We assume that you've already setup an msn.com, live.com, outlook.com, or hotmail.com email address. If not, register for a new account, completely free: see how quick and easy the sign up process is at our "Create Hotmail Account" tutorial; it also explains how to get an email address for to your country (where available) to increase your chances of finding an available user name.
To login to your MSN Hotmail / Outlook account, type "
hotmail.com" or "
outlook.com" in your web browser's address bar and hit Enter: both Microsoft domains will redirect you to the correct page:
Tip: you should see a blank sign-in form. If you land inside another user's inbox, click on the username and photo in the top right corner. Choose "Sign out", then start over.
Type your email address in the first field: username, "@" symbol, and domain (hotmail.com, hotmail.co.uk, live.com, outlook.com...) Then hit the Tab key to go to the next field, and enter your password.
Note that your password is "case sensitive": this means that uppercase and lowercase characters are considered different. A wrong capitalization will lead to the "That password is incorrect. Be sure you're using the password for your Microsoft account" error message. (Carefully retype it and hit Enter.)
Click on the "Next" button below to see when you should use or avoid the "remember me" option. If you want to login without staying signed into the service, just click on the Sign in button.
Side info: the blank sign-in form reads "Microsoft Account" because with it, you can login to many Microsoft services - Hotmail / Outlook.com, SkyDrive (online documents), Skype (video chat), Xbox live, and Bing. In Windows 8, you can even use a Microsoft account to logon to your PC, which will synchronize all your data across computers and devices! This used to be called a "Windows Live ID", and the name change implies that you can use it to log into Windows 8.
The "Keep me signed in" checkbox is always unchecked by default, for security reasons. If checked (option enabled), this setting lets you to conveniently stay logged into Hotmail on this computer, laptop, or mobile device: a "cookie" is created in the cache of the web browser you are using, so only the current browser is affected. (That's a trick you can leverage to login to multiple Hotmail accounts from the same computer: no need to sign in / sign out to switch user!)
With that option enabled, you will always be automatically redirected to your inbox, hassle-free! You can check the same Hotmail account from multiple computers, and use that setting on all of them.
Caveat: While it is safe to use the automatic login option from your own PC, never select it from public computers (library, school, work, internet cafes or hotels in a foreign country, etc.) Otherwise, anyone accessing hotmail.com in the browser will be able to see your inbox!
Regardless of the setting chosen when you logged in, Hotmail will automatically logout after a few weeks, or when you clear your cookies (whichever occurs first). This safety measure prevents access to your account to anyone who might still be able to view your emails from a different PC where you signed in with the "remember me" option. You don't need to logout of Hotmail if you don't want to force the blank sign-in form to show next time someone accesses Hotmail.com / Outlook.com.
Tip: to make all browsers "forget you", just change your password. This automatically flushes everyone out of the account the next time they try to login. And regularly changing your password is actually a good idea if you often check your emails from public computers.
A manual sign-out also erases the "Keep me signed in" option from that particular web browser: from the user menu in the top right corner, select "Sign out". Hotmail will, in effect, forget you: the next time you access the service, you'll face the empty sign-in form. Behind-the-scenes, the cookies that instructed Outlook.com to login automatically will be deleted. (Tip: to completely erase your username, you'll need to delete your web browser's AutoComplete setting for the login page.)
Once the logout is complete, Microsoft will redirect you to another page (typically, the MSN homepage for your computer or laptop, through the signout.live.com pass-through domain).
Caution: if you hit the Back button several times, you'll get the "Please sign in again. To help protect your personal information, we periodically sign you out (for example, after 24 hours or when you sign in to a different account)." error message, with a Sign in again button. You won't be able to open any message, but you'll still be able to get in transparency glimpse of the last email folder you visited: for that reason, make sure to close the browser window / browser tab when you are done!
If you cannot login to your account just because you can't remember a lost password, or if your account is blocked, the fix is relatively easy, and you'll regain access within minutes: click on the "Can't access your account" link in the sign-in page: (if someone is currently logged in, sign out and start over). The Microsoft Account restore screen will load next: enter your full email address in the first text box, and type the "captcha" verification code in the second. Then, click on the Next button. (You can recover your password using the secret question / security answer, but email address is the easiest!)
FYI: if you enter several times the wrong password, you'll get a "You've tried to sign in too many times with an incorrect email address or password" error message, and a captcha code to match: this is normal, and is designed by Microsoft to prevent hackers from trying to guess your password by "brute force" (one combination after another with impunity).
The default password recovery method uses the alternate email account you entered when you first signed up: for confirmation, type that email address in full (Outlook.com hides it for your protection), and click Next. Check your other account's inbox for a 7-digit security code: enter it and click Next: Type twice your new password to reset it, and optionally make Outlook ask for a new one every 72 days, and click Next. Remember to change password wherever it was stored (like in email programs) or "remembered" (like in web browsers' AutoComplete or built-in password managers).
Whether you are running an iOS device (iPhone / iPod touch / iPad), an Android tablet (Kindle Fire, Google Nexus...) or smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S2 / S3...), or other web-enabled cell phone (Blackberry...), you can access either the mobile version of Outlook.com or the PC site. The mobile site works fine, but in many cases, it will be easier to use a Hotmail app or mobile mail client available to your platform. Unlike the old version of Hotmail, Outlook.com is optimized to look like a Windows 8 application - so take your pick for Microsoft Surface and other Windows tablets!
Caveat: surprisingly, the URL m.hotmail.com is not responding because Microsoft doesn't support it. The correct address for mobile web browsers is "mail.live.com/m". The mobile sign-in form doesn't support the automatic login option, but you can access the full version of Hotmail with by clicking on the "PC Site" link right below your email messages listing (see screenshot).
