This section provides troubleshooting information for senders who are having trouble reaching Outlook users by email. If you are an Outlook user looking for support with your account, please visit our end user support page.
If you are experiencing problems delivering email to Outlook please first ensure that you are following all of the requirements found on our Policies and Guidelines page.
Are you managing your IP and Domain’s sending reputation?
Microsoft’s SmartScreen® technology is designed to provide anti-spam filtering innovations for Outlook as well as other Microsoft products like Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Outlook and Windows Live Mail. We also leverage the Sender ID framework, an email authentication technology protocol that helps address the problem of spoofing and phishing by verifying that the domain sending the email is authorized to do so. SmartScreen® email filters are influenced by a number of factors related to the sending IP, domain, authentication, list accuracy, complaint rates, content and more. Of these, one of the principal factors in driving down a sender’s reputation and deliverability is their junk email complaint rate.
Are you sending email from new IPs?
IPs not previously used to send email typically don’t have any reputation built up in our systems. As a result, emails from new IPs are more likely to experience deliverability issues. Once the IP has built a reputation for not sending spam, Outlook will typically allow for a better email delivery experience.
New IPs that are added for domains that are authenticated under existing Sender ID records typically experience the added benefit of inheriting some of the domain’s sending reputation. If the domain has a good sending reputation new IPs may experience a faster ramp up time. A new IP can expect to be fully ramped within a couple of weeks or sooner depending on volume, list accuracy and as long as their junk email complaint rates are kept at a minimum. To update or create your Sender ID record, click here.
Note: In addition, to adding your new IPs to existing Sender ID records, don’t forget to update your Junk Email Reporting Program (JMRP) account with the new IPs as well. To update or set up a JMRP account, click here.
Are you running Anti-Virus software?
Some of the deliverability issues are the result of sender-based software configurations. If you are running anti-virus software on your firewall or SMTP server, check for the setting “Internet Email Auto Protect” or “Internet Email Protection.” If this setting is enabled, disable it and try sending a test message to our servers again.
If you are currently running Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 9.x or 10.x on your server, please review this article from Symantec Support.
Confirm that your DNS is set-up correctly
Try connecting to mail.hotmail.com via port 25. If you are unable to connect, then attempt to telnet over port 25 directly to our email servers (MTAs). You can find the current list of our MTAs by querying “nslookup –q=mx hotmail.com” from a command prompt (this should work in a variety of Operating Systems). Currently, the addresses for these servers are mx1.hotmail.com, mx2.hotmail.com, mx3.hotmail.com and mx4.hotmail.com. If that doesn’t work, try connecting directly to the IPs. If you are able to connect directly to the IP and not mail.hotmail.com, then it is likely there is an issue with your DNS server. You may be able to confirm this by visiting www.dnsreport.com to identify and resolve DNS or email delivery problems with your domain.
Occasionally, some of the IPs in our MX record may be out of service. If you are connecting to one of these IPs your connection may timeout. Make sure you test all of our published IPs. You may also configure your outbound email server to do a round-robin DNS lookup for Outlook.com.
Are you advertising yourself as a non-routable IP?
We may not accept email from senders who fail a reverse-DNS lookup. In some cases legitimate senders advertise themselves incorrectly as a non-internet routable IP when attempting to open a connection to Outlook. IP addresses that are reserved for private (non-routable) networking are 192.168.0.0/16, 10.0.0.0/8, and 172.16.0.0/11 (or 192.168.0.0 - 192.168.255.255, 10.0.0.0 - 10.255.255.255, 172.16.0.0 - 172.31.255.255).
Sender services, tools, and issue submission
We have developed some tools and services which will give you more information about how our users are rating your email. These services have been tailored for senders and for ISPs. To learn more about the Sender and ISP Services, go here.
If your email complies with our policies and guidelines and you are still experiencing email delivery problems that are not addressed in the FAQ below, click here to contact support.
Note: Deliverability issues submitted using this form should only be related to the Outlook system, including any address @msn.com, @Outlook.com, @hotmail.com, or @live.com. We will do our best to help you troubleshoot your issue. However, submitting this information does not guarantee that any message you send to users of the Outlook services will be delivered.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the email that I send to Outlook users sometimes look different from what they receive?
Avoid using scripting languages as they may be removed from your message. Many email messages now contain HTML code similar to that found in a Web page. This often helps with formatting and design. Outlook now analyzes and processes HTML content to remove HTML code that may be unsafe for your computer. This change is part of Microsoft’s overall Trustworthy Computing Initiative and was made to further reduce the risk of malicious HTML content reaching our users.
How can I prevent my messages from being marked as from an “unknown sender” in the Outlook interface?
One way to ensure that your messages aren’t marked as being from an “unknown sender” is to join Return Path’s Sender Score Certified Email program, a third-party accreditation and reputation service that provides Outlook with a list of responsible senders. Alternatively, if an Outlook user adds your domain or email address to their “contacts” or their “safe-senders list” they will no longer see this notification. In addition, senders who are on the Return Path Sender Score Certified list or on a user’s “safe sender’s” list typically experience links and images within their messages enabled by default.
Should I publish a SPF record, a Sender ID record, or both?
In the majority of cases, using the SPF record will satisfy both SPF as well as Sender ID verification within Outlook systems. Organizations that wish to publish a Sender ID record are encouraged to do so. This second record will be used for Sender ID validations, of the PRA domain only, and will take precedence over the classic SPF record.
Does Outlook operate an “allow list” that I can get on?
No. An "allow list" is essentially a "free pass" which allows emails from certain senders to bypass junk email filters and other precautions. Outlook evaluates all inbound email for malicious content. You can find out more about our filtering processes here. We do, however, partner with Return Path, Inc. who helps ensure the legitimacy of certain senders via their Sender Score Certified program. This program allows Outlook to exercise greater assurance about mail from certified senders in good standing. You can learn more about the Sender Score Certified program here.
How do I avoid having my messages marked as potentially dangerous?
To help prevent your messages from being identified as possibly fraudulent:
Why did I receive a “550 command rejected due to Sender ID validation failure..” SMTP Non-Delivery Report (NDR) when I attempt to send mail to Outlook users?
Outlook will not allow delivery of email sent from a domain where the Sender ID record was configured by the domain owner to NOT allow ANY IP to send mail from that domain. Sender ID allows a domain owner to protect domains that aren’t intended for sending email in order to help protect their domain from being spoofed. This can be done by publishing a simple TXT record in DNS like the following example (note: the organization would replace example.com with their own domain and or sub-domain name):
example.com IN TXT “v=spf1 -all”
If the domain is repurposed to send mail, the administrator of the DNS record should update the Sender ID record to include the IP address(s) that are authorized to send mail from that domain. Note that updates to your Sender ID record can take up to 48 hours to propagate through the Internet, so it’s a good idea to wait 48 hours after making a change to your record before you initiate any new email activities. In addition, Microsoft strongly recommends that you conduct email testing prior to sending live communications to your users/customers.
SMTP Error Codes