Using The MSN Hotmail Member Directory To Find Your Friends

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msn hotmail member directoryFor many years, anyone with a Hotmail account would go to Hotmail.com and access their email accounts in much the same way that you currently access Gmail. People become accustomed to the way Hotmail looked and felt, and it remained that way for a long time. However, in recent years, Microsoft started dramatically revamping the look and feel of Hotmail, so that many users have lost track of the things they used to have memorized, like accessing the MSN Hotmail Member Directory, for example.

Here at MUO, we’ve covered Hotmail a number of times. Jack wrote about how to access Hotmail messages from your Gmail account and Tim explained how to make your Hotmail email account more secure.


If you are one of those Hotmail users that has lost track of the MSN Hotmail Member Directory, I’m going to help you find it again, and also show you how to make better use of it to find your long lost friends.

Hotmail Is Part Of Windows Live

The first thing that the majority of readers will likely already know (so it shouldn’t be news) is that Hotmail is no longer just MSN Hotmail, but instead it’s now Windows Live Hotmail. This means that the MSN Hotmail member directory that people were so accustomed to is now the Windows Live member directory.

msn hotmail member directory

The problem with the new Windows Live Hotmail system is that it’s not really apparent how to get to the public member directory. When you’re logged into your Hotmail email account, you can access the member directory by clicking on “Contacts” in the left navigation bar. Most people assume that “Contacts” only means your own personal contacts, but this is in fact the starting point to find the public directory.

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msn hotmail members

Within your Contacts page, you’ll see a link to “Add people” in the left menu. Over the past few years, like many other social networks, Microsoft has been busy cloning the Facebook model. You’ll find that the entire Windows Live social network system looks and feels a lot like Facebook, right down to the public status updates and how you connect with friends. The first step is to choose what privacy level you want to set your Windows Live account.

msn hotmail members

Once you’ve done that, you’ll find yourself in the Windows Live member directory search page. Here, you can import friends from your other social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, or your Gmail account.  To search through the massive member directory for any long-lost friends, you’ll need to click on “Search for people.”

msn hotmail members

Now, you’re finally on the Member Directory search page. This is much like doing a Facebook search to find your family or friends on the Internet in that you can search by their name, employer, school or a number of other search methods. If you’ve been looking for lost friends or family and couldn’t find them on Facebook, you could very well find them on Windows Live, since it is currently one of the largest email systems online.

msn hotmail

Type in the name of the friend you’re looking for and you’ll get back the results of everyone on Windows Live with the matching name. Just like on Facebook, you’ll see any location, educational or employment information that the person made public. These details should help you better identify whether that person is the friend you’ve been searching for.

msn hotmail

Once you find them, the similarity to Facebook really comes out. You can invite the person to become one of your Windows Live “friends”. This allows them to see your updates and details, and lets them see yours. It also adds them to your contact list in Windows Live Messenger and any other Windows Live social apps that you use.

msn hotmail

Another similarity to Facebook People search is the ability to dig through the MSN Hotmail member directory using a list of “variables,” including gender, location, education, and even interests. Not only is it a good way to find long lost friends, but it’s also a cool way to discover people that share your interests and potentially make new friends.

The one thing that really surprised me was when I started exploring the personal pages of some of the Windows Live users. Interestingly, the individual Windows Live pages are laid out a lot like Facebook pages. It’s pretty clear that Microsoft is trying to utilize the same layout as Facebook – catering to an online community that clearly prefers a social network where you post status updates and follow your friends’ updates.

msn hotmail member directory

It was also shocking to me that, just like on Facebook, people are so willing to offer their very private information. For example, I found one user (the one above) that provided her home and mobile phone numbers and her email address, to  the public Windows Live network!

Such a large member directory that’s publicly accessible to anyone with a Windows Live account makes it an excellent resource to find your friends. It may not be easy to find the member directory search page, but once you sign up for a Windows Live Hotmail account and follow the steps above, you can start searching as much as you like.

Have you used the Hotmail directory to “discover” any lost friends? Do you use the Windows Live social network? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

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Comments (6)
  • Haroon

    Can anyone share the link to access the msn member directory..

  • Jack Cola

    Ok. I know what you mean about that. I had a friend from primary school who was going traveling for a year, never seen, or heard from him since, and then just a few months ago, he joins FB and adds me as a friend.

    Well hopefully for you, he stumbles across this post, and recognizes your name, and he writes a comment.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jack. He was random – although I chose the name of a very good childhood friend that I had years ago (here in the U.S.) – even with Facebook I’ve never found him though. :-)

    • Jack Cola

      Ok. I know what you mean about that. I had a friend from primary school who was going traveling for a year, never seen, or heard from him since, and then just a few months ago, he joins FB and adds me as a friend.

      Well hopefully for you, he stumbles across this post, and recognizes your name, and he writes a comment.

  • Jack Cola

    Hi Ryan,
    Thanks for linking to my article. By the way, do you know that Andrew Bray that you added as a friend, or was he a random you used for demonstration?

  • Jack Cola

    Hi Ryan,
    Thanks for linking to my article. By the way, do you know that Andrew Bray that you added as a friend, or was he a random you used for demonstration?

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.