Using the Outlook Hotmail Connector

Windows Phone devices do not sync contacts and appointments to a local computer via ActiveSync or Windows Mobile Device Center.  Instead Windows Phone syncs contact and appointment data directly to web-based services, such as Outlook.com or to an Exchange Server account.

When I switched over from Windows Mobile devices to my first Windows Phone 7 device, I spent some time exploring the Outlook Hotmail Connector as a way to manage my contacts and appointments on my local computer while also providing a way to make the data available for my new Windows Phone 7. In this tutorial I use Outlook 2010 to demonstrate setting up the Outlook Hotmail Connector. The menu settings are similar for Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007, but you may have to hunt around for them a bit to find them.

If you’re running Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010 on your computer, you’ll need to install the Outlook Hotmail Connector, which is an Add-in to Outlook before you’ll be able to sync your Outlook data to an Outlook.com, Live.com, or Hotmail.com account (all these accounts are now referred to as an Outlook.com account) and on to a Windows Phone.

Install and Set up the Outlook Hotmail Connector

  • Download the Outlook Hotmail Connector and install it to your computer
  • After you’ve installed the Outlook Connector to your computer, open up Outlook.  You may see a “Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector” box with the question “Would you like to add a Hotmail Account?”  Select the Yes button, then input your Outlook.com email address and password in the space provided.

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  • If you don’t see that option, you can set up your Outlook.com account within Outlook 2010 by selecting File > Account Settings > Account Settings > New

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Select Other > Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector > Next

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Input your Outlook.com (or Live.com or Hotmail.com) email address & password in the space provided.

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Give Outlook a few minutes to sync the new Outlook.com (formerly known as “windows live”) folder structure to the computer.  Then you can copy your contacts and calendar data from your personal folders to the newly created Outlook.com (probably labeled “windows live”) folders.

Copy Contact & Calendar data to the Windows Live folders

The Outlook Hotmail Connector only syncs the data that is stored in the Contacts and Calendar folders within the Windows Live folder in Outlook…..The Connector does not sync any data that is stored in the Personal folder. If you’ve been using Outlook for a while all your contacts and appointments are currently stored in folders within your Personal folder. To sync this data to your Microsoft account, you’ll need to copy or move this data from your Personal folders to the Windows Live folders that were created when you set up the Outlook Hotmail Connector. Afterwards you need to STOP adding new data or modifying the data in your Personal folders if you want these additions and edits to be synced to your Microsoft account.

Copy your Contacts from the Local Contact folder to the Windows Live Contacts folder

  • Open up the Contacts Folder in Outlook’s Personal Folders
  • Display the “Phone List” view (select View > Change View > Phone)
  • Select Edit > Select All (Ctrl+A)
  • Select Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C)
  • Select the Windows Live Contacts folder
  • Select Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V)

Copy your Appointments from the Local Calendar folder to the Windows Live Calendar folder

  • Open up the Calendar Folder in Outlook’s Personal Folders
  • Display the “All Appointments” view (select View > Change View > List)
  • Select Edit > Select All (Ctrl+A)
  • Select Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C)
  • Select the Windows Live Calendar folder
  • Select Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V)

Now you’ll need to change a few Outlook account settings to make the transition to Outlook.com as transparent as possible.

Change Outlook Account Settings

Open up Outlook on your computer:

  • Outlook 2003: select Tools > Account Settings
  • Outlook 2007 & 2010: select File > Account Settings > Account Settings

E-mail: If you’re like me and use Outlook to manage a several different email accounts on your local computer, you’ll want to check the E-mail tab to make sure the appropriate email account is set as your default account – otherwise your email might get sent from your Outlook.com account.

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Data Files:  Set your Outlook.com account as the default Outlook account – Select File > Account Settings > Account Settings. Click the Data Files tab and highlight your Outlook.com/Windows Live/Hotmail account and click the “Set as Default” option.

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Address Books:  Because you won’t be using the local Contacts folder to store contact information, select the Address Books tab and removed the personal folders from the list of Address Books (this option manages where Outlook goes to look up addresses when creating new emails).

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Now you can continue using Outlook to manage your contacts and appointments and sync your new windows phone to your outlook.com account.  Any changes you make to your contacts or appointments in Outlook or to your outlook.com account will be synced.  Your contacts and appointments on your computer, your windows phone and your outlook.com account will always be in sync with each other and up-to-date.

NOTE: If you are still syncing email from other sources (such as POP3 email account) to Outlook’s Personal Folder, you’ll need to leave your Personal Folders open.  Within this folder are folders for Calendar, Contacts, etc.  Since you won’t be using the Calendar or Contacts folder, you can delete the information that is stored in these folders, but you won’t be able to delete them.

Change Outlook’s startup view:  You’ll probably want to change the start up view of Outlook so the Windows Live folder is prominent. In Outlook 2007 and 2010, select File > Options > Advanced

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Syncing New Information & Edits

All new and edited data that is associated with your Microsoft account (email, contacts and appointments) is synced between Outlook and your Microsoft account whenever you send or retrieve email from within the Outlook desktop software.  You can set up a Send/Receive schedule for the Microsoft account you just created

  • Outlook 2003: Select Tools > Send/Receive > Send Receive Settings > Define Send/Receive Groups
  • Outlook 2007 & 2010: Select Send/Receive > Send/Receive Groups > Define Send/Receive Groups

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You’ll follow the prompts to eventually select your Microsoft account and set up your desired syncing options.

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You’ll notice that you can set your Send/Receive Groups to sync manually whenever you press the F9 button or automatically in time intervals you set. You can also perform an automatic send/receive whenever you exit the Outlook software.

What About Tasks?

When you install the Outlook Hotmail Connector to your computer, you’ll see a new Tasks folder called “Tasks (This computer only)” within the newly created Windows Live folder. Unfortunately, this is just another local folder.  Even though this tasks folder is considered part of the windows live set of folders it does not get synced to Windows Live.

Tasks sync between windows phone and an Outlook.com account, but the Outlook Hotmail Connection will not sync tasks between the desktop version of Outlook and an Outlook.com account. You’ll need to upgrade your desktop version of Outlook to Outlook 2013 to get tasks to sync to an Outlook.com account.  Outlook 2013 incorporates the functionality of the Outlook Hotmail Connection into it so Outlook 2013 does not rely on nor does it experience this inherent limitation of the Outlook Hotmail Connector.

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