (your Live or your Hotmail email address, using the Outlook.com user interface);
  • There is the option to add what they call an alias.

That can be another email address at Outlook.com.

  • That then shows up when you login to your regular old Hotmail.com or Live.com email address using the Outlook.com user interface.

Like I said, it's kind of complicated. I really wish Microsoft had done a better job of documenting and clarifying exactly what it is that happens when Outlook.com and your previous email addresses interact. But that's what it boils down to.

So, again, to summarize:

Using Outlook.com to view your existing email does not give you a new email address:

  • You do not get a new email address at Outlook.com.

  • All you're doing is viewing your existing email (at your existing email address) using the new Outlook.com user interface.

If you want an actual Outlook.com email address (in addition to your previous email address, whatever it might be), then:

  • You need to either create a new account at Outlook.com; which is completely separate from your other email addresses;

  • Or you can do this alias thing that they offer when you are logged into Outlook.com using your old email address.

Article C5708 - August 18, 2012 « »

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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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6 Comments
Strydrdenis
August 21, 2012 10:28 AM

I found that after creating my new @Outlook.com address Outlook gave me the option of keeping my old addresses like Hotmail & Live. When I agreed to that it setup my old addresses as a folder in my Outlook.com email account. So I now go to Outlook.com and login and have access to all my old aliases. It's great. I think Microsoft did a great job and that's coming from a person who is all Google. Documentation could be better.

Paul Davies
August 21, 2012 11:43 AM

Initially this might seem to be a little off-topic, but please read on ... I have read articles (and at least one on the excellent ask-leo) about the strength of passwords. This obviously includes the length of the password.

I decided to use outlook.com from my old hotmail address, and I got the following friendly message:
"Your Hotmail has been upgraded to Outlook.com
Don’t worry. Your email address, password, emails, contacts and files remain the same."

But at the log-in, I also got the following message:
"Microsoft account passwords can contain up to 16 characters. If you've been using a password that has more than 16 characters, enter the first 16."

This is what I would describe as "yet another Microsoftism". I'm sorry, but for me but this is just another reason why I think I was right to transfer to gmail.

Domenic Cocozza
August 22, 2012 1:40 AM

At msn's invitation I switched to outlook setting up a new address. I did not like it and some of the functions did not work. I used the drop down menu to return to Hotmail, all ok. My son was home signed me out of Hotmail to sign himself in and from that day on I could not sign in to hotmail. I tried my new outlook address and could sign in but my contacts were all missing as were my folders. I had to use 'Just Answer' to find my Hotmail account for me who managed after many attempts over approximately a week. I have always had my Hotmail forwarded to my BT address and all through this crisis it continued to do so even when I couldnt engage with Hotmail. Now all my nail is still being forwarded to Bt but some of it is not appearing on my Hotmail Page. What a monumental cock up. Domenic

connie
August 22, 2012 8:31 AM

@Domenic,
It sounds like your son logging in might have made the browser's auto-remember store his details instead of yours. More than likely you are doing your username or password wrong as a result. You may also need to try a password recovery if you can't remember the password exactly.

shavel
October 9, 2012 6:05 AM

my old outlook email no longer works,i have a new gmail email address how can i link my old outlook email address to the gmail email address so that i can stay in tuch with my old contacts

cruelas
November 11, 2012 12:38 PM

Yay! I was happy to find that my preferred name wasn't yet taken @ outlook.com :). Thanks for the heads-up Leo.

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