Hotmail Returns to Combat Graymail in Your Inbox

Fair or not, Microsoft Hotmail has been consigned to the AIM and MySpace class of archaic web services – the things you used to use. But, while MySpace fell to Facebook without much of a fight and AIM was knocked out by a one-two punch from Gchat and Facebook, Hotmail is still alive and kicking, despite waning popularity. Some might be surprised to find that Hotmail is still around – there hasn’t been much new heard from that camp in a long time.

That’s finally changing, as Hotmail is undergoing its biggest change in some time in an attempt to reclaim the throne of email king. More impressively, the Microsoft Hotmail team has managed to find a new angle on email that just about everyone can appreciate right now – Hotmail wants to help you conquer graymail.

Graymail is the spam you asked for – all the daily deals, newsletters, reminders, and updates that you signed up for at some point. Some of that stuff you might still look at, but if you’re anything like me, much of it becomes clutter that goes straight to the trash. There are only so many hours in a day, and graymail builds up fast.

The latest version of Hotmail offers users a few different tools to handle graymail by organizing it into a more digestible form. One way users can do that is using Hotmail’s new custom categories. Users can create categories and tag senders and individual emails with that category, similar to categories in Gmail. On top of that, Hotmail has preset categories (like ‘newsletters’) that can automatically sort graymail with up to 95 percent accuracy.

Sweep and Schedule Cleanup are two of the more intriguing new features of Hotmail. Both are malleable tools that can be used to organize or eliminate graymail, depending on your preferences. Sweep allows users to move all emails from a designated sender to another folder, or to the trash. That includes future emails from that sender, as well. Schedule Cleanup adds to Sweep’s functionality, allowing users to keep only the latest email from a sender, or the most recent emails within a time frame chosen by the user. That will be ideal for managing graymail from sites like Groupon, when you only really need to see the most recent emails.

Alias is maybe the best new idea – a separate email address that you can use when signing up for graymail newsletters or notifications. All mail sent to that address will appear in your main account, but in a separate folder that leaves your main inbox free of the clutter that graymail creates. So, if you’re tired of parsing through Groupon deals, Facebook notifications, and newsletters that you accidentally signed up for three or so years ago, Alias will be a very welcome addition.

Graymail adds up fast – Hotmail estimates that 80 percent of the average inbox is made up of the spam we brought on ourselves. Granted, you can choose to unsubscribe to many graymail senders, but it’s worth remembering that we probably signed up for those emails for a reason. Some can still hold our interest – Hotmail is just aiming to make managing that wave of messages a little easier, so you can find the good stuff quickly while enjoying uncluttered access to the messages that are actually important.

Do you want to learn Learn about smart tools from Hotmail to manage your inbox automatically and conquer graymail.

This article has been sponsored by Microsoft and Technorati.  All opinions are my own. 


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  1. i love the new hotmail.  I left Hotmail because of spam.  And it was even more horrible in Yahoo mail.  One of my friends told me about the changes in Hotmail and I was surprised when I came back to Hotmail.  I rarely get junk emails in my inbox.  It took me very little time to organize my mails into folders and define categories.  My inbox is very clean.  Now I dont have to worry about deleting newsletters anymore.  I have defined rules on them and Hotmail takes care of deleting old newsletters.  Kudos to the Hotmail team.

  2. Hey, this is Galileo from the Hotmail team. Thanks for giving us a try. We’re very happy to have you back! If you ever want more tips on how to better use Hotmail, give us a follow over on Twitter @teamhotmail:twitter  and we can chat there.

  3. Today I signed in window live by the first time and I got a big sorprise, I lost all my contacts and my e-mail messeges. I know Hotmail is great but for this change it is doing I did not get enough information and now I do not know what to do if one of the Hotmail team would help me it will be wonderful. Thank you  

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