Welcome to our Windows Live Mail Tutorial!
After Outlook Express for Windows 98 to XP and Windows Mail for Vista, Windows Live Mail is a free email program from Microsoft you can install on Windows Vista and Windows 7 / 8 (alongside Windows 8 Mail). The current version is Windows Live Mail 2012 "Wave 5", now a much closer alternative to Outlook, with a built-in calendar and RSS reader.
Tip: on Windows XP, the latest version you can run is Windows Live Mail 2009 ("Wave 3"). See our Windows Live Mail tutorial for XP. If you see a ribbon at the top of the window, you are using Windows Live Mail 2011 or 2012:
Windows Live Mail is the email program part of Windows Live Essentials, a free software package made by Microsoft: since its first version in 2007, this email program has slowly risen to become a noteworthy competitor to Microsoft Outlook (~$100, MRSP), the Office suite mail client and personal information manager. The latest version is available to all recent versions of Windows. A few introductory topics on this awesome app:
Windows Live Mail supports just about any email account you can think of, from standard POP3 and IMAP accounts, to proprietary protocols like Microsoft's Exchange / DeltaSync. In Windows Live Mail 2012, the account setup process is near fully automated for popular email providers, but you can still manually configure your accounts:
Once you've configured your email accounts (in theory, you can have as many of them setup in Windows Live Mail as you want), you can customize them:
Windows Live Mail comes with a full-fledged address book that allows you to maintain a list of contacts in a single location, and manage them in categories for mass mailings (called "lists", or "contact groups"). You can even import and export your contacts between Windows Live Mail and older versions of the same program and other popular email clients!
You can fully customize how Windows Live Mail sends and receives email messages - globally, and on an account-by-account basis, including how to temporarily disable some accounts or work offline. These tutorials will cover the basics of reading and composing messages as well.
Every message you send says something about you: adding a signature makes your emails look more professional, and the font you choose can make you stand out from other emails people receive (in a good way or in a bad way :)
Unlike its predecessors (Outlook Express and Vista Mail), Windows Live Mail includes adaptive spam filters built right in! "Adaptive" means that they learn and get better at recognizing junk mail, and receive spam list updates through Windows Updates. And you can manually block senders and domains (or add them to your safe list!)
Windows Live Mail is a deceptively simple program to use, which hides a lot of advanced functionality at first glance: these and future tips and tricks will help you discover some of the "hidden" features you generally don't come across except by accident! That includes non-email features like the built-in RSS reader (for news feeds), and the powerful calendar, which can be synchronized online once you have setup a Hotmail / Outlook.com account (Windows Live Calendar runs the backend).