Windows 7: Using Windows Live Mail (part 1) - Setting Up Windows Live Mail and Configuring Email Accounts

3/18/2011 9:17:55 AM
Windows Live Mail is a combined email, calendar, and contacts program that replaces three products that were available previously with Windows Vista: Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, and Windows Contacts. If you haven’t purchased Microsoft Office Outlook, you can use Windows Live Mail to send and receive email. For connecting to email servers and receiving email, Windows Live Mail supports Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) and Internet Message Access Protocol 4 (IMAP4). For sending email, Windows Live Mail supports Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). Windows Live Mail also supports Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) for use with Web-based email services, such as Windows Live Hotmail.

1. Getting to Know Windows Live Mail

Windows Live Mail is one of several free desktop programs available as part of the Windows Live Essentials. You do not need to sign up for Windows Live to use these programs, but most of them include enhanced functionality available to Windows Live users (such as uploading photos and synchronizing contacts online).

To install Windows Live Essentials, click Start→All Programs→Accessories→Getting Started. Use the option titled Go Online to get Windows Live Essentials to download and run the Windows Live Setup program. When Setup starts, select the programs you want to install and then click Install. That’s it! Once you install the Windows Live programs, they are available by clicking Start→All Programs→Windows Live and then selecting the program that you want to run.

You start Windows Live Mail by clicking Start→All Programs→Windows Live→Windows Live Mail. As Figure 1 shows, Windows Live Mail has an interface similar to earlier versions of Outlook Express. From the deceptively similar interface, you might think that Windows Live Mail is essentially Outlook Express with a face-lift. The truth is, however, that Windows Live Mail is dramatically different.

Figure 1. Creating and managing your email

You can configure Windows Live Mail to send and receive email for multiple accounts. When you do, you’ll have a separate inbox and working areas for each account.

If you browse your personal folders, you’ll find the folders Windows Live Mail uses under %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail. In the main folder, Windows Live Mail stores messaging data in the Message Store database and you’ll have one top-level folder for each mailbox you’ve configured as well as additional folders for your calendar data, your outbox, and more.


AppData and all the folders and files it contains are stored on your computer as hidden folders and files.

In the mailbox folders, Windows Live Mail stores email messages as separate Email Message (.eml) files. The .eml file format is a raw email message file format that includes the routing information for the message. These folders also include the following subfolders:


Stores individual .eml files for email you’ve received from other people

Sent Items

Stores individual .eml files for email you’ve sent to other people

Deleted Items

Stores your deleted email messages as individual .eml files until you empty the Deleted Items folder


Stores individual .eml files for messages you’ve drafted but have not sent

Junk Email

Stores junk email you’ve received as individual .eml files

The Message Store database (Mail.MSMessageStore) tracks the folder location and the email items within individual folders. Windows Live Mail uses the database to help manage your email.

Because of how the database and .eml files work, at a very basic level Windows Live Mail is really just an organizer and viewer for your email. Whether you are working with the Search Results window or the individual Windows Live Mail folder, you can:

  • Open an email by double-clicking it.

  • Forward an email to someone else by right-clicking it and selecting Forward.

  • Reply to an email by right-clicking it and selecting Reply to Sender or Reply All as appropriate.

In the left pane of Windows Live Mail, you’ll find a familiar folder structure, starting with a Quick Views node for quickly accessing unread email from any email account. Under the node for each configured mailbox, you’ll have subnodes for Inbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items, Drafts, and Junk Email. There’s also an Outbox, which stores outgoing messages for all mailboxes (the messages will appear in the appropriate Sent Items folder once they have been sent).

In Windows Live Mail, you can search your email by selecting the starting folder and typing your search text into the Search box provided. If you select the top-level folder for a particular account, you can search all of the email folders associated with that account at once.

Even more exciting is that you can search your email and read email returned in search results without ever having to open Windows Live Mail. You can do so by following these steps:

  1. Click Start and then click your logon name to access your personal folder in Windows Explorer.

  2. In Windows Explorer, type kind:=email in the Search box and then type the text you want to search for within your email. In the search results, you’ll see a list of emails that match your search text by the sender’s email address and message subject.

  3. When you click an email that you want to view, you’ll see the complete text of the email in the Preview pane.


If the Preview pane is not displayed, click the Show Preview pane toolbar button. Tthe Windows Search service automatically indexes email folders used with Office Outlook and Windows Live Mail. This means you also can use this technique with Office Outlook.

Windows Live Mail periodically synchronizes your messaging, calendar, and contacts data between the program running on your computer and the online service. Keep the following in mind:

  • With Windows Live Hotmail or any IMAP account, synchronization ensures your Inbox, Drafts, Sent Items, Junk E-Mail, and Deleted Items folders have the same contents whether you are using the desktop program or logged in to the online service. With POP3 mail servers, synchronization retrieves email from the inbox and by default leaves the email on the server. By leaving the mail on the POP3 server, you can check mail on one computer and still download it to your home or office computer later. However, this also means that you need to delete and file mail in more than one place. With Windows Live Hotmail and IMAP, you’ll see the same folder view no matter which computer or device you’re using to read email.

