You can always check your Hotmail account from any internet-connected computer and a web browser. But if you regularly use Hotmail from the same computer (and it is yours), it makes sense to install Windows Live Mail, a free email program by Microsoft that offers the best integration and experience with
live.com email addresses. This tutorial explains how to add Hotmail as a first-time email account, and the end covers adding another or new Hotmail account if you've already setup other accounts in the program. (Note that we cover Windows Live Mail 2011, the version available for Windows Vista and Windows 7 - for Windows XP users, please see the following tutorial instead: Setup Hotmail in Windows Live Mail for XP.)
Tip: see how to download and install Windows Live Essentials if you don't yet have Windows Live Mail on your computer (not all PC manufacturers install it automatically).
Unlike previous versions of the email program, Windows Live Mail 2011 allows you to setup your Hotmail account simply by signing in using your Windows Live ID. When you launch Windows Live Mail for the first time, you will see an "Add your email accounts" dialog. Click on the "Sign in to Windows Live" link as shown below:
In case of error message, go back and double-check the email address and password you entered (your email address should not contain any spaces, and your password is case sensitive - uppercase and lowercase letters are considered different). Otherwise, click on the "Finish" button when you see the "Your email account was added" confirmation message, and Windows Live Mail will start downloading your folders and email messages - the status bar at the bottom of the screen always gives you an update on current activity: "Checking email... Working online".
(You will hear the Windows new mail sound once downloading all emails is done!)
If you already have setup another email account in Windows Live Mail, it will not show the dialog mentioned above when you open the program. In that case, here's how you add a new email address (Hotmail or otherwise).
Click on the "Accounts" tab at the top, in the ribbon, and click on the "Email" button:
When the "Add your email accounts" dialog opens, enter your Hotmail address, your account password (optionally allowing Windows Live Mail to remember it), and your "Display name" - which determines the name that will appear when you send messages from Windows Live Mail using that particular account.