Part of the problem most of us face when dealing with emails is "inbox madness" - it is so easy to sign up for newsletters, exchange messages with anyone, that our inboxes soon become close to unmanageable. Well, the latest version of Windows Live Hotmail addresses that by giving us one more tool to help come with this deluge of messages. But before we go on with this tutorial, let us mention a little know setting that allows you to ensure that only emails from your contacts reach your inbox: learn more on configuring Hotmail spam settings. In this tutorial, we will explain how to leverage "Active Views" and "Quick Views" to quickly go through important email messages, not just in your inbox, but also in any other email folder in your account - by filtering out the other messages, and only showing emails from contacts!
When you are inside your inbox, all messages are shown by default: Read, Unread, personal emails and official newsletters - from contacts, non-contacts, and spammers (those fortunately few that still make it through Hotmail's spam filters!)
But notice the list of links Hotmail shows below the current folder name, and above the listing of emails it contains: these are the Hotmail Active Views filters which, unless you read or were told about, are easy to miss:
By default, whenever you load the content of an email folder, the "All" link appears in bold (as shown on the screenshot above) - boldfaced text indicates that this is the filter currently engaged. When "All" is bold, it essentially means that no Active View filter is applied to the folder, and you are seeing every single message it contains.
Click on the "From contacts" link, third from the left, and within a couple of seconds, Hotmail will only display messages from people you have added as contacts for this particular email account. The number of Unread messages next to "Inbox" has not changed, because this is a filter: in other words, it doesn't affect other messages in any other way than temporarily hiding them, these filters don't move or delete anything.
And look at the Active Views toolbar: the "From contacts" link is now bold:
And you'll be familiar with all names you see in the email listing, because that's all you are seeing: contacts! You can now proceed as usual, and go through your emails, and either leave as-is, file, or delete these messages as you read them. Also note that if you double-click on a message to read it in full width, clicking on the "Previous message" or "Next message" buttons will respect the filter currently in place: in other words, you'll be seeing the next message from contact or previous message from contact, not (necessarily) the next message in the folder order.
All it takes to get back to the default view and show emails from anyone in the current folder, not just contacts, is a click on the "All" link inside the Active Views toolbar.
Tip: if you switch to another email folder in your Hotmail account, and go back to the folder in which you applied the "From contacts only" filter, Hotmail will automatically show the default view (displaying messages from everyone). This is probably a "usability" feature, to make sure that users don't erroneously think that they haven't received a message after forgetting that the "From contacts" Active View is still turned on!