How To Set Up & Troubleshoot The Mail App In Windows 8

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troubleshoot windows 8 mailWindows 8 features a pretty slick Mail app. If you thought it only supported Microsoft accounts, such as Hotmail, Windows Live, or Outlook, you were wrong. The Windows 8 Mail app lets you add any email account that supports IMAP.

As it always is in life, the theory is beautiful, but in practice we run into all sorts of petty issues. That was me when I tried to set up the Windows 8 Mail app. This article is based on my experiences. It will help you set up the Mail app in two super simple steps, which should be very easy, unless you run into issues like me. And so I added troubleshooting tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls.

Set Up Windows 8 Mail App

When you log into Windows 8 with a local account and open Mail for the first time, you will be asked to log in with your Microsoft account.

troubleshoot windows 8 mail

If you are logged into Windows 8 with your Microsoft account already, you should see the respective email account, given your Microsoft account is based on a Hotmail, Outlook, or Windows Live email address. Otherwise, you will see three blank columns and a note to Add your email accounts. Since I used my Gmail address to create a Microsoft account, that is what I saw.

Add Email Accounts to Windows 8 Mail App

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That is perfectly normal! Go ahead and click an account you wish to add. If Mail comes up completely blank, click [Windows] + [I] to bring up the app’s Settings, go to Accounts, select Add an account, and choose an option from the list. Enter your email address and password and try your luck.

The trouble starts, when you don’t actually succeed in adding any accounts.

Problem: Cannot Add Any Email Account

Do you see one of these error messages:

  • Unable to connect. Ensure that the information you’ve entered is correct.
  • That email address or password didn’t work. Double-check them and try again.

First, make sure your login details are correct. Windows won’t let you see your password as you enter it, but you can click and hold the eye symbol on the far right of the password field to briefly review your password.

windows 8 mail app troubleshoot

Second, while your password might be correct, it won’t work if you enabled two-factor authentication, e.g. Gmail’s two step verification. In that case you need specific password to log in. Log into your email account via its web interface or use a mobile app you might have to obtain this a temporary application-specific password.

Third, check your Internet connection! When I first tried to add an account, the Adding your account wheel would spin forever before one of those errors popped up. I tried every trick in the book, and out of pure desperation I even refreshed Windows 8. To no avail. When I finally connected to the Internet using a LAN cable, it suddenly worked.

Don’t laugh! I was actually connected to the Internet via WiFi the whole time. I can only suspect that Windows was downloading updates in the background and hence connecting to the email account eventually timed out. Later, adding accounts via WiFi worked perfectly fine.

Summary Of Possible Solutions:

  • Double-check your login details are correct.
  • Are you using two step verification? Get an application-specific password!
  • Connect to Internet via LAN cable.

Problem: Cannot Add A Gmail Account

So you tried all of the above and you’re still stuck. If you’re trying to add a Gmail account, your mistake might be that you’re trying to Include your Google contacts and calendars.

troubleshoot windows 8 mail

Unfortunately, Google no longer supports new Exchange ActiveSync connections. The only way to sync your Google calendar and contacts to Windows 8 is through workarounds described in the previous link. To add your Google email account to the Mail app, you must un-check the respective option.


  • Un-check box next to option Include your Google contacts and calendars.

Problem: Cannot Add Other Account

Like most email clients, the Mail app tries to auto-fill most of the information required to add an email account. If you have an exotic account, however, for example from your work or university, Mail might fail. The error message will read like this:

  • We sill can’t find settings for [your email address]. Providing this additional info may help. If you don’t know this information, search online or check with your provider.

For once, Mail has some helpful advice. The solution is in the error message above.


Many small pitfalls are to be avoided when setting up applications that depend on so many different parameters. Automatically completing server details, synchronizing data via the Cloud, logging in with additional security features, and meanwhile collaborating competitors change their settings and stop supporting features. The only thing that remains reliable is a Google search combined with trial & error as a means of troubleshooting. And maybe you’re better off trying an alternative Windows 8 email app.

If you still struggle to add your email account to the Windows 8 Mail app, please ask a question on MakeUseOf Answers. If you have discovered additional pitfalls and/or solutions, please add them in the comments below.

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