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Security features in Outlook.com

Outlook.com Security Features | SmartScreen Technology

Security features in Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) can help protect you from spam and fraud.

What is Outlook.com?

Outlook is the free email service from Microsoft. In addition to tools to help you clear clutter, Outlook offers more privacy. You’re in control of your data, and your personal conversations aren’t used for ads.

We don't scan your email content or attachments and sell this information to advertisers or any other company. You decide whether to connect your account to any social networks, and you're in control of who you friend or follow.

Sign in with your Microsoft account

Use your Microsoft account—a single email address and password—to sign in to Outlook. You also use your Microsoft account to sign into any device running Windows 8 or Windows RT and to other Microsoft services like Messenger, Xbox LIVE, and OneDrive.

If you’re looking for information about a compromised account, see How to recover your hacked Microsoft account.

Get rid of spam

Outlook uses Microsoft SmartScreen—the same technology that businesses and governments use to help protect their employee email. SmartScreen works mostly behind the scenes to separate legitimate messages from spam and help keep your inbox free of scams.

When you receive email from a sender that Microsoft has verified, the trusted sender icon appears next to the message. The trusted sender icon is a green shield with a check mark. This icon helps you determine if a message comes from a legitimate sender such as your bank.

If you trust the person or website that sent you a message, you can mark them as safe. This sends any messages from them straight to your inbox.

Spammers sometimes use automated programs to create Outlook or other email accounts and then send junk email from them. That's why Microsoft will periodically prompt you to verify your account.

For more information about getting rid of spam in Outlook and other email programs, see Help keep spam out of your Inbox.

Watch for yellow and red safety bars

Outlook automatically verifies senders and use a safety bar within an email message to warn you about potentially harmful senders.

A yellow safety bar in your email message means that the message contains blocked attachments, pictures, or links to websites. If you don't recognize and trust the sender of the message, don't download any attachments or pictures and don't click any links in the message.

A red safety bar in an email message means that the message you received contains something that might be unsafe and has been blocked by Outlook. We recommend deleting these types of email messages from your inbox without opening them.

Connect with HTTPS

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) helps protect information that's sent over the Internet. Outlook always uses HTTPS to encrypt your sign-in information (logon and password). When you log on to your Outlook account you have extra security when you read or write email.

HTTPS helps keep your account secure from hackers, especially if you commonly use public computers or unsecure wireless connections.

Keep your email address private

If you don't want to give your personal email address to online retailers or others who might send unwanted email, you can create another email address (an "alias") within your account. When someone sends an email to your alias, it goes to a folder in Outlook that you designate. When you're done with the alias, you can delete it.

When you use an alias, people will not know your real email address. This means less spam and more privacy.

Screenshot of create an alias

With Outlook you can create up to five email aliases within your account each year. You can create a different alias for each aspect of your online life. For example, you might have one alias for gaming, one for communicating with old friends, and one for your work life.

For step-by-step instructions in Outlook, see Create an email alias.

Help your hacked friends

If cybercriminals hack into an account, they can use the hacked person's contact list (often the first people to know that an account has been compromised) to send unwanted or even dangerous spam messages. This spam appears to originate from a trusted source, but it can contain malicious links or fake stories about how the sender is in danger and needs money right away.

If you get mail like this, you can use a feature in Outlook to report that someone else's account has been hacked. You can even use this feature for messages from people who use other email providers.

Screenshot of drop-down to report if a friend's account has been hacked

Be safer when you use a public computer

Each time you use your Microsoft account to sign in to webmail from a public computer (like those at airports, coffee shops, and Internet cafes), you can request a single-use code. You use the code only once and avoid typing your real password to sign in to a computer that might be controlled by a cybercriminal.

On the Outlook sign-in page, click Sign in with a single-use code, and Microsoft will send a one-time use authentication code to a mobile phone or another email address that you've already given them.