As soon as you create a Hotmail account, you have established the credentials you will use to access your Windows Live account and emails: the email address, or "Windows Live ID", is your user name; and the password you chose will be the second piece of information you need to sign into your email account. As the main line of defense against hackers or unwanted intrusion into your account by others having access to your computer, it is important to understand the Hotmail sign in options at your disposal (especially when checking your emails from someone else's computer).
Tip: note that the purpose of this tutorial is to give you a brief introduction; for much more in-depth analysis, please see our separate Hotmail Sign in website.
Here is a screenshot of the standard, default Hotmail sign in form: when you are not logged into your Hotmail account, the sign in screen will contain a sign up form for new users (the same form you presumably used to create a Hotmail account in the first place), and the sign in form itself for existing users.
By default, both email address and password fields are blank, and the two checkboxes below them are unchecked. Whenever you need to check your emails, all you need to do is enter both of these values and click on the "Sign in" button.
But if you check the "Remember me" checkbox before that, Hotmail will create a "cookie" (small text file whose content your web browser can read at a later time) containing your email address. And the next time you visit the Hotmail sign in form, your Windows Live ID will be automatically inserted for you (no need to type it!)
This is a handy and safe option to use Hotmail.com on your own computer, or a PC/Mac that only people you trust have access to. In that case, people would at worst know what your email address is. But the second checkbox is much more powerful.
If you check the "Remove my password" checkbox (in which case "Remember me" will be checked as well), Windows Live Hotmail will not only store your email address to a cookie, but it will also store a value that lets it know later on that you should automatically sign in to Hotmail, without going through the login process of entering your credentials. This is the most practical way to access Hotmail, but also one you should never use to sign in from a public computer, or whenever people you don't trust can access that particular machine (they, too, would be automatically signed in to your account, and be able to read your email messages).
By default, the new Windows Live Hotmail will automatically use the secure version of the sign in form; inside your web browser, the internet address of the page should start with "
https:", as shown on the screenshot below:
If it is not the case (i.e., the URL starts with "
https:", without an "
s"), you can manually insert the "s" by typing it inside the address bar. Another safety feature of the new Hotmail sign in form is the "single use sign in code", discussed below.
When you want to check your emails from a computer used by others, especially people you don't know or explicitly don't trust, you can sign in to Hotmail my using a special code; notice that beneath the "Sign in" button is a link labeled "Get a single use code to sign in with", shown in the following screenshot:
A later tutorial will explain in details how to get your single use sign in code, and use it as login option. In summary, it is a temporary password generated by Windows Live Hotmail to let you login without having to use your actual password, which could be captured with a "key logger" (piece of software that records keystrokes typed on a keyboard), etc. Since the code that is sent to your cell phone can only be used once, no-one will be able to use it another time to login to your Hotmail account!
Since, as a Hotmail user, you will possibly face a number of different sign in problems, we decided to devote a separate tutorial to cover the most common technical issues you are likely to face when trying to access your account. To get a better understanding of what happens behind the scenes while and after you sign in to your account, please see Hotmail Login for an in-depth discussion.