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Ad choices in Hotmail only lets Hotmail know that you don't want to be tracked for targeted advertising. Can you get rid of those ads? Well...

My wife and I both use Hotmail. On my wife's account, she's suddenly receiving Microsoft advertising on her email. She went to Ad choices to learn more about ads and she chose to opt out, but she's still getting those annoying ads. On my Hotmail account, I do not have this problem. Can you help?

In this excerpt from Answercast #29, I look at why free email services place advertising on their websites and what (if anything) you can do about it.

Hotmail advertisements

You're not going to like my answer.

  • The problem I see here is that you're not getting ads.

Hotmail is free. Advertising is one of the ways that Hotmail pays for itself. I would expect you to eventually get ads if not already have them.

Ad choice options

When you opt out, what you're opting out of is not getting ads:

  • What you're opting out of are having the ad networks tracking your behavior across their network.

So you're still going to get ads. They're just not going to keep as much information about you or your computer (or how you use your computer) to get you, perhaps, more targeted ads – ads that are more relevant to you specifically and what you do.

There is no opting out of advertising in Hotmail.

Free emails rely on advertising

Like I said, it's true for Hotmail, for Google mail, and for Yahoo mail.

Basically, all of the free email services rely on advertising as their way to make money, so they can actually provide you the service for free.

  • You're gonna get ads!

Avoiding online advertising

If you don't want to get ads, your choices are actually very limited. You're going to have to go find an email provider – whom you will probably end up having to pay – in order to not have them provide ads.

The only other approach that I'm aware of (that may work for awhile) is to use Hotmail's POP3 access. So, rather than accessing Hotmail via the web (via using your browser by going to, you would use a program like Thunderbird or Outlook, configure it to download, and send to-and-from your Hotmail account.

Currently, I'm not aware of them actually adding advertisements to those messages. However, it would not in the least surprise me if at some point they did, because, like I said again, advertising is how they make money.

It's the only reason they're able to provide the service for free at all. If enough people start using technologies like POP3 (that might currently not have advertising injected), you can pretty much bet they're going to figure out a way how to inject advertising there, so as to continue to be able to support the service.

End of Answercast #29 Back to – Audio Segment

Article C5516 - June 25, 2012 « »

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?

June 26, 2012 10:32 AM

Funny I would read this just as I clicked on a hotmail ad's [x] to remove it (it was an ad for a political party). As I clicked on it, a message from hotmail popped up saying that if I pay for an upgraded version of Hotmail, I won't get these ads anymore. What upsets me is that they are ads for a political party I am not happy with, and it seems that is the only ad that I get. Wonder if Hotmail knows this and is placing that ad so I give up and upgrade! (no - they wouldn't do that would they?)

June 26, 2012 7:15 PM

What I have done is to use my HOSTS file. Once I find the ad server, I add it to the HOSTS file: (for example).

So at the sides of my Yahoo! mail, I usually get a partially obscured "Unable to connect" message, but that's better than seeing ads to meet singles.

I do this for other websites that I frequent regularly, too, but only if the ads are annoying. Otherwise it's not worth the effort to track down the ad server.

Fortunately, Leo's ads are never annoying, so I've never bothered to figure out the ad server he uses.

June 28, 2012 8:32 AM

Adverts are here to stay.
Where a company operates software AND websites, expect the shift from adverts in the website (which you can block) to adverts in the client (which you can't). Several companies that run 'chat' software already go this route.

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