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August 12, 2009

Customizing Your Windows Live Messenger Contact List

This is the first of several upcoming blog posts on different aspects of Windows Live Essentials. For more information on the Windows 7 + Windows Live experience – click here.

First, I would like to congratulate the Windows Live Messenger Team for 10 years of Messenger! Find out how *you* can celebrate the 10 Year Anniversary of Windows Live Messenger by reading this blog post from the Messenger Team. I have the pleasure of being able to say I’ve been a Messenger user since V1. It’s been exciting to see the progression of Messenger over the last decade.

Today, I use Windows Live Messenger as a primary communication vehicle (outside of email) with friends and colleagues. As you can imagine, I have a pretty big contact list. Being able to manage and customize the layout of my contact list is pretty important.

By default, Messenger will show all contacts in your contact list online or offline, as well as groups. Messenger will also show the tab bar, favorites, and What’s New feed. To customize this default layout of your contact list, you can click the contact list layout button next to the add contact button in Messenger (see below screenshot).

Change Layout in Messenger


The Options window will appear with the layout options for your contact list.


This is where you can customize the layout of your contacts list in Messenger to fit your needs.

For me, because I have so many contacts in my contacts list, I find that I am doing a lot of scrolling between the different categories. Looking at my own IM behavior, I’m usually chatting with contacts that are online. So to help alleviate some of the scrolling, I have unchecked “Show offline contacts”. This means that contacts that are offline will not appear in my contact list in Messenger until they come online.

You can view contacts on your contact list by different sizes in Messenger: Large, Medium, Small or Status only. To consume less space on my contacts list, I’ve chosen to view contacts by status only. What’s great here is you can choose the sizes of your contacts by your main contact list and favorite contacts just in case you want your favorite contacts viewed differently than the rest.

If you someone who’s not using Windows Live Groups, you can uncheck “Show groups” so this category doesn’t appear on your contact list. You can also do this for other parts of the window on this menu too.

Hopefully talking about this helps those of you with large contact lists like me manage and customize the layout for a better experience in Messenger!

One last thing – did you know that Windows Live uses a unified contacts “store”? That means the same contacts you have in Messenger are the same contacts you have in Hotmail or in Windows Live Mail on the PC. More on this and other aspects of Windows Live Essentials in upcoming blog posts!