In the summer 2011 batch of upgrades the Windows Live team released for all Hotmail users, we saw the addition of "Quick Views": these are "virtual folders" that allow you to see specific email messages with a single click, in much the same way a "saved search" works. Before this tutorial explains how to use Hotmail Quick Views, let's clarify the concept: if you have ever used Gmail or Opera Mail, you'll be familiar with "labels": an email can appear in multiple places at the same time if it has several labels attached to it. This works the same way with Quick Views: the email stays in its current folder, but will also appear under the relevant view (even if you later move that message to another folder!)
On this page: Using Quick Views | Flagged | Photos | Office Docs | Shipping Updates
Note: Quick Views work from the "web browser" version of Hotmail - checking emails from a program like Windows Live Mail, you'll only see regular folders.
Windows Live Hotmail offers four built-in Quick Views at this time: to see them, look under your email folder listing on the left side of the screen. You may need to scroll down or collapse the folder list by clicking on the disclosure triangle button. If you see a hollowed arrow next to Quick Views, click on it to expand them.
Clicking on the flag of an message in your Hotmail account marks it as "flagged", and show a red flag icon next to it; before Quick Views, you had to visually isolate these emails: now you can just click on "Flagged", and Hotmail will gather all these emails, regardless of their current location, and display them inside the email listing pane, as shown on the screenshot (a blue background indicates current quick view).
If you unflag a message (from this Quick View or a regular email folder), it will be hidden next time you load that view. Although Quick Views are "dynamic folders", they load very fast because Hotmail progressively keeps track of emails in the background, as they arrive to your inbox, as you flag or unflag them, etc.
Tip: Hotmail tells you when a view contains unread emails by showing you the Quick View's label in bold letters (the screenshot above shows both cases).
The Photos Quick View automatically filters out all messages to show only those that contain a picture of some kind: notice from the screenshot below that Hotmail is smart enough to detect messages that contain a graphic file as attachment, but also "inline images" - these are pictures linked from within the email itself, and not sent attached - see how one message doesn't show the attachment icon:
The third Hotmail view is "Office docs", which allows you to filter all message that contain Office files as email attachment: OneNote and Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, etc. This is a much quicker way to locate these than going through all emails that contain attachments or trying to remember and search for a message by subject line. Here's an example, and you can tell that all messages in the Quick View show the "attachment" paperclip icon:
If you ever order stuff online, you'll love the "Shipping updates" Quick View: it lets you see all your package tracking emails and order confirmations throughout your Hotmail inbox and other folders. Before, you had to keep these packing slip messages in your inbox, or search for them in other email folders. No longer!
Notice that Hotmail displays shipping and tracking notifications from UPS, USPS (PayPal), and FedEx (keyboard order). Here's a Hotmail Active View embedded inside an email confirmation message for a package delivery that came from eBay:
Tip: Active Views are turned on by default in your Hotmail account, but you can disable them by going through options - they are also used to preview slideshows and YouTube videos from within Hotmail messages themselves.