Using Outlook.com with your own domain or current email address

Outlook.com buttonDid you know that you can set up an Outlook.com account (formerly known as Hotmail) with your own current email address or personal domain and don’t necessarily have to use an @outlook.com address?

This allows you to both send and receive emails with an address which you already own, even if it is from another provider such as Gmail.

Using an Outlook.com account is a great alternative for your current POP3 or IMAP account if you want to sync your emails, contacts and calendar items with multiple devices such as your desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet or smartphone. It behaves a lot like a personal (hosted) Exchange or Office 365 for Business account but for free.

Setting this up is relatively quick and easy but there are some pitfalls to notice. This guide walks you through the entire process of setting up an Outlook.com account with your own current email address and how to transfer all your current data.


Step 1: Create a Microsoft Account with an @outlook.com address

Microsoft Account buttonA Microsoft Account is basically your username to make use of various Microsoft services such as Outlook.com, OneDrive, Xbox and even Windows 8 or Windows 10. This username can be any existing email address you already own or a new Outlook.com address.

If you already have an @outlook.com address, then you can use that one or create a new one. If you already have a Microsoft Account for your current email address, it is important that it also has an @outlook alias configured with it.

Option 1: Create a new @outlook.com address

  1. To sign up for an Outlook.com account go to https://outlook.com and click on the Create account link in the top right corner.
  2. Fill out the form with the address that you want to use.

    Create a new Outlook.com account.

  3. Follow the instructions to personalize your account and complete the signup process.
  4. You’ll be directly taken to your new Outlook.com mailbox and be asked to set your Language, Time zone, pick a theme, and create a signature.

Create a new Outlook.com account. Done!

Option 2: Add an @outlook.com address to your current Microsoft Account

  1. To add an @outlook.com address to your current Microsoft Account, got to https://account.live.com/names/Manage.
  2. In the “Account aliases” section, click on the “Add email” link.
  3. Fill out your preferred alias @outlook.com alias and click on the “Add alias” button.
  4. Once returned to the “Account aliases” overview, click the “Make primary” link behind your newly added @outlook.com address.
    • This is needed to be able to configure Outlook. You’ll still be able to login with your other alias if you want.

Adding an @outlook.com alias to your Microsoft Account. (click on image to enlarge)
Adding an @outlook.com alias to your Microsoft Account.

Step 2: Receive emails from your current address in Outlook.com

Send/Receive buttonNow that you have a Microsoft Account with an @outlook.com address, you can configure it to receive email from your current mail account. There are 2 methods you can use;

  • Method 1: Use a Connected Account
    This method is an all-in-one solution that is easy to set up. Aside from receiving your emails, it also allows you to still send out with your current address as well, instead of using the @outlook.com address.
     
  • Method 2: Configure a forwarder for your current address
    This method is a bit more technical to set up and requires proper forwarding support by your current ISP. However, the benefit of this method is that emails sent to your current address will arrive almost instantly in Outlook.com instead of every 30 – 60 minutes. Optionally, you can configure Outlook.com to send out with your current email address as well.

Method 1: Use a Connected Account

  1. Connected Accounts buttonGo to the Outlook.com webpage and sign in if you are not automatically signed in already.
  2. In the top right corner but on the left of your name, you’ll see a gear icon. Click on it and from the menu that pops up choose: Connected accounts. (This option is currently not available in the new Outlook.com BETA interface.)

    Outlook.com - Options - Connected accounts

  3. In the “Add a connected account section” click on “Gmail” when your original account is a Gmail account or otherwise click on “Other email accounts”.
  4. Specify your account credentials and set your options.
    • When you are only going to add a single Connected Account or when this account is your main account, then it is recommended to se the option: Import into existing folders, such as Inbox, Sent Items, and Draft, and create folders for others.
    • If your current account only has a limited amount of storage, it is best to add it as a POP3 account instead of an IMAP account. You can then disable the option “Leave a copy of messages on the server”.
    • To make sure your account is being added as a POP3 account, it might require you to choose the manual configuration type.
  5. Once configured, the emails from your other account, that are still on the mail server, will be imported into your Outlook.com mailbox.
    • The mail collecting is being done in increments so if you have a lot of email still on your POP3 account, this could take a while.
    • To make changes to your Connected Account configuration, you can double click the account or select it and then press the pencil icon.

