Hotmail Overhaul Adds Spam Fix, New Features | Part 2

I can’t vouch for the statistics, and I still had a few Viagra-laced e-mails in my inbox (please hold your jokes). But my Hotmail spam does appear to be drastically reduced.

An extremely handy new Sweep tool helps brush away junk. When you come upon messages you want to get rid of or those you wish to save but usher aside, you can click on a Sweep menu at the top of the screen. Menu options let you instantly delete all the messages from this particular sender. Or you can move all the messages from the sender to a designated folder for, say, newsletters.

You don’t have to keep making these decisions. You can check a box so that Microsoft knows to take the same actions on all messages from the same senders in the future. You can apply similar tools in Gmail, but there are extra steps involved.

*Viewing mail and more. A new Quick View feature can segregate all the messages in your inbox so that you see only those with photos, Office documents, shipping updates, as well as any messages you flag yourself. Moreover, when you click on a Quick View, you can see appropriate messages not only from Hotmail but from Gmail, Yahoo or other services whose accounts you’ve chosen to display within Hotmail.

You can also filter views to see messages from only your contacts, social networks or groups.

Though it’s a catch-up feature, Hotmail also lets you view incoming messages by “conversation,” or bringing threaded messages together. You can turn the feature off if you prefer a more traditional inbox. You can’t turn a similar feature off in Gmail, though Google is working on making an unthreaded version available.

You can also accomplish quite a lot from within your Hotmail inbox. You can view and edit Office documents that arrive as attachments using free Microsoft Office Web apps. Changes are saved in SkyDrive. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a PC or Mac or if you have a version of Office software on your computer.

You can also view YouTube or Hulu videos right from Hotmail without leaving to go off to those sites. And you can play slide shows of photos that arrive within an e-mail.

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