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ISSUE 18.13.F • 2021-04-12

In this issue

MICROSOFT: How to customize and manage your Microsoft Account

Additional articles in the PLUS issue

PUBLIC DEFENDER: New smartphone? Great! Now don’t charge it past 80%

LANGALIST: Check or change Win10’s file-sharing encryption level

BEST UTILITIES: Freeware Spotlight — Killer

PATCH WATCH: Known Issue Rollback

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MICROSOFT

How to customize and manage your Microsoft account

Lance Whitney

By Lance Whitney

You can view and administer your subscriptions, devices, family members, rewards, and other aspects of your Microsoft account through a dedicated website.

You have a Microsoft account that you use to sign in to Windows and possibly to other apps such as Outlook, Office 365, OneDrive, and Skype. But maybe there are aspects of your account that you’d like to tweak or at least review. Microsoft offers a website that serves up all the relevant details and settings on your account.

The Microsoft account site gives you the ability to view and change your own contact information and related details. It shows you which computers and devices are signed in with your account. It helps you control subscriptions for specific applications, such as Microsoft 365. It lets you add and manage members of your Microsoft “family.” It reveals any rewards you’ve garnered by using Bing and taking online quizzes. And it provides an order history of any Microsoft services you’ve purchased. As such, it’s a one-stop shop for your Microsoft relationship. Let’s take a tour.

First, sign into your Microsoft account at https://account.microsoft.com/. The overview page offers snapshots and links to all the pages at the site, including Subscriptions, Family, Devices, Payment & billing, Rewards, Privacy, and Security. Privacy and security are important areas and take time and effort to manage; therefore, they will be covered in appropriate detail in my next article in this series. For now, we’ll look at the other areas available for you to view and manage. You can access most of the areas through their snapshot panels on the overview page or through the menus at the top of the window.

The main menu bar at the top of the website is shown below. Mentions of “the main menu” in the remainder of this article refer to this menu, which in most instances will remain at the top of the browser Window during your session with the account system.

Microsoft Account Page Menu

Click Your Info on the main menu or click your name at the top. The Your Info page lets you change or add a photo and change your name. For the former, click Add a photo or Change photo and select a photo from your computer. Though obviously not required, a photo can help visually distinguish your account, especially if you plan to add family members (see Figure 1). Click the Edit Name link if you need to change your name.

Your Info Page
Figure 1. The Your Info page lets you easily add a photo or change your name.

In the section titled “Profile info,” there is an Edit profile info link (hidden by the profile’s photo dialog in Figure 1). Edit the profile info if you need to change any personal details such as date of birth, gender, or location.

The next section, Account info, provides a handy way to add aliases to your Microsoft account. An alias is an alternative email address for your account beyond the address you used to sign up. You might create an alias if you need to change your default email address and don’t want to lose any of your account settings or customizations. You could also use different aliases to sign in to different Microsoft services. You can add more than one alias. However, Microsoft limits you to 10 in total, and you can’t add more than two aliases per week. Click the link to Edit account info and then click the link to Add email.

To add a new email address as an alias, type the address into the field Create a new email address and add it as an alias. Microsoft uses outlook.com as the domain name. To add an existing email address from any domain, type it into Add an existing email address as a Microsoft account alias. Click Add alias. Microsoft alerts you if the alias address you entered is already in use. In this case, keep trying until you find an alias that is available (see Figure 2).

Add an Alias
Figure 2. Adding an alias lets you create different email addresses for the same account.

After adding or modifying an alias, you will return to the list of Account aliases (see Figure 3). Click the Make primary link for the alias you wish to make the new default address. This address will then appear when you sign in to Windows and other Microsoft services. Click the Remove link for any addresses you will no longer use. Remember that you can sign in to Windows and elsewhere with any of your alias addresses, and your settings and customizations will be the same. Click Add phone number if you wish to set up a phone number as a login method, rather than an email address.

Choose Alias
Figure 3. Make any alias the primary address and remove any aliases you no longer need.

From the main menu, click Devices. This page shows you all the devices which are logged in with your Microsoft account. It helps you keep track of all your devices and the instances where you use your account (see Figure 4).