Connected accounts on Outlook.com
Connected accounts on Outlook.com.

Method 2: Configure a forwarder for your current address

  1. Forward buttonAdd your current address as an alias.
    Before creating a forwarder, we’ll first make sure that your current email address is added as an alias to your Microsoft Account. This will reduce the likelihood that all forwarded messages will be marked as spam.
    • Go to the Manage how you sign in to Microsoft page and click on “Add email” if your current address hasn’t been added yet. Follow the instructions to complete adding the alias address.
  2. Configure a forwarder with your current email provider.
    Logon to the web based mailbox provided by the ISP that hosts your mailbox or logon to the control panel to manage the mail settings for your custom domain to set up forwarding. As this is different for each mail provider, it is hard to be more specific. If you can’t find it, it is best to contact your current provider and ask for it.
    Once you’ve found it, configure it to forward the emails to your @outlook.com address.
    For example, this is how it will look like in Gmail;

    By configuring Gmail to forward all your emails to your @outlook.com address, you don’t have to worry about missing any emails that are still sent to your Gmail address.
    To configure Gmail to forward your emails, use the Forwarding and POP/IMAP section in your Gmail settings.

  3. Optionally: Configure your account as a Send Only account in Outlook.com.
    Instead of adding your Connected Account account as a “send-and-receive account” as instructed in Method 1, you can also add it as a “SMTP send only” account instead. This will allow you to still send as this address from Outlook.com while at the same time prevent Outlook.com from generating duplicates by collecting the emails itself as well. To do this;
    • Choose: Other email accounts-> Select: Manually configure account settings (POP, IMAP or Send Only account)-> press OK-> select: SMTP send only connection settings

Outlook.com - Connected Accounts - Manual Configuration - SMTP send only
You can manually configure a SMTP Send Only account.

Step 3: Connect to your Outlook.com account in Outlook

Add Account buttonYou’re done with the web configuring part and now it is time to get everything into Outlook. This is an easy process by using Auto Account Setup.

  • Outlook 2007
    Tools-> Account Settings…-> Add Account
  • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
    File-> Add Account

Depending on your version of Outlook, you’ll get one of the dialogs below.

Configuring an Outlook.com account in Outlook via Auto Account Setup (click on image to enlarge)

When you get the dialog shown above, fill out your name, email address and password. When you have Two-Step Verification enabled for your Outlook.com or Microsoft Account, then you’ll have to use a special App Password instead of your regular password.

Welcome to Outlook - Enter an email address to add your account.

When you get this screen, fill out your name and press the Connect button. When you’ve already stored your credentials for this account in Windows, the account will be added directly. If not, you’ll get prompted for your password. When you have Two-Step Verification enabled for your Outlook.com or Microsoft Account, then you’ll have to use a special App Password instead of your regular password.

Step 4: Configure a POP3 Send Only account (optional)

Send Only Account buttonCurrently, when you configure your Outlook.com in Outlook, Outlook doesn’t allow you to actually send as an address that is configured as a Connected Account or custom domain alias in Outlook.com.

When you are using Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016, these type of aliases are shown in the From dropdown menu, but when you try to send as such an alias, the recipient will see it as;

  • Your Name <youralias@outlook.com> on behalf of Your Name <your.name@example.com>

To prevent this from happening and not show the @outlook.com address, you can add your the mailbox of your current address as a Send Only account in Outlook.

