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Advanced privacy options in Hotmail/Windows Live Messenger

Microsoft's Windows Live consists of several services including Hotmail, Messenger and SkyDrive. It has both simple and advanced privacy settings, but do you know where they are, how to customise them, or even that they exist at all? When did you last check the privacy settings? Here's how to customise them.

You can get to the privacy options through Windows Live Messenger. Click your name and then select More Options on the menu. The Options window opens and if you select the Privacy category and then Edit Settings, Internet Explorer opens to show the Privacy Options page. Alternatively, go to Hotmail in your web browser, mouse over your name in the top right corner and click Privacy settings.

Windows Live privacy options

There are three options and you can choose Public (everyone sees almost everything about you), Limited (the default setting), and Private (only friends can see your details). It's your choice, but most people will find the Limited or Private options best.

Click the Advanced link at the bottom and a new screen of privacy options is displayed. There are sliders for basic information, contact information, interests and favourite things and so on. Expand each of the sections by clicking the little triangle icon on the left.

Windows Live privacy options

It looks a bit complicated and overwhelming at first, but stare at it for a few minutes and it begins to make sense. Across the top are privacy settings ranging fom Just Me to Public. Below are sliders for each category of information. If you have entered your education information for example, you can set the slider to Just Me and no-one else can see it. Drag the slider to Some Friends, Friends, Friends and their friends or all the way to Public. It's up to you how much you want to reveal and to whom.

The privacy options are comprehensive, so be sure to set them as you prefer, hiding information you want to keep private, but making public things you want to share.

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