This is a fantastic option when you want to check your emails from a school or library computer, or while using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection (no password required to access the network), like the ones often provided for free in public places. Instead of using your standard Hotmail password, you'll enter a temporary code sent to your cell phone from Microsoft in an SMS text message. So, even if someone were to hack into the network and intercept your password, all they would have is a password that only worked once! (That's why it's called "single-use": statistically, you'll never get the same code.)
Under the login form, click on "Sign in with a single-use code". Then, enter your full email address and your phone number (see note below). Now click on the "Text me the code" button: When you receive it, enter it in the text box and click Sign in. That's it! Don't forget to manually sign out when you are done, to be sure that no-one can access your inbox when you leave that computer.
Note: for this to work, you must have first associated your cell phone number with this particular email account. To give out the least amount of information, for your security, Microsoft will always say "If the phone number you entered matches the one you provided for your Windows Live ID, you'll receive the single use code soon" - no telling if your number was associated or not!
To add a smartphone to your account, click on the gear icon (top right corner) and choose "More mail settings". On the next screen, click Account details and supply your password if prompted to do so. Under the third section, click on the "Edit security info" link: add or confirm the phone number on file, and Microsoft will send a test SMS text message as confirmation.
To sign in with a different user account, you currently need to logout and log back in, which is a tedious process. With the automatic sign in option discussed earlier, you can make the browser remember you, so you don't have to manually login every time. So the easiest way to sign in with another account or sign-in guest on the same PC is with multiple web browsers: just use each of them for a different account!
Here's a list of completely free web browsers you can download and install on Windows, Mac OS X, or even Linux for some of them. These are safe web browsers from reputable companies and/or software vendors we use ourselve. The links to download pages will open in a new window, but they will not install anything on your computer (to do so, just click the corresponding Download button and follow the steps of the program installer :)
|Browser name||Made by||Notes|
|Safari for Windows||Apple||link||This web browser is no longer supported or maintained - only use it to check one of your Hotmail accounts, not general web surfing (no more security patches!)|
|Chrome||link||Fast and minimalistic web browser by Google.|
|Firefox||Mozilla||link||Most popular alternate web browser in the world.|
|SeaMonkey||Mozilla||link||Web browsing suite that includes an excellent email program.|
|Pale Moon||(Mozilla)||link||Very fast version of Firefox optimized for Windows - supports all add-ons.|
|Opera||Opera Software||link||Opera's built-in password manager (called "Wand") makes it an ideal candidate to store multiple credentials for various accounts. Also a very safe browser|
When Microsoft supported "Linked Accounts", you could quickly switch between different Hotmail accounts. This is unfortunately no longer the case with Outlook.com, for security reasons (one email account hacked gave the hacker access to multiple accounts!) But you can still sign in to different Outlook.com inboxes from the same computer, and Outlook supports "aliases".
If Hotmail / Outlook.com won't load...
This troubleshooting tool only gets the official status of various Microsoft and Windows Live services; some technical issues may not have been reported yet.
Are there any Hotmail sign in issues today? For a quick account problems troubleshooting, just click on the "Check Hotmail Status" button to get an update on any current technical issues with Microsoft's services and see if Hotmail can sign you in right now.
Since Hotmail / Outlook.com is a web-based service, technical issues affect everyone, whether they are using a Windows 7 / 8 / XP / Vista PC or a Mac OS X computer. If you get a white screen or blank sign-in page, access to your account is either blocked by your work or school, or Windows Live services are down (the same applies when the login page is not loading). If the page has changed, you know that Microsoft is just updating something: in that case, try again a bit later.
Note: if you forgot your Hotmail / Outlook.com password, see instead the "Reset Password" section: simply changing your password is only possible when you are logged into your account; otherwise, you have to go through each step of the password recovery process.
First, sign in to your Hotmail account and go to your inbox: from there, click on the Settings button (gear icon in the top right corner), and choose "More mail settings" from the dropdown menu.
On the next page, click on "Account details" (first link under Managing your account). In the new window that opened , enter your current password: this is a security measure that prevents others from accessing your account details. Then, click on the "Change password" link, re-enter your current password, and type the new password twice before clicking save. Don't forget to update your password wherever it was "remembered" (in web browsers, email programs, etc.)
Signing out will prevent others from getting into your inbox, but if your web browser was set to remember your login or even just your email address, you can erase that too!
Go to the Hotmail Sign in page, and type the first letter of your email address in the first text field: as shown on the screenshot, your browser will show that address as AutoComplete suggestion if it was remembered. Move your mouse pointer above that address, and hit the Delete key (sometimes just called "Del").
Note: in Internet Explorer, this will not only delete that email address from the list of remembered user names, but also remove any saved password that was associated with it. In Firefox (and other Mozilla-based browsers), and Google Chrome, it will at least remove the username from auto-completion. In web browsers that use a password manager (integrated, like the "Wand" in Opera, or as an add-on), you'll need to manually to remove your Hotmail / Outlook.com credentials.
The Windows Live Sign in assistant is available for XP, Vista, and Windows 7, also known as "Sign in Helper" allows you to seemlessly use multiple Live accounts on the same computer. You can download the free Sign-in Assistant from Microsoft's website: the file will be called "wlsetup-idcrl.exe". If during the installation, you get the "A newer version of Essentials is already installed" error message, it simply means that you already have on your computer the latest version of Windows Live software suite. (Just click on the Close button, and optionally delete the installer file you just downloaded.)