  1. If the account of your current address isn’t configured in Outlook yet as a POP3 account, do this first. Contact your ISP is Auto Account Setup fails and you don’t know the server settings for your account.
  2. Open the Send/Receive Groups dialog by pressing the CTRL+ALT+S keyboard shortcut or as an alternative use:
    • Outlook 2007
      Tools-> Options…-> tab Mail Setup-> button Send/Receive…
    • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
      File-> Options-> Advanced-> button Send/Receive…
  3. In the Send/Receive Groups dialog press the Edit… button.
  4. In the left section, select the POP3 account.
  5. In the Account Options section, disable the option for “Receive mail items”.
  6. Press the OK button until you have closed all open dialogs.
  7. Open your Account Settings.
    • Outlook 2007
      Tools-> Account Settings…
    • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2017
      File-> Account Settings-> Account Settings…
  8. Select your POP3 account and use the Change Folder button at the bottom to set the delivery folder of the POP3 account to the Inbox of your Outlook.com account.

Configure a POP3 account as a Send Only account.
To send as your non-@outlook.com address and prevent duplicates in Outlook, you must disable the Receive process of your POP3 account.

Step 5: Transfer your data (optional)

Move to Folder buttonWith the Outlook.com account now configured in Outlook, you can start transferring your current email, contacts and calendar items to the Outlook.com account so that you can sync them to multiple devices.

Important!
Before starting with the transfer, make a good backup of your current pst-file. This way, when things go wrong, you can easily restore your pst-file and start over.

Mail

Moving your emails is quite easy; Select all your messages in the Inbox with CTRL+A and move them to the Inbox of your Outlook.com account via drag & drop or use the Move option in the Edit Menu (Outlook 2007) or on the Ribbon (Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016). You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+V or right click on your selection to move your messages.

Tip!
If you left all your mail on the server, then Outlook.com has also downloaded them. Moving the messages will result in duplicates. To prevent this, empty your Outlook.com Inbox before you start moving emails. When you move the emails, the read/unread/reply/forward status is kept, as well as any assigned Follow Up Flags and Categories.

For messages in other folders, you can directly move the entire folder via drag & drop or by right clicking on the folder and select the Move Folder option. Any subfolders are automatically transferred as well and the folder structure will be preserved.

Calendar items (CTRL+2)

Moving Calendar items is a bit more tricky but definitely not impossible.

The easiest way to move all your Calendar items at once is by placing your Calendar folder in a list view such as the All Appointments list view or the By Category view. Once you’ve done that, you can again move them via the CRTL+A and drag & drop method.

To change the view of your Calendar folder to a list view use;

  • Outlook 2007
    View-> Current View-> All Appointments
  • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
    tab View-> button Change View-> List

Contacts (CTRL+3)

Moving your Contacts is similar to moving your Inbox messages; Press CTRL+A to select them all and then move them via drag & drop or one of the other move options available.

Tasks (CTRL+4)

To move your Tasks, press CTRL+A to select them all and then move them via drag & drop or one of the other move options available.

Notes (CTRL+5)

When you are storing Notes in Outlook, you can also transfer these via the regular CTRL+A and move options available. However, the Notes feature is no longer being further developed in Outlook and the use of OneNote is recommended. To migrate your Notes from Outlook to OneNote see: Export Outlook Notes to OneNote.

Journal (CTRL+8)

When you were using the Journal, you can transfer the items by placing the folder into the Entry List view and then use the CTRL+A and move options available.

Step 6: Remove your old POP3/IMAP account

Remove Account buttonWith all your data transferred and Outlook.com automatically collecting your new emails, you can remove your old POP3 or IMAP account from Outlook (unless you are using it as a Send Only POP3 account) and set the Outlook.com mailbox as the main mailbox if it isn’t already.

  1. Set your Outlook.com account as the default account.
    • Outlook 2007
      Tools-> Account Settings…-> select your Outlook.com account-> button: Set as Default
    • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
      File-> Account Settings-> Account Settings…-> select your Outlook.com account-> button: Set as Default
  2. In that same dialog box, set your Outlook.com mailbox as the default Data File.
    • Outlook 2007
      tab Data Files-> select your Outlook.com mailbox-> button: Set as Default
    • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
      tab Data Files-> select your Outlook.com mailbox-> button: Set as Default
  3. Accept any warning you might get about changing your default Mail Delivery Location.
  4. Restart Outlook.
  5. Return to the Account Settings dialog box from step 1.
  6. Select your POP3 or IMAP account and press Remove.
  7. Optionally; Switch to the Data Files tab and remove the pst-file from your POP3 account (this will not delete the pst-file from your disk).

