Customize Windows Live Hotmail: Part 1

Over the years I have used just about every email client there is, some out of curiosity, but I was always searching for one that was right for me. I think the first one I used in Windows was Outlook Express, which came bundled with Internet Explorer. I tried others, like Eudora, Netscape mail (remember those names from the past?) and many others I have long forgotten about.

Now I have used Windows Live Hotmail for years. Since December 23rd, 2001, to be exact. That’s 10 years now!

While many may use Hotmail (I am here referring to the Web version, not Windows Live Mail, which is part of Windows Live Essentials and needs to be installed on your PC) not all have explored its various features and how it can be personalized to help keep you organized and efficient in handling not only your Hotmail account, but other email accounts as well.
This series will look at several different ways to customize Hotmail; Part 1 will look at automatically sorting email into folders.

Sort it!

Do you have all your email in your Inbox? Tired of searching through hundreds of emails to find that recipe or photograph your friend sent you, or an invoice for something you purchased online? Then you need to take advantage of Hotmail’s sorting feature.

First of all, you need to create some folders to sort emails into. This is easily done by clicking on the sunburst icon next to Folders in Hotmail located in the left column, then click ‘Add a new folder’:

Create a new folder in Hotmail

On the next screen, you give the folder a name, such as Friends, for instance, then tell Hotmail whether this is to be a top level folder (directly under Inbox), or a sub folder under another folder, such as Personal, or in my case, James. Now that you have a Friends folder, you can drag all emails from your friends into that folder. Use the sorting options at the top of the email column if necessary (from Contacts, Arrange by, etc).

Now, let’s create a rule to automatically have email from a friend (say Jane Doe) automatically go into the Friends folder instead of the Inbox. At the very top right of the Hotmail page, you will see your name, and under it, a link titled Options. Click on it and select More options….

More options for Hotmail

Now you will see the main Hotmail options page:

Hotmail Options Page

Now click on “Rules for sorting new messages” highlighted above. On the next window, click on New and the Create Rule page appears. In step 1, enter the email address of Jane Doe, then in step 2, enter the action to be taken. In this case, we want Jane’s emails to go right into the Friends folder, so beside ‘Move to Inbox” click on the little arrow and select the Friends folder, then click the Save button. Done!

Now you can create other folders as required and create rules for any email addresses you want to go into them instead of the Inbox. I have ones for Invoices, eBay, Web site, Forums and so on. Make it a goal to get your Inbox organized today!

Part 2 of this series will consider another little-known feature of Hotmail…subscribe to the WindowsTalk newsletter to get  notifications of all new posts including giveaways and contests.