When you are checking your emails from your own computer, safety is generally not much of a concern. But when you sign in to Hotmail from a public computer, or login to any other Windows Live services (like Messenger), you will want to make sure that no-one else can access your account. This is done when you sign out, but there are several cases in which a manual logout is not enough, and this tutorial explains what precautions you should take to protect access to your Hotmail account.
As you may know from our Hotmail login settings tutorial, how you sign in to your account determines for how long you will remain logged in, if you will automatically sign in to Hotmail, if your email address will be remembered by your web browser, etc. Let's now examine the three possible Hotmail logout scenarios, and show you a screenshot of the standard Hotmail Sign in form, for reference in this tutorial:
When you sign in to your Hotmail account, if the "Remember me" and "Remember my password" checkboxes were both unchecked, Windows Live will not keep you logged in for long: this is how you want to login from a public computer, for example.
Once you are done checking your emails, click on the "Sign out" link near the top right corner of each page, as shown on the screenshot below:
As long as you don't ask Hotmail to remember your account information when you signed in, just clicking on the sign out link will do the trick; to double-check that the logout was successful and complete, type "www.hotmail.com" or "www.live.com" in your web browser's address bar, and hit Enter on Windows: (or Return on a Mac)
When you logout successfully from your account, the screen that loads should be the Hotmail Sign in form, and not your inbox or the Windows Live Home page.
If, when you sign in to your Hotmail account, you check the "Remember me" option checkbox, Windows Live will create a "cookie" (a small text file accessed later by your web browser), which will automatically pre-populate your email address inside the "Windows Live ID" text field. To logout, click on the "sign out" link.
Then, type "www.hotmail.com" in your web browser and hit Enter. You should see your email address remembered, as shown in the screenshot below:
This is normal, and simply means that you'll have to retype your password to login - logging out has signed you out, but the cookie that remembers your email address is still there. To make Hotmail "forget" your email address, just move your mouse pointer (cursor) above your address, and click on the "x" close button:
As final confirmation that the logout process is complete, retype "hotmail.com" and hit Enter: you should now see a blank sign in form. (You are signed out!)
When you have chosen to login and make Hotmail remember both your email address and your password (both checkboxes checked in the sign in form), Windows Live will keep you signed in until you manually logout, and clear your account information. Start by clicking on the "sign out" link while inside Hotmail:
Then, type "www.hotmail.com" in your web browser's address bar, and hit Enter (or hit Return on Mac OS X). Your email address will probably still be automatically added to the sign in form: if so, follow the steps in the previous section to clear it.
You should now be completely signed out of Hotmail.com and your email account!
Tip: the "Sign out isn't complete... Finish signing out" error message will be discussed in a later tutorial. Just know that the three sign out techniques explained earlier in this tutorial will fix this issue: make sure to check that you are signed out.