Originally published in March, 2013 and updated/refreshed for today
If you have a domain for a blog, website or just because you thought the name was cool, then you may have thought about getting email attached to that domain. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a FREE email service AND look professionally branded? An email that has a great calendar, contacts, to do list and even free 7 GB of storage that comes with it? You know I’m talking about Outlook.com from Microsoft, don’t you? I know and love to talk about the 7 GB of free storage, the anywhere access and all of that, but this is about using the newly improved Outlook.com and attaching your domain to it – all for free.
If you were a former user of Google’s free email domain service, you’ll know that it closed down a year or so ago. So this is a great, free alternative to that service.
I have several domains, my business email that I use with the great and powerful Office 365. But I was also lucky enough to snag my name as a domain www.lynndaug2016.dev. I used to have this domain attached to Microsoft’s Business Office Live service, but it was closed down a year or so ago. So my lynndye email was switched over to Hover, a great domain registrar. Shortly after I added email with them, I was trying to put something on my calendar and found out that calendar doesn’t come with Hover – wow – was I disappointed at not having a calendar for this account. So for the last year, I folded my lynndye email account into outlook.com as an extra account I could check. I also added it into my Outlook 2013 email client.
Get Your Domain in Outlook.com
It was time to go through the steps to claim my free, professionally branded email from Microsoft. So I ‘binged’ around and found several good sources with instructions on how to accomplish this. I used two external sources in addition to Microsoft resources. One is mentioned next and the other will be at the end of the article. The most detailed instructions I found and used were from Syed Balkhi and the editorial staff at wpbeginner, a great resource for WordPress users. Since I used this site, I’m not going to go through the same steps they did, instead just click the link and walk yourself through their steps whenever you’re ready. I’m going to go through it a bit differently.
First, you’ll need to go to http://domains.live.com to get started.
You will need to have access to wherever your domain is registered because you’ll be logging in to add MX Records, txt records and CNAME records in order for everything to work correctly. They will need to be entered in a certain order with some stops along the way to make sure things have propagated through the internet. When everything is set up, you’ll be verifying to Microsoft that you indeed own the domain. You’ll be telling your current domain registrar that you are changing where your mail will be sent, or that you are setting up mail for the first time.
Although I’ve worked some with mail settings, I’m not a pro by any means and I probably wouldn’t try this with a client’s mail, but since it was my own, I’ll experiment! Since I had mail service at hover, when I logged in, I first took a screenshot of my current settings (in case I did a lot of damage and needed to revert back). Then I deleted all the current settings and using the instructions from Microsoft and also referring to the wpbeginner directions, I entered in quite a few records. I have a snapshot below of the types of records I set up. Hover’s dashboard was pretty easy to use and I could have called them if I needed help, they have great customer service.
After waiting only 10 minutes or so, I went back to the Microsoft site to see if my account was ‘live’ and indeed it was!
When I clicked on my domain, it brought up the screen below where I could start adding email addresses. I can add up to 500 for this domain and all for free. I’d have the ability to manage all of them. If you have a business and are on a budget, this could save you some money. I noticed the reporting link (image below on the left) where the domain manager can see how much space is being used, how many mail accounts there are and more than one domain can be managed and accessed from here.
My Free Outlook.com Domain Email is Working
Now, I can easily sign into my mail on the web and get to my email, calendar, contacts and of course my SkyDrive. I’ve also added my custom domain email into my Outlook 2013 desktop client, so I can access my mail from there. It was a bit tricky adding this account because it wanted a server setting, Outlook didn’t just find it and install it on its own. I was lucky because I have a Windows Phone 8 and I looked at my previous settings for this account on the phone and used that server setting in Outlook and wonder of wonders, it worked. Otherwise, I’d probably gone to the Microsoft help area to ask about it.
So if you have a custom domain, try this out. Microsoft has really put a lot of thought and effort into the new Outlook.com If Microsoft decides to discontinue this service, they do have a history of letting customers/consumers know in advance so they can make other arrangements. Here’s another resource I used from Digital Inspiration.
So leave me a comment – do you think you’ll want to try this out?
Added on May 29, 2013: I’m an Outlook.com Insider, ask me about Outlook.com or click to learn more about the Outlook.com Insiders program.