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Sync Hotmail With Your iPhone or iPod Touch with Exchange ActiveSync

Would you like to get your Hotmail email, calendar, and contacts on your iPhone or iPod touch?  Here’s how you get Windows Live content synced and pushed to your iOS device for free via Exchange ActiveSync.

While Hotmail has remained one of the most widely used email systems for years, it has not always been the easiest to sync with your programs and mobile devices.  This year, however, Microsoft has given the entire Windows Live suite an overhaul, and Hotmail has gained a number of new features.  Among those is support for Exchange ActiveSync, which lets you get your email, contacts, and calendar pushed to your mobile device.  As soon as you receive a new email, it’ll automatically show up on it, and any changes you make to your accounts will be synced with your online Hotmail account.  This can work with a wide variety of modern smartphones, including Android and iPhone, so here we’ll look at how you can add Hotmail via ActiveSync to your iPhone.

Please Note: In this article we’re using a 3rd Gen iPod Touch running iOS 4.1, but this will work the exact same on any iPhone or iPod Touch running iOS 2.0 or newer.

Adding Your Hotmail Account

If you’ve never added an email account to your iOS device, simply open the Mail app to get started.  Alternately, add a new email account from your Mail settings.  Select Microsoft Exchange to get started adding your account.

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Enter your Hotmail email address as both your Email and Username, then enter your standard Hotmail password and a description for your account.  Leave the Domain field blank.  Mail will now try to verify your account.  Do note that this will work with all Hotmail accounts, including those on international domains, alternate Microsoft domains such as @live.com or @msn.com, or with Windows Live on your own domain.

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After a few seconds, the screen will refresh, this time showing a field for Server.  Enter m.hotmail.com in this field, and then Mail will verify your account again.

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Now, choose if you want to sync your contacts and calendars as well.  If you do, press On, then press Save.

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The Mail app will now open in your Hotmail inbox, and will sync your messages automatically.  Do note that, by default, it will only download emails received within the last 3 days, so if you don’t have any recent messages in your inbox, you may not see any messages at first.

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Your Hotmail emails will automatically be pushed to your device as they’re received, so you’ll never have to worry about not getting your emails.

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You’ll immediately see your Windows Live Calendar in the Calendar app, and any changes you make will be synced back with your online account.

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In fact, if you have multiple calendars in your Live Calendar, all of them will be synced with your device.  Calendars added from iCal files or auto-generated by Hotmail will be shown as Read-only, but your main calendar will be fully editable.  You can choose to turn off any of the calendars if you wish.

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Your Hotmail contacts will also now show up in your Contacts app, and all of your contact groups will be synced as well.

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Change Your Default Hotmail ActiveSync Settings

If you’d like to change your account settings, open up the Settings app and select Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

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Here you can change a wide variety of settings about your Mail, Contacts, and Calendar apps.  If you need to change settings in your Hotmail account, select it from the top.

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You can change your account info, turn on or off Mail, Contacts, and Calendars syncing, choose the number of days to sync and the folders to push, or delete your account.

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Alternately, from the first Mail Settings screen, you can choose which address book and calendar are used by default.  If you change these to use your Hotmail account by default, then any new contacts or appointments you add will automatically be synced to your online Hotmail account.

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Hotmail worked great with Exchange ActiveSync, and definitely is a huge improvement over syncing via POP3.  Plus, Hotmail has also improved their mobile webpage, so if you still find yourself needing to use Hotmail.com in the browser, it’ll work good, too.

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If you’re still using Outlook on your desktop, check out our article on how to sync your Hotmail account with Outlook 2010 so your mail, calendar, and contacts will be on your iOS device, your PC, and the cloud.

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 10/22/10

Comments (45)

  1. Ray

    You can also setup sync to gmail with exchange activesync too. :)

  2. Prashant

    Great! is it possible to use Hotmail account with Apple Mail app.. I’m currently using POP3 to get mail on my Mac it is just a painful

  3. Matthew Guay

    @Prashant – Unfortunately, this is using Exchange ActiveSync, which is for mobile devices only. As far as I know, there’s no way of using it this way with Apple Mail (Mail in OS X), Entourage, or Outlook (though there’s the Hotmail connector for Outlook.).

  4. Ravi

    If I have a number of folders in hotmail containing my old emails. Will this method sync those emails too i.e. will I be able to move new emails to these folders manually and keep everything in sync?

  5. Matthew Guay

    @Ravi – Yes you can sync other folders but you’ll have to add them to the push settings if you want new emails in those folders to be pushed to your devices

  6. Kisha

    For someone reason i can set it up but my ipod keeps telling me the password is incorrect but I can login to hotmail on my PC and web based hotmail.

