Similar to other major webmail services, Hotmail uses Ajax programming techniques and supports later versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. Some of its features include keyboard controls giving the ability to navigate around the page without using the mouse, the ability to search the user's messages including structured query syntax such as "from:ebay", message filters, folder-based organization of messages, auto-completion of contact addresses when composing, contact grouping, importing and exporting of contacts as CSV files, rich text formatting, rich text signatures, spam filtering and virus scanning, support for multiple addresses, and different language versions.
In comparison to other webmail services, Hotmail offers the following unique features:
Hotmail's Active view allows users to interact directly with contents and functionalities within their email message. For example, any photo attachments can be previewed directly using Active view. In addition, Hotmail provides a partner platform which allows contents and functionalities from various websites and services such as YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, and United States Postal Service to be viewed directly within the email message. For example, users may view the YouTube video within Hotmail when a user receives an email which contains a link to the video. Other functionalities of Active view include tracking of real time shipping status from United States Postal Service and performing social networking actions on LinkedIn directly from within the email message.
Office Web Apps integration
Hotmail integrates with Office Web Apps to allow high fidelity viewing and editing of Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents that are attached to the email messages. Users can directly open attached Office documents within the web browser, and save them into their Windows Live SkyDrive. Users can also perform edits to any received Office documents, and directly reply to the sender with the edited version of the document. In addition, users may also send up to 10 GB of Office documents (up to 50 MB each) using Hotmail by uploading these documents onto Windows Live SkyDrive, and share these documents with other users for viewing or collaboration.
Hotmail provides the ability to automatically group sent and received emails that are from the same conversation into the same conversation thread, allowing users to quickly browse through all the emails within the same conversation thread. This feature can be turned on or off depending on the user's preferences.
Hotmail offers a "virtual broom" which allow users to delete or move large amounts emails into specified folders based on the sender's information. Once a "sweep" is performed, the user may choose to configure Hotmail to remember the sweep settings and perform the same move or delete actions for any future emails. Users may also set up custom message rules based on the sender's or recipient's information, the subject of the email, or attachments to the email. There is also an option to delete/move messages that are older than a specified amount of days, or only keep the latest message from a sender.
Quick views and one-click filters
Quick views allow users to filter all emails (in all folders) by document attachments, photo attachments, flagged messages, or shipping updates. One-click filters allow users to filter the inbox (or specific folder) based on whether or not the email message is unread, from the Windows Live Contacts list, from group mailing lists or Windows Live Groups, or from a social networking website. Categories appear under Quick views for ease of access.
Users can create Hotmail aliases for their Windows Live ID. Once an alias is set up, users can choose to have all email sent to that address go to a specific folder, or to the inbox. Users can send emails from that alias as if it is a normal email address. Up to 5 aliases can be made every year, and up to 15 in total. Aliases are completely different to the user's original addresses, and can be removed/created at any time. Aliases are not actual Windows Live IDs, so users can not sign in with them.
Categories allow users to label messages or senders into a particular group, and those categories will appear under "Quick views" in the sidebar. Some categories are created by default, and some mail is put in those categories by default (e.g. photos, office docs and newsletters). Users can select multiple categories for each piece of mail, have categories applied automatically, and create new ones.
Instant actions are buttons that appear when a user hovers the mouse over a message. Examples of instant actions are delete, move, sweep, and flag, and they are customizable in options.
Upon registration, new users can choose from a Hotmail domain address (e.g. @hotmail.com and @live.com).
A single-use code is a code you can use instead of your password when you sign in with your Windows Live ID. Each code can be used only one time, but you can request one whenever you need it. If a user is signing in on a public computer—like at the library or school—using a single-use code helps keep your account information secure. Single use code is sent to the user when requested during login.a