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Web page mail links start the default mail program. If that's Hotmail you'll need to login. If you don't use Hotmail, you'll need to do something else.

When I am at a site and want to email them I click on the 'contact us' link. The page that pops up is some kind of "passport password required" message. I get it when I'm on my computer, library computers, & other computers. How can I email them without this?

The computer you're using is set to use Hotmail as its default mail program. Passport is (or was) the mechanism to login to a Hotmail account. In order to send the email that you indicated you want to send, you need to login to your Hotmail account to do so.

Even as Hotmail transitions to Windows Live Mail, and the login screen looks less like Passport and more like something else, the fact is there's still a login screen.

What if that's not what you were expecting? What if you don't use Hotmail?

The link you clicked on is called a "mailto" link. It's a way that web pages can encode an address to make it easy for you to send email without having to type that address in by hand. Here's an example:

click to send email to a bogus address

(I use a bogus address because email addresses encoded this way are harvested by spammers. That address will now start getting spam.)

If you click on that link your default mail program should start, and it will open a compose window with the "To:" line already filled in with "".

If your system is configured to use Hotmail or Windows Live Mail as your default mail program, then you'll most likely need to login first. That's where the Passport or other login screen comes from. Once you login to your Hotmail account you should be taken to a compose window with that same "To:" line already filled in.

Since that's not what you were expecting, you're probably not using Hotmail. I see two scenarios you need to be concerned about.

"In order to send the email that you indicated you want to send, you need to login to your Hotmail account to do so."

Your own machine

The "default mail program" is just a setting, and on your own machine you should simply change that to be whatever mail program you do use. This article covers how to do so: How do I change the "mailto:" or default mail program?

Once you make that change, clicking on a mailto or "contact us" link using mailto should open the mail program you expect.

Someone else's machine

To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what you would expect to have happen here. Once again, I see two possibilities:

  • If you don't use web-based email ... well, this is someone else's machine, so your email program simply won't be here. You'll need to find a different way to send your email. Typically that means either temporarily using web-based email, like Hotmail, so the Passport or login screen is totally expected, or saving the email address and sending your email later from your own machine.

  • If you do use web-based email, then even though you could use it, you should think twice about using it on someone else's machine anyway. Depending on your level of trust, they could have spyware or worse to intercept your login ID and password. In any case, you'll need to save the email address that you're wanting to send to. If you do want to login to your own web-based email, then do so and compose your message as you normally would by typing or pasting that email address into the "To:" line by hand.

Capturing the email address

The one piece that's missing so far is how to get the email address that might be behind that "contact us" link without clicking on it and getting some email program you don't know or want.

Right click on it, and select "Copy Shortcut", "Copy Link Location", or whatever equivalent your browser provides.

If you want to send mail, fire up your mail program, compose a new message and click in the "To:" line, and hit paste. You'll see something line this get inserted:

You'll need to manually delete the "mailto:" part of that, and you're good to go.

If you'd rather not send mail, but just want to know what the link was, then open notepad instead and paste into there. You'll see the same text and you can record the email address that's referenced.

Article C3161 - September 27, 2007 « »

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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?

September 29, 2007 6:18 AM

maybe this also helps for those looking to disable that annoying pop-up login in box, esp when it repeatly and without reason goes off, i asked you once and was the reason i subscribed to your excellent newsletter,Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Folders\Msonsext.dll- rename msonsext.dll to old or something else and the pop up disappears for good and with no other consequence

dave benham
October 10, 2007 7:16 PM

I do not use MS Outlook for email at all, only the web based email. Receiving
and sending email works fine. The problem I have is that if I select an
embedded email link from a webpage, I am asked to login in, then a window is
opened in and I get the following message:
Fatal Login Error. hr = 80041035, f = -2147217355
My expectation is that an email message window will open with the linked
address as the recipient.

April 9, 2008 2:53 PM

problem is not being able to send some emails,with out getting fatal error message from passport login area.forgotten usner name / password.

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