This past week Microsoft quietly turned on a new feature for web based Hotmail/Live accounts which allows you to establish either a permanent alternate email address or a throw away email address in your current Hotmail or Live email account.
So what does this alias email address mean anyway?
Let’s say your Hotmail/Live email account is firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the address you provide when you log into your web based email at either Hotmail.com or Live.com.
Using the alias creation function in Hotmail/Live you can create a unique account to send and receive email that does not expose your main email account email@example.com. The creation process allows you to either dump any email to this alias into your main inbox or set up a separate folder in your firstname.lastname@example.org account to catch that correspondence.
Now maybe your asking what exactly would I need an alias for anyway? Well one possible option is that you want to join a mailing list but would prefer to not put your main email address on it in case the mailing list gets compromised and your email address is subjected to spam email. Of course you can filter and sweep those emails to your trash and junk folders but if they are going to a separate email address and the spam gets bad you can simply unsubscribe that alias email address and then create a new alias to rejoin the list – minus the extra spam of course!
All the while your main email@example.com stays spam free and hidden. This will actually eliminate the need to create a new main address every time the spam gets out of control. I use a similar type of process on my main account and it works very well. It also can let me know who might have shared my email address outside of the use it was intended for.
The alias function in Hotmail/Live also allows you to easily send emails from the alias in the Compose screen by clicking on the email address drop down above the To: box.
Here is a quick summary of the process of creating a Hotmail/Live alias email address.
Once your logged into your Hotmail/Live email account click on the Settings icon to the right of the Inbox folder on the left hand side of the display and click on Create a Hotmail alias on the drop down menu.
Here is the dialog box you will get. Type in the alias you want to use and then select either hotmail.com or live.com. This must be a unique address not used anywhere else on Hotmail/Live.
If you pick an alias address that is already in use you will get an error.
If you selected a unique address then you will get a dialog box to have the email placed in its own separate folder or in your main inbox.
After that you are done and your alias email address is ready for use. You will also get an email providing you some further info about using this alias after the setup is complete.
When you no longer need the alias address you can remove it by clicking on the link in the above email that you received when you set up the alias or you can go to your account settings and your list of email addresses to remove it.
Click the Remove button on the right side of the alias you created and you will get this prompt.
Just click Remove and the alias is gone. Any email that comes into that alias account in the future should be rejected as user unknown.
By the way, if you selected to have a separate folder for your alias email you will need to manually delete that folder if you no longer need it. That is a safeguard in case you have email in that folder when you delete the alias email address.
So what do you think? Useful or not? How do you plan to use this alias email address feature?