Over the last 9 months or so, Microsoft has been revamping, upgrading and improving their Windows Live Mail services and it’s now very competitive with both Yahoo and Gmail as far as being able to pull all your different email accounts together in one place. Even POP accounts can now be added to Windows Live Mail.
POP accounts are the ones most have if you’re using the ‘traditional’ desktop client, such as Outlook, Outlook Express or Thunderbird. Then, if you’re away on vacation, business trip or just at work, you’re disconnected from your email unless you’ve learned how to access your mail via the web. I’ve found that to be a tedious process.For those of us with multiple email accounts, that also means going to multiple web pages to check mail.
With Live Mail, you now have the ability to aggregate all your mail accounts into one handy place. That means you only have to go one place to check your email which means fewer passwords to remember and enter. I realize you can do this with GMail & Yahoo, but that’s another column.
One of the greatest challenges for a VA (Virtual Assistant), is finding and figuring out which collaboration tool to use most efficiently with our clients. Many of us are asked to check client Outlook email accounts and need the ability to respond to inquiries on their behalf. With this upgrade of Windows Live Mail, it’s now possible to add up to 4 POP accounts.
I always like to try things out on myself before a client, so I added in an account from our family computer. I must confess, I was quite elated when the emails started appearing in my live account.
So – how do we make this magic happen? First, you’ll need a windows live or hotmail account. After that’s set up, then you’ll see the ‘add another email account’ button from your In-box on the left-hand side. Click the link and you’ll be taken to a box where you’ll need to fill out this information:
Of course, you’ll need the POP settings of the email you are wanting to add in. An important consideration is whether to leave email on the server or not. I found if I didn’t, my external account showed up only in my live account, not in both Live and Outlook. I wanted to be able to view mail from both accounts. Do realize that this will also leave a copy on your ISP’s severs too. For my ISP, I was able to check a box for them to notify me when it was 70% to capacity. Some ISPs allow you to save messages for a certain period of time on the server. Also realize that you’ll have to do double duty in your mailbox maintenance. For example, emails I delete in Outlook on one computer are not deleted on my live mail on the other computer.
If you have Outlook 2003 or 2007, I strongly urge you to download and install the free Microsoft Outlook Connector. After it’s installed, it will prompt you through a few simple steps to set up your Outlook to be synced with your Live Mail, Contacts & Calendar. Note – the calendar is a 1-way sync from Live to Outlook.
Designate A Separate Folder for Email
When I first set the account up, I told it to bring all the mail right into my inbox. A few hours later, I realized I wanted them to go into a separate folder. To do this, go to options and more options to the manage your account screen.
Click on the send and receive from other accounts and then click on edit your account, there is a ‘next’ button at the bottom of the page, click that and then you’ll see the screen below where you can edit your account and set up a folder for the external account mail to go into.
Change your Reply-to Address
This is a handy feature for VAs to use as it enables us to reply on behalf of our clients. A word of warning here though – the email will say it’s being sent ‘on behalf of’ and will have your live email address listed in the ‘from’ box as well. Unfortunately, it looks like that’s the way it is now. Many of us don’t like this as it doesn’t present quite the image we’d like.
- You can use Outlook Connector only if your Windows Live ID (The e-mail address and password that you use to sign in to Windows Live programs and services such as Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger; Microsoft services such as Xbox LIVE, MSN, and Office Live; and anywhere else that you see the Windows Live ID logo.) is a Hotmail account. You can’t use Outlook Connector if you signed up for Windows Live using another e-mail address.
- Custom Signature – limited to one signature – this is a downgrade from Outlook where multiple signatures can be set up and applied as needed.
- Offline Availability – you can work offline, but only if you also are using Outlook and the Outlook Connector. The ability is there to compose and read emails already downloaded and the next time you’re on-line everything will sync up and go.
- Distribution Lists – these are called categories in Live Mail. Go to contacts (people), and click on ‘manage categories’. From there you can set up or revise your lists. Just start typing in a name and it’ll appear.
- Sort Into Folders – this is taking place of Outlook’s more robust ‘Rules’ settings. I’m currently not using this feature
- Spam Filter/Blocked & Safe Sender Lists – this is also similar to what is offered in Outlook
- Forward email to another account & Vacation Settings
- Add a Gmail or Yahoo account (Yahoo account must be the premium), here are instructions
- Context sensitive help. If you’re in mail and click on a help button, you will be taken to an area where you can type in your mail related questions. I was able to find answers to all my questions. I do observe that it seems like there are so many help sites that it is overwhelming to get to the right one sometimes. When I feel I’m in a maze, I will do a Google or Bing search and that works very well.
Ready to Go Totally to a Web Based Email?
I’m not ready to give up my Outlook. I have it set up with four email accounts coming in and I’m comfortable with the interface and the many options. For example, I like being able to set a future delivery date for an email and having multiple signatures to name two.
There’s also the issue of backing up the Windows Live Mail. I searched this topic in Microsoft and was give this link that instructs how to backup mail, calendars and contacts. However, I could only follow the instructions for backing up contacts. I never did find a ‘Tools’ menu choice to click to start the process.
Since I use Outlook, I backup my Windows Live Mail using the handy .pst backup tool instead – another reason to keep Outlook.
I do enjoy being able to get to my Live mail from a browser and the user interface is easier and prettier than either Gmail or Yahoo Mail. It’s super easy to change the theme and colors for a variety.
Links to other reading
Lifehacker’s article on many email types and services
freeware for live mail backup (although it said freeware, there is a charge)
What’s worked for you and do you have anything to share or add to this? Thanks.