How to disable Messenger (Messaging) in Outlook.com

Last week, Microsoft announced (yet another) rebrand of Hotmail to Outlook.com.  It has received plenty of favourable reviews and praise but one feature is extremely annoying – and that is, like the Windows 8 Metro Windows 8-style UI Messaging application, it automatically logs you into Messenger and connected services (Facebook Chat) when you sign in, with no ability to log off instant messaging except for setting your status to “invisible”.  (Side note: Windows 8 Messaging now thankfully has a global off switch added into its settings since the Release Preview.)

I’m sure there are people who don’t mind this – perhaps they don’t use instant messaging or they keep webmail open all the time anyway (in fact you get a small bonus feature if you do).  I personally use the actual Outlook desktop application and only use webmail when I’m away from my own PC, so I’m not too keen to be speaking of people when I’m just trying to quickly access my email from other locations.

So I looked for a way to disable this from happening and after rummaging through the options unsuccessfully, some searches to see if anyone else had already figured it out, I started looking through the code, and found the key: geo.messenger.services.live.com geo.gateway.messenger.live.com (changed December 2012).

So to disable Outlook.com’s Messaging feature, all one has to do is block this host and the easiest way to do this is to add it to your hosts file.  If you’re not sure how to do this or want to save time, I’ve made a quick tool for Windows users below which you can easily run to automatically add (or remove) blocking this host.  To make this change yourself manually, you find yourself on a machine without administrator rights, or you use another operating system, see Other Options below.

Download the Disable Outlook.com Messaging tool

Using the tool

To start, download the Disable Outlook.com Messaging tool, open the zip file, and run the application inside.  You’ll be prompted for administrator rights so the tool can make modifications to your hosts file, and then you’ll receive a message indicating the change has been made.  Please note you’ll need to restart your browser to see the change.

To remove the entry in the hosts file, run the tool again, the messenger entry will be removed and you’ll receive a message notifying you as such.

If required, you can use the /q command line parameter to avoid seeing the notification messages that the change has been added or removed.

After the change

Once the hosts file entry has been added, when you click Messaging in Outlook.com, you will see an attempt to sign in but it never will be successful:
outlookcom4

No known side effects (so far)

I’ve tested this change for a number of days now and saw no noticeable problems in Windows Live Messenger 2009, 2011 or Windows 8 Messaging or related software.  In fact, even the Outlook.com Messaging history still seems to work (albeit sporadically).  If you believe you’ve found something else which uses this host, run the tool again or remove the entry manually and please comment so we can all be made aware of it.

Other options

If you wish to add the entry to the hosts file yourself and use Windows, press the Start button (if you use Windows XP, click the Run option) and type:
notepad %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
then press Ctrl-Shift-Enter to start Notepad with administrator rights.  Once Notepad starts, add the following line:
0.0.0.0 geo.gateway.messenger.live.com
Then close Notepad and save.  Now just restart your browser to see the change.

If you’re on a Windows machine without the ability to get administrator rights, such as a work setup or library and there is an available version of Internet Explorer available, commenter qiang reminded me that you can use the Restricted Sites zone to block specific hosts like this one.  To do so, after starting Internet Explorer, press the Alt key on the keyboard to bring up the menu bar, choose Tools, then Internet Options, then the Security tab, choose Restricted sites and finally press the Sites button.  In the ‘Add this website to the zone:’ box, type geo.gateway.messenger.live.com and choose Add.  Then click Close, and OK in the remaining open options windows.  If outlook.com is already open, sign out outlook.com and sign back in to see the change.

If you’re using another operating system, the How-To Geek has tutorials for both Ubuntu Linux and OS X (the Windows one is missing the fact you need to start Notepad in Administrator mode if you’re following this guide).

Additionally, you could use firewall software to block outgoing connects to this hosts.  Unfortunately the built-in Windows firewall only supports IP addresses and since these can change, it isn’t too useful for the purposes of blocking this.

Final notes

As modifying the hosts file requires administrator rights, this probably won’t be successful on machines you might use when you’re out and about.  Of course, the best solution would be for Microsoft to add this feature into Outlook.com itself and in fact, the web messenger in Hotmail initially didn’t allow you to log out either but the feature was added later on.  I certainly have no idea why is was deemed unimportant to be included in the current release of Outlook.com and it seems many of you agree with me.

Posted on August 7, 2012, in Messenger, Messenger Tools, Outlook.com, Tools. Bookmark the permalink. 65 Comments.

  1. worked a charm. thanks

    my problem was after logging into my primary hotmail (now outlook) account, i’d switching to another, i got signed out of the (non-msn) messenger client i was using for the secondary account.
    your solution works a charm – so long as i dont try and open the web messenger dialogue

  2. IS THERE ANY TOOL TO ENABLE OUTLOOK INSTANT MESSENGING…!I USED THAT TOOL AND HOST FILES REMOVED BUT STILL MY OUTLOOK MSG SHOWS SIGNING IN BUT NEVER SUCCESSFULL. I WANT TO GET BACK INSTANT MESSEGING…!PLZ REPLY SOON

    • Greetings Malik. I know this sounds silly, but have you simply rebooted? If it still doesn’t work, let me know.

