Dave Taylor

Creating Incoming Mail Filters In Hotmail

By: Dave Taylor
August 18th, 2010
Using Windows Live Hotmail, searching the page for "filter" fails, even though that's what you suggest on your site (see article: How to create custom email filters in MSN Hotmail). Your suggestion is not correct, do you have an update?

Dave's Answer:

You're right, many of the articles on Ask Dave Taylor become obsolete because the user interfaces on the various sites update, tweak or dramatically revamp. Hotmail is definitely on that list and the site isn't even really called "hotmail" any more, actually. Now it's Live.com, though next month, who knows? :-)

After the rise of Google's Gmail and dramatic revamp of Yahoo Mail, the MSN Live Hotmail team clearly felt the pressure to add new features and capabilities, so Hotmail also got a facelift, one that makes the site more attractive and easier to use.

Unless you want to set up mail filters, that is.

I did finally figure out how to create mail filters in MSN Live Hotmail (what a mouthful, can I just call it "Hotmail" and you'll know what I'm talking about?) but it's pretty well hidden...

To start out, I want to create a new mail folder in Hotmail for the messages I receive from the Microsoft Xbox 360 team. On the left side of the screen is a list of your mailboxes along with the link we seek in blue:

hotmail create mail filter 1

Click on "New Folder" and a window pops up:

hotmail create mail filter 2

The folder I'll create is "Xbox Mail". I enter that and press Return (there's no "submit" or "create" button, which I bet confuses plenty of Hotmail users). Done.

Now let's create that filter. Here's my inbox:

hotmail create mail filter 3

I want to filter the message from Xbox Customer Support, so I'll click on it to have it displayed. Now -- and here's the hidden part -- scroll down to the very bottom of the screen and you'll notice the "Sweep" option. Click on it and:

hotmail create mail filter 4

We want "Move all from..." because we want to move all the messages from the Xbox Customer Support team into the Xbox Mail folder.

A new window pops up:

hotmail create mail filter 5

The most important part of this window is the checkbox: "Also move future messages?" By choosing that you create a permanent email filter that will sweep all the messages that match the rule you specify to the folder you specify.

You'll also want to specify where it should be moved to, of course. When I specify both, the window now looks like this:

hotmail create mail filter 6

Looks good! To create it, I need to now click on "Move all".

Now another feature is enabled, but it too is hidden unless you know where to look. It turns out that now there's a secret gear button to the right of the Folders on the left and if you put the cursor over it, the button is revealed. Click on it and...

hotmail create mail filter 7

That's darn useful! Click on "Manage Rules" and you can see what rules you have set up:

hotmail create mail filter 8

(eagle-eyed readers will note that the rule I've created is not related to the Xbox Customer Support messages after all. Why? Because MSN Live Hotmail spits out an error message that the email address is too long for a filter to be created. Uh, what? Hopefully you won't see that when you try to do this, and hopefully the Hotmail team can fix this daft limitation)

About the Author: Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs. AskDaveTaylor.com http://www.intuitive.com/blog/