Windows Live Mail

Vista: Setting Windows Live Mail as Default

I ran into this problem recently, while setting up a computer with Windows Vista x64. After installing the Windows Live Essentials 2011 pack, I wanted to set Windows Live Mail as the default mail program. While this was possible within the Options of the Live Mail program itself, it would not show up as an option for the Start Menu default Mail program, nor would it show in the list of the Default Programs app.

I could have just turned off the default mail link on the Start Menu, and then manually inserted a shortcut to Live Mail, but that was a shortcut, and when you work in the Tech area for a while, you find out that shortcuts around problems eventually come back to haunt you…ie. eventually something else won’t work right either, because the underlying problem was not solved.

So after digging around on the Internet for a while, and finding nothing substantial, I decided to just pull some registry entries for this program off a Windows 7 computer. The actual registry entries involved are at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Clients\Mail\Windows Live Mail

If you inspect that registry key on a computer that has the same problem, you’ll find that most of the entries have no keys or values. Not good! So the solution is to add them back in. Since that would be too much work to do by hand, I’ve provided you the registry keys from the Windows 7 computer that I used to fix my Vista install. Download it here: Windows Live Mail Registry Fix (64-bit) (for 32-bit, see below).

Once you’ve got the file, do the following steps:

  1. Unzip it.
  2. Double-click to enter it into the Registry (click OK to any dialogs).
  3. Run the Windows Live Mail program.
  4. It should prompt you to set it as the default mail program. Choose “Yes”.

Now it should show as the default mail program on the Start Menu, and also it should appear in the Default Programs app list.

There is one other problem that still might persist. If you now go into the Start Menu properties, to set the default Mail program, the name, instead of “Windows Live Mail” might be blank. This is caused by a conflict in names, between Hotmail, and Windows Live Mail. When Windows goes to get the Hotmail name, it uses a registry key called “LocalizedString” (presumably so it will change the name to match whichever language is currently set). This value points to a DLL “hmmapi.dll” in the Internet Explorer folder under Program Files. Unfortunately, the value it returns is “Windows Live Mail”, which conflicts with the new Windows Live Mail. So the name for the real Windows Live Mail ends up as blank in the Start Menu Properties dialog.

You could go in and edit the “LocalizedString” key for yourself:


Just change it to “Hotmail” (without the quotes).

Or, you can download another registry fix and just run it, which is faster and less prone to error. Download that here: Windows Live Mail Registry Fix 2 (64-bit).

Once you’ve got the file, do the following steps:

  1. Unzip it.
  2. Double-click to enter it into the Registry (click OK to any dialogs).
  3. Right-click the Start button (or Vista orb) and choose “Properties”.
  4. Click the Start Menu tab, then the Customize button.
  5. Choose “Windows Live Mail” from the “E-mail link:” drop-down list.
  6. Click OK to close that dialog, then click OK again to close the Properties.

You’re done!

For 32-bit systems, the following REG file should work: Windows Live Mail Registry Fix (32-bit). You might still have to fix the localized string for Hotmail, as mentioned just above.

Nov. 19, 2012 – I just updated the REG files. They still hadn’t worked perfectly due to some hard-coded file paths. These new ones should work always now.
Aug. 18, 2013 – I added 32-bit versions of the REG files.
Feb. 13, 2014 – 32-bit still wasn’t right (had some hard-coded “Program Files (x86)” paths). Fixed again.

By practic on August 1, 2011 | | A comment?