Changing Windows Live Messenger 2009’s Hotmail button to use Internet Explorer instead of the default browser

Prior to Windows Live Messenger 2009, when you clicked the Mail button in Messenger, Internet Explorer would automatically pop up and log you into Hotmail regardless of your default browser.  Beginning with Windows Live Messenger 2009, clicking the Mail button will open Hotmail in your default browser and if that is not Internet Explorer, it will not provide the automatic log-on into Hotmail*.

So, I created Hotmail in IE, which will set allow you to continue to use your default browser in Windows and other applications (including links in Messenger conversations), but use Internet Explorer for Messenger’s Hotmail features. 

How to use
Hotmail in IE does not require installation.  Just download the executable and run it directly.  You will be shown the following:
To set Internet Explorer to open when you click the Mail button in Messenger, choose the Internet Explorer button.  Should you wish to set it back, choose Default Web Browser.  Once you have made your choice, choose Done and no further changes should be needed.

The next time you start your normal default browser, you may receive a prompt regarding its default status.  Choose No to this prompt and elect to not receive these notifications to avoid needing to set the mail button handler again.

Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
Both 32-bit or 64-bit supported
A Windows Live ID that supports Hotmail (such as,, etc.)

Hotmail in IE is written in Visual C++ 2008

Download Hotmail in IE

Version history:
6/8/2009  1.0  Initial Release

* The official reasoning for the inability of Messenger to log-in you in automatically is for security reasons.  Messenger has no direct secure route to sign you into Windows Live ID in other browsers as it does with Internet Explorer.


Posted on June 8, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Any other requirement? Maybe a .NET Framework vX installed?

  2. Rafael: Nope, this doesn\’t use the framework. Everything it needs is linked in (hence the 600K size).

  3. I was about to shout your praises from the rooftops, but unfortunately this doesn\’t seem to work for me (it gives a gateway timeout error when trying to load hotmail) but if i type directly it works, so I\’m no sure what\’s going on. Also, when trying to reverse the change it tries to get my default browser to firefox, not Opera which it was before running the app the first time. I\’ll try rebooting and see it that helps.oh wait, there we go, I had to authenticate (manually) once without using the mail icon in msn, from then on it seems to be working.So, THANKS! You made my day/week/time period since this new version has been loading in Opera, THANK YOU!

  4. Trackback isn\’t working for some reason, I blogged you:

  5. Chris: The "gateway timeout" is from one of Microsoft\’s IIS servers for Hotmail, I\’ve seen it before. This is unrelated to the applicaton as you noticed and happens from time-to-time even if you do use IE as your normal default browser. Thanks for the mention!

  6. no puedo ver mis contactos en la ventana del nuevo menssengerque hagoooo

  7. It seems that the dates in this blog are posted around year 1424 to 1428. I think this is a bug but I thought that it\’s worth noting

  8. BTW, I want to report a bug regarding Live Messenger not notifying me of new mails and not updating the read mails count. Could you point me to the right URL? As trackback is not working, I blogged it at:

  9. Its a nice one Jonathan. Thanks 🙂

  10. Thanks a lot! A great improvement to Live Messenger. Noticed it also opens other Messenger-links, such as profiles for my contacts, in IE as well. Really nice!

  11. Cheng: This feature breaks from time to time for everyone. It\’s all done server-side, so there\’s nothing you can really do to fix it on your end.I think you\’ll find that it will magically start working on its own in the near future.

  12. I couldn\’t select the internet explorer button because it was grayed out. Is there any other way to select internet explorer instead of the default web browser?

  13. awesome little tool, cheers!

  14. Hey Jonathan, I spent allot of time on trying to install the newer version and/or work with the old one with no success.Thank you very much for your help with this, even MS tech support didn\’t got back to me on this one.Thanks AgainGali Bali

  15. create one to 8.5 version

  16. WLM09 was driving me crazy after I Installed, unistalling Google Chrome I was not able to log-on automatically in IE by simply clicking the email icon!I tried uninstalling many application and reinstalled WLM and upgraded to IE8 but it didn\’t workBut thanks to you Jonathan for this tool..the problem is solved now…it worked like magicYou rock !


  18. Hey i was wondering if you, or anyone else could help me.Yesterday i was forced to install the new updates of msn. I followed the prompts and by the end of it i have about 7 errors.I tried uninstaling windows live messenger and mail.Now when i go and download the new version form the site, it still comes up with two errors:Messenger couldnt be installed because we had trouble installing these requirements:Mircosoft Application Error ReportingTry installing Windows Live programs again. Programs were not installed because installation was canceled. aborded:0x80004004Microsoft Visual Studio RuntimePlease log on to Windows as an administator, and then try again. Only an administator can install Windows Live programs on this computer. hr:0x80070005For one, i didnt cancell anything.And my account IS the administator.I reeeeally need help. Ive spent about 8 hours trying to work this out and installed numerous Windows live installments and i am at my wits end. PLEASE HELP.

  19. I need a little help. I unloaded this 8.5 version, but now I get no sound in the video calls. Any ideas??

  20. i tried it 3 times ..nothing changed . im using ie6 could that be the problem ?

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