  7. Megan

    Sadly, this only half worked for me. I set the account up fine and it’s helpful that I can now regularly back up my calendar with this strategy BUT I still can’t send out emails. I haven’t been able to for about a week and I can’t figure out why. Incoming mail works fine. Any suggestions?

  8. Matthew Guay

    @Megan – Hmm … not sure. Maybe try removing the account and starting over with a fresh account setup.

  9. James

    Matt, you’re the man! Such a helpful workaround to the hotmail sync problem. I actually just picked up new phone yesterday so this is incredibly timely. Thanks for sharing the information…

  10. melinda

    thats weird i am getting the same problem as Kisha…incorrect password, but it is definately the right password…

  11. jessi

    Finally!!! After two calls to apple support I’ve got my hotmail back on my itouch!! Delighted :)

  12. KW

    Apple support was useless.

    This IMMEDIATELY fixed the problem! Thank you so much! :)

  13. cath

    Hi
    How to I sync the details I have on my iphone calendar to the calendar in my hotmail account?
    When I followed above to set up on my iphone the details from hotmail went over to my I phone but cant seem to save back to hotmail the details I have on iphone
    Thanks

  14. Allie

    So glad I can go back to using my Hotmail account and now I can sync everything too!

    Thanks a million!
    Allie
    xxxx

  15. Nobody

    Note that very long passwords don’t seem to work. I had to change the password (it was 16 characters long) to a shorter one (10) and worked.

  16. adebe

    don’t use the “.” in your exchange password. it’s look like the iphone don’t like them.

  17. Scotsman

    I tried this with my live.ca account put I keep on getting a message wrong password anyone else have this problem

  18. Camille Short

    You are a genius! Finally I’m back in business with syncing all my info with my iPod and new computer! Thank you so much!

  19. pinned

    about the password issue. I was having the same problem. I had my domain filled in. I deleted it so it went back to “optional” and saved it and it worked perfect. Hope that helps anyone who had the same issue.

  20. KBax

    This worked amazing for me! Thank you so much. I didn’t know this option was possible! Previously I had to subscribe to my 9 calendars to get them to show up on my iPod touch, and couldn’t push from the touch back to my Hotmail calendar – this works like a charm!

    Question: Is there a way to get the iPod touch calendar colors to match the colors on my Hotmail calendar? I have most of my Hotmail calendar colors memorized, so when I’m looking at my Hotmail calendar online know who the entry is for (plus the legend is on the left). But since the colors don’t match up on the iPod, I’m going to have to label each Hotmail calendar entry to reflect who the entry is for in order to know who’s appointment it is. Do you know of a way around this? Thanks for you work!

  21. Jess

    Synced my hotmail to my iPhone but not all my contacts transferred. Anyone encountered this issue before?

  22. Bella

    If I open a Hotmail email on my computer, will it show as opened on my Iphone?

  23. Mark

    @Jess, Yes, I have been having the same problem. Setting up the EAS is easy enough, but for some weird reason only about half of my contacts are syncing (234 out of 568), and when I am in my contacts screen the network activity indicator just keeps spinning and spinning, but the rest of my contacts never sync.

    I have cleared the email accounts and only setup HoTMaiL to isolate it, but to no avail…

    I also tried creating a new test contact on the iPhone. It appears in HoTMaiL, and deleting it in HoTMaiL deletes it on the iPhone too, but still the other contacts never synchronize.

    Has anyone else seen this?

  24. Mark

    I found a solution to get all my contacts to update. I believe this is a bug with Hotmail, but in any case here is what finally worked.

    I am using Outlook 2007 on Windows 7 with the Outlook Connector on my desktop syncing to Windows Live Hotmail. I am then using Exchange ActiveSync to sync between Windows Live Hotmail and my iPhone 4 and iPad (original) both running iOS 4.3.3. Theoretically this should be a very sweet mini-enterprise solution for one person.

    The total number of contacts I have in Outlook is 569, but I was stuck for about 10 days with only 233 contacts showing on both my iPhone and iPad. I tried creating a new contact on my iPhone and it successfuly synced through Hotmail back to Outlook 2007, and from Hotmail to my iPad, but now I had just 234 contacts in the iPhone and iPad.

    Next I chose a random contact that currently existed in all 4 locations (Outlook, Hotmail, iPhone and iPad) and using Outlook I added a note to it. It successfully synced to all locations, with no effect on the problem, but when I then deleted the note from the same contact via my iPhone… Bam! All my contacts updated on both the iPhone and iPad.

