With Windows 8, Microsoft is standardizing a lot of common tasks through new system-level features such as charms, contracts, and settings. But this standardization is causing some users fits, so I’m starting a new series of tips aimed at helping you overcome some common gotcha’s. Up first: Adding accounts in the Mail app.

Microsoft’s new Mail app is a Metro-style replacement for the email capabilities in Windows Live Mail, and while it’s an attractive enough experience, it’s also a bit strange for those of us used to more complex and feature-packed desktop applications. It doesn’t support drag and drop, for example, so you must multi-select email messages using an unusual right-click selection method and then copy or move them to new folders through the app bar. These types of interactions, while common in Metro-style apps, will take some getting used to.

That said, the most common question I’ve received about the new Mail involves adding new accounts. In the Windows 8 Consumer Preview version of this app, a “new accounts” pane appeared in the lower left corner of the app screen, giving users an obvious place to start. But in the Release Preview, this pane is gone, and while the app is usually pre-configured for your Microsoft account, it’s not clear how (or even whether) you can add other accounts.

But you can. Here’s how.

The key is to remember that Metro-style apps utilize new standard, system-level features. And adding an account in the Mail app occurs through such a feature, in this case Settings. Settings is available from the Charms bar. Or you can simply type WINKEY + I to access it directly. The Settings interface for Mail, as you can see, includes just a handful of items.

settings_pane

And the top item, Accounts, is where you go to add a new account.

accts

You can add three types of accounts: Hotmail (Windows Live, including MSN and custom domains), Google (Gmail), and Exchange (including Office 365). And yes, you can add multiple accounts of each type.

Note that the Mail, People, and Calendar apps are connected. So when you add an account in Mail, it will be added to the other apps as well (and vice versa).