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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Guay
Matthew Guay is a veteran app reviewer and technology tip writer. His work has appeared on Zapier's blog, AppStorm, Envato Tuts+, and his own blog, Techinch.
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