    Something seems to have been stuck on the Hotmail server side. I hope this helps others who are encountering the same issue.

  25. Trevor

    No luck for me Mark. I’m trying to sync my iphone contacts with my wife’s using hotmail as an intermediate. I tried creating and deleting a note via all kinds of combinations (my phone, my wifes, on hotmail, etc…) but no luck. To make it worse, I tried deleting and re-setting up hotmail contacts on both phones, and both phones only load to the same number (195 for mine and 183 for my wife) but I have 199 on hotmail… Anybody else having any luck?

  26. Fiona

    Ohh sooooo close! But no, it is still not accepting my password. But at least I managed to set up the account! I’m reluctant to change my password, but if that is the only stumbling block, I guess I’ll have to try.

  27. Kien Tran

    For those having problems with the password. Make sure the optional Domain field is blank.

  28. lynden

    I am retiring and will lose my work email, address book and calendar. These are now synced thru outlook exchange. Is there a way to keep t these files after my email account is deleted from work?

  29. unknown

    thanks alot is soo worked i tried alot of sites but i understood none of them but this one was great. thanks sooo much!!!! now i have all the contacts to FACETIMEE!!! yeh babey!!!

  30. anonymous

    I’m using Hotmail with Exchange on my iPod Touch, now whenever I try to open Mail on my iPod it says my password is incorrect. I’ve been entering the exact same password online, and I’ve entered the password that I know is right, but still it says it’s incorrect. I’ve also tried to set it up the old-fashioned way (using Other instead of Exchange for set-up) and it says the PW is incorrect there too! Does anybody know whats wrong with Mail on my iPod????

  31. Michele

    Great instructions! Thanks! My email is working, and my contacts and calendar synced from hotmail to my iphone…but I can’t seem to get the contacts and calendar that were existing on my iphone to sync over to hotmail. Any suggestions?

  32. chris

    Hi,
    I followed your instructions and I keep getting the message “unable to verify account information”. Any idea what the problem might be?

  33. chris

    ignore my last post – i got it sorted

  34. Brad

    I have tried this a couple of times, and keep getting the same error that Chris was getting (Unable to verify account information). Any idea what could be causing this?

  35. Mandy

    Mine used to work fine, but now it won’t sync with the inbox. It says cannot get mail, the connection to the server failed.
    I deleted the account a and reinstalled, but it just shows the other folders. You can see sent mail, but that’s the message on the inbox.
    Any ideas? I’ve restarted, been onto Vodafone tech support but they just set up an account on ‘other’ which I can do anyway. Will get inbox on that. Very confused.
    Please help

  36. joshua

    Thanks so much worked perfect on my iphone 4 on three network !!!

  37. Nicole

    im having the same problem as brad .. unable to verify account info …

    any help?

    the domain field is empty and my info is all correct

  38. Emily Martin

    Hey so I have my hotmail account linked to my ipod but everytime i try to get on my account on a computer the password won’t work!! Anyway to change my password on my ipod touch through the settings?

  39. Kevin

    One item to remember is if you are using Live Family Safety for managing your (or your childs) contacts, it will continually ask for a password. Disabling the contact management in Live Family Safety resolves this issue. I did not go back and reenable it afterwards, so I cannot speak for if you can add a certain contact and resolve this issue.

  40. Danny

    im having the same problem as brad and Nicole …unable to verify account info

  41. Scott

    I cannot get all of my contacts to sync. For example, my mom syncs no problem. Dad and sister, not so much. Any suggestions on how to get ALL of my contacts to sync?

  42. Kel

    I’ve been usin my email on my iPod for years now, and all of a sudden it comes up with password incorrect! I’ve changed it twice and can sign in on a computer, what the hell do I do??? I need it very badly and can’t access it!

  43. Jess

    I was able to set up Hotmail on the new iPhone 4S just fine, but I want to change the settings so that when I delete an email on my iPhone, it keeps the email on the server. That way I can still view the email when I get home. My old iPhone used to let me decide if I wanted keep the emails on the server, but this one automatically deletes them from the server when I delete them on the iPhone 4S. Anybody know how to change this setting in iOS 5?

  44. Eton

    Trying to sync my windows live calendar with ipad. I have followed the instructions to a “t”. . after entering the m.hotmail.com in the server field; get message saying “unable to verify account information” need some help with this…please.

  45. Sarah

    Hi, thanks for the info!

    I’ve had my hotmail working wonderfully for a while until one day it stopped downloading my junk folder– it pretends to, giving me the ‘downloading’ message, but then updates totally blank… I’ve tried adjusting the settings and even completely erasing it and starting over, but it doesn’t seem to help. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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