Whether you’re coming to Outlook.com from Gmail, Hotmail, or some other email account, chances are you’d like to centralize all of your email activities through this superior new service. Using my previous examination of email account consolidation as a guide, let’s see how you can send and receive email from other accounts using Outlook.com.

As a refresher, I spent a considerable amount of time examining email account aggregation last year in a series of email consolidation articles. And while I’ll summarize my findings and advice from that series here, it may be helpful to go back and read (or re-read) these articles for a deeper look at this topic:

Thinking About Email Consolidation Strategies

Email Consolidation: How to Collect Email from Other Accounts

Email Consolidation: How to Forward Email to Other Accounts

Email Consolidation: How to Consolidate Email Accounts in Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7.5

Windows Phone 7.5: Linked Inbox for Email Consolidation

The situation here is simple, but there are multiple ways to accomplish the same goal. That is, you have two or more email accounts. And you’d like to access them all—i.e. be able to send and receive email from all of the accounts—from a single account.

You can do this consolidation in the cloud or in email applications on the PC or a mobile device. For the PC, I prefer to aggregate all of my personal email accounts through a single account (in my case Hotmail, now using the Outlook.com user experience). On Windows Phone, however, I still need configure each account for which I’d like to send email, however, since the Windows Phone Mail app (like other email apps and applications) has no understanding of the work I’ve done behind the scenes to aggregate my accounts in the cloud.

Once you’ve decided to aggregate multiple accounts in the cloud, you need to decide how you will get email from what I’ll call your secondary accounts to what I’ll call your main, or master, account. There are two methods. You can forward email from secondary accounts. Or you can collect email using your main account. Forwarding email is the better approach, always: It’s automatic and happens immediately when mail arrives. If you try to use Outlook.com (like Hotmail before it) to collect email from other accounts, it will only happen on some arbitrary, non-configurable schedule.

Next, you will need to configure Outlook.com to be able to send mail on behalf of your other, secondary, email account(s).

Given all this, there are two things you need to configure for each secondary account. You need to configure each to forward your email to Outlook.com; you’ll do this from your previous email account. And you need to configure Outlook.com to send email from the secondary account.

I’ll look at both of these tasks here.

(There are of course other things you can do to help end your reliance on legacy email solutions like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, and so on, including importing contacts and calendars, moving over your old email messages to Outlook.com, and the like. These topics are fodder for future Outlook.com tips, so if you have specific concerns, please let me know.)

Forwarding email to Outlook.com

Most email services offer a way to forward incoming email to another account. While it probably doesn’t makes sense to document how the top several services do this, let’s look at Gmail, since converting Gmail users to Outlook.com seems to be a major goal of this new service.

In Gmail, navigate to Settings (the gear icon) and then Settings. From the Settings page, choose Forwarding and POP/IMAP. Under the top section, Forwarding, you will see options to disable and enable forwarding, and a button for adding a forwarding address.

Click the Add a forwarding address button and then enter your Outlook.com email address. Then, click Next. The next screen notes that a verification email has been sent to the email address you configured. (Click OK to close it.)

In a separate browser or tab, sign in to Outlook.com. You will receive an email from Gmail that includes a confirmation code which you'll need to paste into Gmail's Settings interface. Copy that code to the clipboard and return to Gmail.

In Gmail Settings, paste the code into the Verify box in the Forwarding section and click Verify.

Now that you've configured an account to which you will forward your Gmail-based email, you need to actually enable that forwarding. And this is done via the top two options in the Forwarding section of Gmail Mail Settings. By default, the top of these two choices, Disable forwarding, is selected. To enable forwarding, you'll need to click the bottom choice, which begins with "Forward a copy of incoming mail to..."

Then, in the first drop-down box, select your Outlook.com email address. In the second drop-down box, you can choose from the following options: Keep Gmail's copy in the inbox, Mark Gmail's copy as read, Archive Gmail's copy, or Delete Gmail's copy. I choose "archive Gmail's copy" here because I like my secondary accounts’ inboxes to be clutter-free, but you can of course choose accordingly.

Then, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the Save Changes button.

Sending email from other accounts using Outlook.com

Just forwarding your Gmail (or other accounts’) email to Outlook.com is only half the battle. If this is all you do, you can of course reply to these emails, but the replies will come from your Outlook.com account, and not from the account that actually received the email. To fix this, you need to configure Outlook.com to be able to send email on behalf of your secondary account(s). This way, when you get an email through your Gmail account, for example, and choose to reply, the reply will appear to come from Gmail, and not Outlook.com

(Note: Well, sort of. Like Hotmail before it, email sent on behalf of another account through Outlook.com will include a From field that reads something like “From: mynewaccount@outlook.com on behalf of My Real Name (myoldaccount@gmail.com).” This won’t be a problem for most people, but certain power users will recoil in horror at this, and may choose to ignore Outlook.com for this reason. Microsoft says its aware of this issue and is working to fix it so that mail that is sent on behalf of other accounts actually appears to be sent through the correct secondary account. That said, I’d been using Hotmail this way for a long, long time and have never worried about this one bit. It works fine as-is.)

To configure Outlook.com to send email on behalf of a secondary email account, navigate to Settings (the gear icon), More mail settings, and then choose “Sending/receiving email from other accounts” from under the Managing your account section.

send-receive

Under “You can send mail from these accounts,” choose “Add another account to send mail from.” In the next screen, type your secondary account’s email address and then click Send verification email. Since the account is already forwarding its email, the verification email should actually show up in your Outlook.com inbox. Just click the supplied link and you’ll be good to go: You can now send mail from that account in Outlook.com (using the web interface only), and the “You can send mail from these accounts” portion of Outlook.com settings will be freed up so you can add another secondary account if needed.

send-as

You could even configure your Gmail (or other email account) to be your default email address. This also done from the “You can send mail from these accounts” interface. Just click the “Use as default” link next to the appropriate account.