Windows Live Mail Setup: Get Email on Your Desktop for Free

windows live mail setupWindows 7 includes a free email client called “Live Mail.” Whether you like it or not, there’s a good chance that you’ll need email for some transactions or communication. You can pay for an email client or just use what you have on your operating system. Windows Live Mail replaces the old Outlook Express that you might remember from older operating versions. Live Mail has improved functionality and aesthetic layouts for the newer Windows operating system.

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First, you need to find Windows Live on your computer. Windows Live is found in the Windows 7 “Start” menu. When you first open it, you’ll see a splash screen like the following:

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The next step is to configure your email client. Windows Live is compatible with several applications including Hotmail and Gmail. Type your user name and password into the input boxes. You also enter your “display name.” The display name is what users see when you send them an email. Have you ever noticed that the name shown on an email is different than the actual email account? This is called the “display name.” You typically enter your first and last name as the display name, but you can also use your business name.

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Notice the option at the bottom of the form that says “Manually configure server settings.” These settings are used when you have another email client. Typically, you use these settings when you have a business account for your name. For instance, if you have the domain “mybusiness.com,” your email address is yourname@mybusiness.com. Since Windows Live can’t auto-detect those settings, you can use the manual signup form to set up your server’s configuration.

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Server configuration is where email client setup gets tricky. The first section is the “incoming server information.” The first drop-down option in this section is the “Server type.” The server type is specified by your email service provider. If you have a business domain that also provides email services, the setup is probably using POP. However, you should check with your provider in case they use IMAP.

The text box in the incoming email section is also set up by your provider. Typically, the server address is “pop.yourdomain.com.” That is, it’s your address if you use POP. The port defaults to 110, because this is the common POP incoming mail address. Again, your provider might give you a different port number. If you specify the wrong port number, you will not be able to connect. If you use SSL (secure connection), make sure you check this box to activate it on the email client side.

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Most POP addresses use clear text, so choose this option in the “Authenticate using” drop-down. Again, if your provider gives you a different setting, choose it instead. Finally, type your login user name in the “logon user name” text box. With most domain services, this user name is what you choose when you set up your domain account and email services.

The next section is the “Outgoing server information.” Outgoing server information is set up in a similar way to incoming server configurations. However, the outgoing server is for sending email instead of receiving and storing. If you configure the outgoing server wrong, you won’t be able to send email. You might still receive email in your POP address, but any outgoing email will fail.

Typically, the server name for outgoing email is “smtp.yourdomain.com.” Outgoing email uses the simple transport mail protocol (SMTP), so this is why the subdomain is given the “smtp” prefix. Also not the default port 25 is filled in for you. Some email providers use a different SMTP port to protect against spammers. However, the provider can protect against spammers using a user name and password authentication scheme instead. Your provider will tell you details for outgoing mail services. You want to avoid service providers that allow for unauthenticated, random SMTP connections. Spammers use open SMTP servers to send spam, so the spammer’s local SMTP server doesn’t get blocked by spam blacklists. If your SMTP server is open to anyone, your email can get blacklisted and placed into spam lists. This is a huge problem for ecommerce providers that need email to pass through to customer email accounts. If your email server gets blacklisted, your customers will only find your email if they check in spam inboxes.

There are two options after the server address text box: requires SSL and requires authentication. The first option (requires SSL) sets SSL for your connection. SSL is a security standard that encrypts your connection. You must ask your email service provider if the SMTP server supports SSL connections. The next option is “requires authentication.” This is the option that requires authentication (a user name and password) when you connect to the SMTP server. Check these boxes if your service provider says they are supported on your email server.

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After you set up the Windows Live email client, you’re ready to go. Save your settings and open Windows Live. Provided you use the right settings, you will connect to the POP email server and download your email. You can now view email sent to your account. You probably want to send a test email to yourself to ensure that you can send and receive email. Send an email to an external account to make sure your email reaches its intended recipient.

In addition to email, Windows Live also offers many of the features you get in Outlook. You also have a calendar and the ability to log events to keep track of your schedule. Most Outlook abilities are also available in Windows Live. It might take some time to get used to the new interface, but you should be able to smoothly move from the Microsoft Outlook interface to Live without too much hassle.