  • With Windows Live Contacts, synchronization ensures your basic contact data is the same whether you are using the desktop program or logged in to the online service. Basic contact data includes your personal profile, personal contacts you’ve created and contact categories you’ve defined, but does not include people networks available when you are accessing the online service.

  • With Windows Live Calendar, synchronization ensures your basic calendar data is the same whether you are using the desktop program or logged in to the online service. Basic calendar data includes personal calendars you’ve created and events you’ve added to personal calendars as well as group calendars for Windows Live Groups you’ve created or joined and shared calendars to which you’ve subscribed online, but does not include the calendar agenda items or calendar to-do lists that are available when you are accessing the online service.

The Windows Live Mail team has also devised a much easier way for you to back up your email. The previous Outlook Express clients did not make it very easy to back up and restore your email repository. With Windows Live Mail, backing up and restoring your email is easy. You really need to back up only one folder, and that’s the %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail folder.

2. Setting Up Windows Live Mail and Configuring Email Accounts

When you first start using Windows Live Mail, the Add An Email Account Wizard will guide you through the process of configuring your first email account. Using this wizard, you can set up your default email account by completing the following steps:

Figure 2. Setting the email address, password, and display name for your account

  1. Type the email address and password for the account you are configuring (see Figure 2). To successfully send and receive email, you must use the email address the email server expects—either the email address you’ve been assigned or the one you selected to use when initially setting up your email account.

  2. In the Display Name text box, enter the display name for the email account and then click Next. The display name is the name that will appear in the From field when you send email to other people.

  3. If you are configuring email for Hotmail, Yahoo, or another online service, Windows Live Mail will automatically configure itself for the service and then attempt to connect to the service to download your mailbox and related folders. In some cases, you may be required to change settings in order to use Windows Live Mail with the service. If Windows Live Mail successfully connects to the service, you’re done and don’t need to follow the remaining steps. If Windows Live Mail can’t connect to the service, ensure you’ve entered the correct email address and password, or perform a required procedure, such as upgrading to Yahoo Plus or enabling IMAP with Google Gmail.

  4. If you’re configuring a connect to mail servers in your organization or other mail servers Windows Live Mail doesn’t recognize, you’ll need to manually configure mail. As shown in Figure 3, select the incoming email server type from one of POP3, IMAP4, or HTTP.

  5. If you selected HTTP, you must enter the fully qualified domain name for the incoming mail server.

  6. If you selected POP3 or IMAP4, you must do the following:

    • In the “Incoming server” text box, type the fully qualified domain name of the incoming email server, such as The incoming email server is the POP3 or IMAP4 server from which you receive email.

    • In the “Outgoing server” text box, type the fully qualified domain name of the outgoing email server, such as The outgoing email server is the SMTP server to which you submit email that you want to send to other people. Just about every email server in the world uses SMTP for submitting messages.

    • Select a logon authentication mechanism. If you are unsure, select Clear Text Authentication. If the incoming, outgoing or both servers requires a secure connection, select the related checkbox to enable SSL.

    • Confirm that the port information is correct. Windows Live Mail sets the port for the incoming and outgoing servers based on the options you select. With POP3 for the incoming server, the default unsecure port is 110 and the default secure port is 995. With IMAP4 for the incoming server, the default unsecure port is 143 and the default secure port is 993. With SMTP for the outgoing server, the default port is 25 (whether you are using a secure or unsecure connection). If you get connection errors using port 25, try 587.

    • If the mail server requires a user name and password when a user sends email in addition to when a user retrieves email, select the “My outgoing server requires authentication” checkbox.


    Most email servers require a user name and password for both sending and receiving mail. If a password isn’t required for sending mail, the mail server may be vulnerable to exploitation.

  1. Confirm that the login id is correct. The login id is usually the same as the email user name. For some email servers, however, you might need to enter the name of the domain in the form domain\email_alias, such as northamerica\williams (note the backslash). In some cases, you might need to type this information in the form domain/email_alias, such as northamerica/Williams (note the forward slash).

  2. Click Next, and then click Finish to complete the configuration.

Figure 3. Setting the email address for your account

You can set up additional email accounts by following these steps:

  1. In Windows Live Mail, click the “Add email account” link that appears at the bottom of your list of mailboxes.

  2. Follow the previous procedure to complete the account configuration.

Once you configure your email accounts, you’ll be able to send and receive email using the configured accounts. As necessary, you can modify the settings of an email account by following these steps:

  1. In Windows Live Mail, right-click the top-level node for your account, and then click Properties.

  2. As necessary, change the email account settings, including the user information, server information, and type of connection.

  3. Click OK to save your settings.

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