Using Hotmail in a web browser requires a full featured browser, a good Internet connection, and a modern computer. One alternative for slower computers or poor connections is to access Hotmail through a lighter third party web interface like mail2web. An even lighter alternative is to use a lightweight POP client to access your Hotmail account.
Here I document how to do this with Claws Mail, the lightest POP client I know, but the procedure should be applicable to POP clients generally.
It is possible to have mail deleted in Claws Mail automatically deleted from the server. In Hotmail, go to Options – More Options – Managing your account – POP and deleting downloaded messages. Select “Do what my other program says – if it says to delete messages, then delete them”.
It is not possible to synchronize local and server folders. This requires IMAP access, and Hotmail only offers POP. A workaround is to instruct Claws Mail to delete messages from the server after so many hours or days. This figure should be high enough that you still have web access to your mail for as long as you need, but not so long that mail piles up indefinitely. If this is not acceptable, then switch from Hotmail to a provider that offers IMAP access — which is probably a good idea anyway. UPDATE: Hotmail (now outlook.com) appears to now support IMAP; see the comments for details.
INSTALLATION AND CONFIGURATION
Install Claws Mail, claws-mail-gtkhtml2_viewer-plugin, and claws-mail-notification-plugin. Open. The setup wizard will launch; answer the questions:
- Server type: POP3
- Server address: pop3.live.com
- Username: Your full Hotmail address
- Use SSL to connect to receiving server: yes
- Use SSL via STARTTLS: no
- Client SSL certificate: leave blank
- SMTP server address: smtp.live.com
- Use authentication: yes
- SMTP username and password: leave blank to use the same as POP
- Use SSL to connect to SMTP server: yes
- Use SSL via STARTTLS: yes
- Client SSL certificate: leave blank
- Mailbox name: Hotmail
When you finish the wizard, Claws Mail will open.
Open Configuration – Preference for current account. In Receive, check “Remove messages on server when received” and set “Remove messages after X days X hours” to the desired delay. In Compose, enable default dictionary and default alternate dictionary. For example, I set the former to en and the latter to es.
Open Configuration – Preferences and set as desired. Settings that work well for me are, in Mail Handling – Receiving, check “Automatically check for new mail every X minutes” and “Check for new mail on start-up”. In Mail Handling – Sending, check “Never send return receipts”. In Compose – Spell Checking, enable alternate dictionary if desired (I selected es_MX), and check that both dictionaries work. In Message View – Text Options, select “Render HTML-only messages with plugin if possible”. In Message View – External Programs, select “Use system defaults when possible”. In Other – Miscellaneous, select “Empty trash on exit” and “Synchronise offline folders as soon as possible”.
If your ISP blocks port 25 (mine does), then open Configuration – Preferences for current account – Advanced and set the SMTP port to 587. As a last resort you may use your ISP’s SMTP server, but your outgoing mail will be penalized by spam filters for having forged headers. However if you were concerned about spam filters then you wouldn’t be using Hotmail anyway.
If you installed a plugin, open Configuration – Plugins. Select the desired plugins and press “Load”. Select them and press “Open”.
Press “Get Mail”. You will be asked if you want to accept an unknown SSL certificate; do so. Your mail will be received. Depending on the size of your mailbox and the speed of your connection this could take a long time. Henceforth Claws Mail will automatically check for mail.
Press “Compose” and write a test message to yourself. Insure spellcheck works in all desired languages. Press “Send”. You will be asked if you want to accept an unknown SSL certificate; do so. Your mail will be sent. Insure it is received.
TODO: Document how to set default mime types, how to set up and use the address book, and how to integrate spamassassin. Update for Hotmail’s IMAP support and name change to outlook.com.