Devices Screen
Figure 4. The Devices screen shows you all the systems on which you’ve logged in with your Microsoft account.

Click a thumbnail on this display to see the vital stats for a device — such as the Windows version, serial number, amount of memory, and processor (see Figure 5).

Device Details Screen
Figure 5. The Device details screen lists key hardware and software information for each device.

Click Security & protection at the top, as shown in Figure 5. This section reveals the status for a specific device, showing information similar to that seen in the Update & Security section of Windows 10 Settings. If one of your devices is missing, click Find my device to see a map of your devices, including the missing one. Click the entry for the missing device and then click Find to trigger an audible and visible notification on the device itself (see Figure 6).

Find My Device
Figure 6. With the Find My Device feature, you can locate a missing device on which you’ve signed in with your Microsoft account.

Click Services & subscriptions on the main menu. This page shows active and expired subscriptions for Microsoft 365 and other Microsoft products. Click the Manage link for any active subscription to view the details and make any changes, such as canceling the subscription or modifying the auto-renew option.

Next, click the menu for Payment & billing and select Order history. This displays any purchases you’ve made through Microsoft, including subscriptions and Microsoft Store downloads. For any purchase, click the link for Order details to see more info (Figure 7).

Subscriptions Screen
Figure 7. Microsoft shows you current and past subscriptions and other purchases for your review.

Click Rewards on the main menu. Microsoft offers digital rewards if you search using Bing, take certain quizzes, or perform other tasks. The Rewards page shows you your current reward amount, allows you to perform tasks to rack up more rewards, and lets you redeem your rewards in exchange for gift cards and other items (see Figure 8).

Rewards Display
Figure 8. The Rewards program provides gift cards and other treats in exchange for using Bing and taking quizzes.

Finally, click Family on the main menu. Creating a Microsoft family to match your real family members offers several benefits for adults and especially for children. Adults can share certain products and subscriptions, such as one for a Microsoft 365 Family plan (which allows up to six different people). Adults in the family can also control and monitor specific features for children, including screen time limits, content filtering, and spending.

To add someone to your Microsoft family, click Add a family member near the bottom. Type the person’s phone number or email address. That person receives an invitation to join the family. Once the invitation is accepted, the person appears on the Family page, where you can manage key settings. Click the More options link for a family member to manage screen time and other features and to locate their computer on a map (see Figure 9).

Family Member display
Figure 9. Adding an adult or child to your Microsoft family helps you monitor and manage their access.

When finished with the Microsoft account website, be sure to sign out.

A Microsoft account is more than just a way to sign in to Windows. And you’ll see how that plays out as you explore the different features and options available at your account page. By managing all the available settings, you’ll be able to exercise control and visibility over your account and use it to its full potential.

Questions or comments? Feedback on this article is always welcome in the AskWoody Lounge!

Lance Whitney is a freelance technology reporter and former IT professional. He’s written for CNET, TechRepublic, PC Magazine, and other publications. He’s authored a book on Windows and another about LinkedIn.

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PUBLIC DEFENDER

Brian Livingston

New smartphone? Great! Now don’t charge it past 80%

By Brian Livingston

Sales of new smartphones are skyrocketing — Samsung’s new S21 line sold three times as many units in the US in March 2021 as last year’s S20 series did in the same period, according to SamMobile — but few people are learning from the manufacturers about these phones’ dirty little secret.

LANGALIST

Fred Langa

Check or change Win10’s file-sharing encryption level

By Fred Langa

If you’ve upgraded your PC from Win7, Win8, or early Win10 versions, it may still be using a thoroughly obsolete and nearly useless level of encryption for file sharing!

Plus: More on “stuttering mice” and a potentially dangerous charger-cord fire hazard!

BEST UTILTIIES

Deanna McElveen

Freeware Spotlight — Killer

By Deanna McElveen

It’s thorough, it’s free, it’s portable, it’s a little dangerous, and it has a knife icon. What’s not to love?

PATCH WATCH

Susan Bradley

Known issue rollback

By Susan Bradley

Every month we receive updates to keep us secure, but sometimes they cause other side effects. If only Microsoft had a mechanism to roll back the side effects of any update. But wait — at least for some updates, it does.


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