Set your Outlook.com mailbox as the default data file and optionally remove your pst-file.
Set your Outlook.com mailbox as the default data file and optionally remove your pst-file.

Synching with Smartphones and Tablets (Exchange ActiveSync)

Exchange ActiveSync buttonAccessing your mail, calendar and contacts stored within an Outlook.com on a smartphone or tablet is really easy.

With a bit of additional configuration, you can also make your Tasks, Notes and Journal available on these devices.

Synching Mail, Calendar and Contacts

As mentioned, a big benefit of having an Outlook.com account is that you can sync your Mail, Contacts and Calendar with multiple devices. These devices don’t have to be PCs or laptops but can also be tablets (iPad/Android/Surface) or smartphones (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, etc…).

In these cases, the sync is done via the Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) protocol. Most devices have built-in support for configuring Outlook.com accounts (there is also an Outlook app for iPhone and iPad and Android) but in case you need to do it manually, you can use the following configuration settings;

Server/URLeas.outlook.com
UsernameE-mail address in full
Domain<empty>
SSLenabled
CertificateAccept the SSL certificate when prompted

If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, then you can also configure your Outlook.com account in the Mail, Calendar and People apps to get Lock Screen and Start Screen information about upcoming appointments. For details see: Live Tiles for Outlook on Windows 8.

Synching Tasks, Notes and Journal

While the Tasks, Notes and Journal folders sync with other Outlook for Desktop installations, these folders do not sync to all other devices when using Exchange ActiveSync or the Outlook app. You can consider the following alternatives;

Tasks
Tasks syncing via the EAS protocol is supported but many Mail apps, including the Outlook app for iOS and Android, do not sync this folder. Microsoft has developed a separate app called To-Do which is dedicated to Tasks management. It uses the Tasks folder in your Outlook.com for storage so everything stays synchronized. You can get the free app for Windows 10, iPhone and iPad, Android or use it in your favorite Internet browser .

Notes
The Notes folder isn’t available unless you are using Outlook for Desktop. As an alternative to the Notes folder in Outlook, you could consider using OneNote instead. OneNote 2010 and later can also sync your locally stored OneNote Notes to the Internet (OneDrive) with your Microsoft Account. There is also a free dedicated OneNote App by Microsoft for Windows 10, Mac, iPhone and iPad, Android, and Windows Phone or use it in your favorite Internet browser.

Journal
There is no real alternative to the Outlook Journal but you can create an additional Calendar folder and create a new view which is using a Timeline layout. Then you can use Appointments to create “Journal” entries. You could of course also leave it in the Day/Week/Month view for a more diary style Journal. This additional Calendar folder will automatically sync with any Mail app.

Domain owners: Outlook.com or Office 365 Exchange Online?

Exchange Online buttonWhen you want to host multiple email accounts at Outlook.com and want it to handle all the emails for your entire domain, then switching to Office 365 Exchange Online might be the better solution even though this isn’t free (unless you are a non-profit organization).

When you choose to go this route, you don’t have to configure Outlook.com to collect your mail via POP3 or configure any forwarder. Mail is then being received instantly as if it was a native domain of Outlook.com itself.

The costs depend on the country that you live in but currently a single mailbox costs $4 per month. As the domain owner, this also provides you with lots of management options and you have the additional benefit of being able to share email, calendar and contact folders between your colleagues as well as creating shared mailboxes. You can find out more here: Compare Exchange Online plans. (You can switch your language and geographical location at the bottom left of the page.)

A better deal might be the Office 365 Business Essentials subscription for $5 per month. In addition to the above benefits, it will also grant each user with 1TB of online storage (OneDrive for Business), Office Online, Skype for Business (online conferencing) and a collaboration website (SharePoint based).

Note:
Microsoft used to offer “Custom domain management” for Outlook.com via the Windows Live Admin Center (domains.live.com) and later via Outlook.com Premium. Both offers have been discontinued but previously configured mailboxes will continue to work. The recommendation is to switch to any of the aforementioned Office 365 subscriptions.