Microsoft completely redesigned Hotmail as "Outlook.com" in summer 2012, and progressively deployed it to all Hotmail.com and Live.com email account holders throughout 2013. It now features the cleanest interface of all popular webmail providers: it loads fast, and supports a lot of keyboard shortcuts to make you sift through your inbox messages even faster!
The entire sign up process takes place online, from a web browser: first, open a new window or browser tab, and go to www.hotmail.com - once the page has loaded, you should see the sign in form, where users enter their email address and password (where you'll go when you have an account!) If someone's inbox opens, click on the username (top right corner) and choose "Sign out" from the dropdown: start over and you'll now see the Sign-in form.
To create your new email address, click on the "Sign up now" link below the form - the next page will load a short sign up form that collects the minimum amount of information to get started:
Start by entering your first and last name: email messages you send from Hotmail will show them exactly as you entered them here - and that's something you can change that later on. Then, choose your birth date and gender: pick the right birthday, as this information might be checked during the password reset process in case you can no longer access your account!
This section collects your desired email address and password. In theory, you can choose any email address you want, but there are two limitations: first, Microsoft blocks certain keywords from becoming a username (most notably brand names like "Hotmail", to avoid spammers' junk messages looking like legitimate communications) - and second, user names that are already taken by someone else. Type the username for your email address under "Microsoft account name" - only use letters, numbers, or the following symbols to avoid an error message: period (.), hyphen (-), or underscore (_). Your email address is "case-insensitive" (uppercase and lowercase letters are considered the same). Here's an example of a valid email address, though a very hard to remember!
Tip: if a username you want is taken for "
hotmail.com", try a different domain, like "
outlook.com" or "
live.com", which might still be up for grabs! Depending on your country, you may have access to local domain names, like "
@hotmail.ca" for Canada, "
Your password must be at least eight-characters long, and contain a mix of uppercase / lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols (like "!@#$%^&*_") - to make it harder to guess. It is "case sensitive", so be sure to remember which letters capitalized! (You can change your password later on.)
This part of the form may seem like a hassle, but will be a godsend if you ever forget your password, or if your account is hacked: then, you'll be able to quickly regain access to your account by verifying this information! Start by entering your cell phone's country, and typing your phone number in the next field: this information is used to send you a password hint or reset link as an SMS text message.
Note: your mobile phone number can also be used as a security feature when you login to Hotmail from a public computer (at a library, for example). You would then click on "Sign in with a single-use code" to have Microsoft send you a one-time-usage, temporary password!
Although you only have to pick one of the following security measures, let's fill out both:
Now enter your country and zip / postal code - this information taylors the type of content (and ads) you are seeing, but also customizes the time of day and weather information you see with certain themes (doesn't apply to the new Outlook.com, which only changes background color, without any picture).
The "captcha" test at the bottom of the sign up form simply ensures that you are a person, and not spammer software ("spambot") trying to automatically sign up for an email address used to blast junk mail. Try your best to match the characters displayed: click "New" to show another word-matching test, or "Audio" to get a spoken word to transcribe. You'll get multiple chances until you get it right:
Once everything is filled-in, Microsoft automatically redirects to your new inbox, with a welcome email from the Outlook Team. Notice that your name appears in the top right corner of the page; if you ever forget your email address, click on that first message, or look at the web browser's title bar:
Tip: the next phase is to learn how to login to your email inbox (now also your "Microsoft Account"), which options to use in what scenarios, what security features are at your disposal, etc. To discover this and much more, check out our "Hotmail Sign in" tutorial (also on a single page!)
Click on the settings icon (gear in the top right corner), and choose "More mail settings".
On the Hotmail Options page, click on "Account details" (the first link).
A new window will open to your Microsoft Account page - enter your password if prompted to to so. Under Account Summary, click on "Edit Display Name"; enter a new first name and/or last name, and click Save. You can now close this window: the next email you send will reflect your new display name!
Click on the settings gear icon in the top right corner, and pick "More mail settings".
Click on "Account details" in the Hotmail Options screen that loads next. Make sure that your popup blocker doesn't prevent the Microsoft Account page to open.
Click "Change password". For security reasons, re-enter your current password in the first field; now enter your new password twice and click Save. Start using your new credentials right away, and update any browser that automatically logs in to Hotmail and/or "remembers" your email password:
By default, your Hotmail account doesn't include any email signature, so you'll just have to manually type your name and other information. But if you find yourself doing that often, it's much easier to add (or change) your signature. From your inbox, click on the Settings button (gear icon in the top right corner), and choose "More mail settings".
On the Options screen, click on the "Formatting, font and signature" link (the first one under Writing Email). At the bottom of the next page, enter all the information you want inside the Personal Signature text box: as long as "Rich text" is selected on the right (it is by default), you'll be able to use formatting, colors, web links, and even images . When you are done, click on the Save button: The next email message you send will automatically append your new signature!