Configuring for maximum security and privacy

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 12, 2012
Updated • Nov 30, 2012
Microsoft Outlook, Security

We have reviewed Microsoft's new mail service a few days ago, and even explained how you can migrate your Gmail emails and contacts to the new service. Today, I would like to take a closer look at the privacy and security settings, and how you can configure the service for maximum protection and privacy.

You first need to sign in to Outlook using your Windows Live, Hotmail, MSN, Outlook or Microsoft account. Check out Outlook sign in help and troubleshooting if you are experiencing issues when you try to log in to

You then need to click on the settings icon next to your user name at the right top corner of the screen, and select more mail settings from the options menu.

Content from third-party networks

You can control third party network privacy settings in this menu, specifically what other users may see when they are reading email from you, and what you see when you read emails from other users.

show public content

Outlook can display publicly available content from social network sites like Facebook to users of its service. The privacy settings of the supported services determine what other Outlook users see when they read your emails.

You can disable the option for emails that you read by switching the showing public content setting from show public content from third-party networks to don't show public content from third party networks.

It is additionally possible to link social networking sites that you are a member of to Outlook so that additional information about people that you are connected with appear on the Outlook website.

Group by conversation and pre-load messages

Outlook pre-loads messages by default, which basically downloads them before you click on them. This speeds up the display of preloaded messages on the website, but may in turn increase your bandwidth, especially if you do not access all preloaded messages.

Messaging history can save your messaging history to a folder on the site so that it can be accessed here at any time. The feature is turned off by default, but can be turned on if you'd like to make use of the feature.

Advanced privacy settings

The advanced privacy settings handle two different preferences. Auto-complete suggestions will by default suggest contacts and non-contacts when you add people as recipients to emails. The feature is limited to suggestions of people that you have communicated with in the past. You can configure the feature to only provide suggestions for people in your contact list instead.

advanced privacy settings

Deleted messages are not deleted right away by Outlook. They are first moved into the delete folder, and even if you empty that folder, may be recoverable. The default setting makes deleted messages recoverable. If you do not want that feature, change it so that emails get permanently removed from Outlook once you empty the deleted folder.

Filters and reporting

Outlook displays attachments, pictures and links for senders with good reputation by default which you can change here to block attachments, pictures and links for anyone that is not in your safe senders list. Pictures are often used to track whether an email has been accessed by a user, while attachments and links may be used for malicious purposes.

Safe and blocked senders

The safe senders list is a listing of contacts that you trust. The main advantage is that safe sender emails will never be moved to the junk folder.A similar setting is provided for mailing lists. The blocked senders list is like a black list, and emails from senders of the list are automatically deleted by Outlook.


Attachments can be send directly to recipients, or by storing them on Microsoft's SkyDrive service instead. A link is added to the email then instead of the attachment. Outlook decides how attachments are handled by default, and you can change that here in the options.

Active View Settings

Here you can configure previews of attachments, e.g photos or videos, and the service's interactive email feature. Interactive email has been introduced in 2010 to Hotmail. It integrates direct actions for third party services right into the email client. This may included accepting invitations to connect on LinkedIn or finding a hotel after booking a flight right from the inbox. The feature is enabled by default.

Other options

You can use the Outlook settings to rename your email address, which adds another Microsoft account email address to Outlook. You will still receive emails sent to the old email address.

Another option that you have is to create an email alias that acts as a new message for sending and retrieving emails as well.


The settings that you may want to change to improve your privacy and security on are the following ones:

  • Disable Active View
  • Switch from displaying attachments, links and pictures from senders with good reputation to safe senders only
  • Give suggestions only for users in your contact list
  • Delete emails permanently
  • Do not pre-load messages
  • Do not show public content

Have another tip in this regard? Post it in the comments.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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