Have you seen or used Hotmail lately? Despite its rough past, it’s pretty nice and it surely gives Gmail a run for its… well, I was going to say “money” but both are free. Which, in my opinion, is quite impressive, given the amount of things that you can do with it. The “new” Hotmail has several very beneficial features now that allow you to keep your email inbox clean, organized and free of spam and “graymail“.
The features go beyond the inbox, however. There are also features that allow you to mark certain emails as “important” so you don’t forget about them. But there are many others that make Hotmail an excellent choice for a modern email client.
If you’ve never heard of graymail, you’re not alone. This was a term I hadn’t heard of, before diving into the depths of Hotmail. However, we all have it. So what is it? It’s all the mail that you sometimes want, but is always in the way. It’s your social media notifications, your daily deals from shopping websites, and all those newsletters that you thought were interesting at the time, but never open them and (sometimes) feel guilty about it because you’re thinking you’re missing something big! Yes. You’re not the only one who does that.
So what’s the difference between spam and graymail? Spam is unsolicited emails while graymail has been given permission to be received by you. Spam is from fraudulent or misleading sources, but graymail is sent from reputable sources with legitimate information that provides an option to opt-out of whenever you want to. Lastly, the content that spam brings is of no value and is often malicious. Whereas the content in graymail can be interesting and relevant to you, however it may not always be the case if your tastes change. Nonetheless, graymail has some sort of value, where spam has none.
In the past, our inboxes used to flood with spam. There was hardly a way to control it. But now, real spam is hardly the problem. In fact, Hotmail claims that the amount of spam in the average user’s inbox is less than 3%. So if real spam is hardly a problem, why is your inbox so messy? Graymail. That’s why. You sign up for newsletter after newsletter and eventually you become overwhelmed with too much information that you begin ignoring potentially valuable emails. This is not permanent. Hotmail provides you with the tools to easily reverse this process in a matter of minutes (if not less).
Automate Your Inbox
There are three options for scheduling a clean up:
- Only keep the latest message from this sender.
- Delete all messages older than 3, 10, 30 or 60 days.
- Move all messages older than 3, 10, 30 or 60 days to [designated folder].
This can be accessed under the dropdown menu “Sweep” on the main toolbar above your inbox.
This feature is actually within the email itself. If you prefer to completely stop receiving a particular newsletter, you can click “unsubscribe” and Hotmail will automatically keep you from receiving future emails from that sender by blocking the email before it arrives in your inbox.
Once you click unsubscribe, you also get the option to remove all of the previous emails.
Categories are a great way to organize your emails. Once you have your designated categories, you can start adding and dividing up senders to the different ones.
You can create a new category in the dropdown menu or by clicking the link “New Category” under “Quick Links” in the panel on the left side.
You can also add emails to a new category by clicking on the category section on a specific email. You can also add it to a new category if the preferred one is not listed.
Sweep offers several options. We’ve already explored the Schedule Cleanup option under sweep. The other options include…
Specific senders to a designated folder…
Deleting emails and blocking future ones from specific senders…
And marking an entire folder as “read” and erasing all emails from a specific folder.
Find Emails Faster:
Customizable Instant Actions
Instant Actions are great, but Customizable Instant Actions are really great. To access these and create your own, click “Options” in the top right corner under your name and then click “More options.” There is a plethora of options on this page and I encourage you to get to know them. You’ll find the “Instant Actions” option at the bottom of the “Customizing Hotmail” list. You’ll see an “Add actions” dropdown list.
These are options that you would use frequently right on the email message in your inbox. Choose which ones you would like by clicking on the Instant Action and then customizing it to your liking. You can move the actions around using the “Move up” and “Move down” options next to the “Add actions” menu. Note that you can only display five Instant Actions at once.
Flags is a type of instant action which allows you to mark specific emails as a priority over all others. No matter how old an email is, if flagged, it will appear at the top of your inbox. This is obviously not something you want to overuse. Otherwise you will just end up with a bunch of emails that you haven’t done anything with. That said, flagging allows you to easily set apart the important emails from the rest.
One-click filters allow you to only view specific types of emails. For example, you have the option to view only emails from contacts, newsletters, social updates, etc.
Multiple aliases are very beneficial as they allow you to have multiple email addresses within Hotmail without having to check multiple inboxes or even import mail – it does it for you. To do this, hover over “Inbox” and you’ll see a “gear.” Once you click that you’ll see three options, all of which are important to make note of. Select “Create a Hotmail alias.” You’ll then be prompted to reenter your password.
Once you do so, you will be able to choose a new email address to automatically have imported into your Hotmail inbox. This email address can be @hotmail.com or @live.com – the preference is yours.
So what’s the benefit of this? Well, this gives you the ability to create another email address whether it’s temporary or something you intend to use along side your primary address. Now, a similar feature like this does exist in Gmail, however, that’s only with the addition of a “+” to the original address. Hotmail, on the other hand, allows you to create a completely new address without the process of creating a whole new account, and then can import it into your existing Hotmail account.
Multiple Emails, One Inbox
This is a great option to consider if you are wanting to use (or already using) Hotmail as your primary email client. To add more emails to import into your existing Hotmail inbox, hover over “Inbox” again and select the first option on the list, “Get email from another account.” This will bring up the Sending/receiving email accounts page. Click on the link titled “Add an email account.” Add your email account and fill in your account details.
Now, some users such as those using Yahoo, won’t be able to do this through this page. But there’s hope! Hotmail provides a service called TrueSwitch which allows you to import all your existing mail and contacts easily no matter what service you’re coming from. All you need to do is follow the steps there and you should be on your way to a brand new email client.
Folders are a great asset to clearing out your inbox. They differ from Categories in that they actually store emails in them, versus categories that are only used to sort the mail. Both are essential, but have different purposes. You can create new folders by clicking “New Folder.” You can then use the Sweep feature to automatically add emails to folders in a mass quantity or even bypass the inbox altogether upon arrival.
Preventing Future Spam
Although spam isn’t a big part of most inboxes. Some people have more than others. There are two kinds of spam – spam from unknown senders and spam from a contact’s hacked account. The latter is dangerous to not only you, but also the contact. I try to do my part in notifying them personally and I encourage you to do the same.
But there’s something else you can also do. Hotmail allows you to report their account as hacked.To do this, open the email (just selecting it won’t work) from the account that you want to report for being hacked. Then click the menu “Mark as” and choose “My friend’s been hacked!”
To remove spam from other senders you can use the Sweep option. Select all the spam and then click Sweep > “Block from.”
Do make sure that you double check to make sure all of the emails that you’ve selected are true spam messages before blocking them. This ensures that there won’t be one you wanted to keep that will be sent to the Junk folder accidentally.
As you can see, Hotmail has come a long way. It isn’t an email client to be taken lightly. In fact, many of the features that it has are completely unique and in my honest opinion, for anyone creating a new email account, Hotmail should be highly considered with these given improvements.
Now that you have the tools to change your email experience in Hotmail, do you see your email habits changing? Are you using Hotmail and implementing some of these features already? If not, are you considering switching over?