      • i rebooted !actually before using ur tool i had this problem (my messenger didnt show my freinds status.it just showed signing in ……but with no success….! even the (Availble option is showing disabled…i cant enable it…i checked my host file…removed that geo gate away….etc……..i just want to enable this chat…….here is the link for screenshots…
        https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=2DC04255296AE5B!223&authkey=!ADSxOvCw3kZlj74

        plz solve or create a tool for enabling my chat…i m really worried about my account…
        Thnkz in advance

        • Oh I see, it doesn’t have anything to do with blocking the host since it wasn’t working in the first place.

          Your screenshot indicates that you can sign out and sign into another account and it works? That certainly does sound like an account problem but there is a possibility that it could be related to cookies stored just for your account. How about clearing out the cookies and cache in Chrome and trying again? To do this quickly, you could just open up incognito mode and test there if you want. You could also try in IE if you haven’t already.

          I don’t suppose you’ve tried on another computer too?

          • I tried incongito mode + clearing out cookies and cache…in chrome…i tried firefox,opera,I.E 10 but still having this problem…However when my sister signs in with her account…Every Thing is fine for her…I am now even having problem dat when i sign in to office it automatically signsout after two three days and asks me to sign in back in order to access Skydrive or Windows Mail in my windows 8…I have given permission to Outlook Moderators but those damn people couldnt solve it….Do u think dat my account is some how blocked by Microsoft…..or wat ever..???
            Any Help…

            • Hey Malik. I was wondering if this was still an issue. I’m going to have to assume like you have that there is something specifically wrong with your account if that’s the case unfortunately.
              It will be fairly difficult to get them to fix given they’re planning to kill Messenger in a matter of weeks – those “Outlook Moderators” (which are actually outsourced support as far as I know) can’t do a whole lot in my experience.

  3. Excelente amigo… gracias desde mi Ecuador!!

    Excellent friend … thanks from my Ecuador!

  4. Favourable reviews? Those people must have been high. I’m a 25 year old guy with every gadget under the sun, and even I’m not stupid enough to want messenger in my hotmail account. I’m also not stupid enough just to accept something and say its a godsend just cause it’s new.

  5. Thank you so much! That automatic sign in was highly annoying! I made changes to Notepad and logged back in and voila, not signed in :-)

  6. Thank you very much, I downloaded the msn but not how to use the camera, it has the same settings as before and when I try to do the video calling option is censored and unable to use

    • Greetings Maria. If the Video Call is grayed out or has disappeared, it is because your contact you’re trying to call is using Skype. You both need to be using Messenger to use Video Call.

  7. Thank you for this little tool. Saved my life.

    Microsoft just never fails to amaze me how can they annoy their users. They can’t even copy few things properly from their competitors.

  8. I’ve noticed one side-effect with updating
    notepad %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
    with
    0.0.0.0 geo.gateway.messenger.live.com

    Using IE9, the web Outlook doesn’t check for update/new mails, i.e. I needed to manually refresh the page to see new mails. Would anyone confirm?

    • Greetings Veifne. Yep, I’ve noticed that too. It seems they use Messenger to notify the UI to refresh the mails, just like the desktop Messenger and Windows Live Mail.

      I don’t think you can have both a disabled Messenger and always refreshed mail I’m afraid, besides maybe using a browser add-on that might automatically refresh the page or something like that.

  9. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Had friend bombarding me with messages like crazy about getting on Skype/play something. Every time I just popped in to check my email. Became rather annoying.

  10. edit. it doesnt work on at all on xp ?? why :(

    • Greetings. Which part isn’t working exactly? The tool or the idea of adding to the hosts file? Assuming the latter, Microsoft has slowly been deploying a new version of Outlook to some users and that may use a different host or way of doing things. Unfortunately none of my accounts have yet to be affected and no one else has mentioned any details yet.

  11. I think it’s kind of funny that messenger was supposed to go away in favor of Skype like six months ago, yet outlook.com still automatically signs us into messenger. genius.

    (also, thanks for this. every time I get a new computer, the interwebs bring me back to this blog post.)

  12. Warning:
    0.0.0.0 geo.messenger.services.live.com pause a Trojan threat to your computer. A TojWare.Win32.Qhost~1459@116242354 has been identified by Internet Security. The threat is due to the entry “0.0.0.0″ as this is a fake IP and NOT your computers’ which have an IP like 127.0.0.1
    You have been warned!

    • Greetings eva. This is a false positive and frankly is ridiculous. You can’t get a trojan by pointing a host to an IP address that isn’t reachable (0.0.0.0). If I was using an antivirus that reported this, I would drop it in an instant out of sheer incompetence of the software.

  13. You save my life
    thanks!thanks!!thanks

  14. THANK YOOOUUUUUU! Frig! I hate signing in to my e-mail, start composing and infrequently, but really irritatingly, up pops someone’s message and I’m thinking “What the F*(*? oh… yeah… right… chat…” got sooo tired of it, glad someone has the answer, works great, of course :D!

  15. You da MAN! Thanks Major!

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