Guide: How to get a new Live ID and keep all your Windows Phone app purchases

Want to get a whole new Live ID and start fresh with Microsoft? Here's how to transfer your account.

Microsoft's Live ID (soon to be renamed "Microsoft Account") is the key to all things from Redmond these days. Whether it’s your Xbox 360, SkyDrive, Live Mail, Zune Pass, App Hub account, Messenger or Windows Phone, your Live ID is at the heart.

The question is what if you want to change your Live ID?

Here we don't mean switching just on the phone, which unfortunately requires a hard-reset (and no, we don't have a work around for that, sorry). Instead, we're talking about what if you have an old email account and you want a new one instead? Maybe you're not happy with your current user name or like us, you have used your Hotmail account since 2002 as a glorified spam experiment.

We'll walk you through the process of getting a new Live ID and making sure all your other services back-propagate to reflect the change keeping all of your services intact.

Read on after the break for our guide...


Why change?

To begin with, some of you may be wondering why you would want to change your Live ID in the first place. We'll give you our reason.

We've had our Hotmail account since 2002 which pre-dated even Google's Gmail (introduced in 2004). Back in the day, was great for registering with sites, buying things, etc. but not for your "real" email. Instead, we had our ISP email accounts for that and our Hotmail quickly became our "junk email" account, our throw away if you will.

That was fine for many years as Hotmail was pretty weak for most of the 2000s as Gmail stole the limelight. Then a funny thing happened: Windows Phone 7. All of a sudden your Hotmail account was your Live ID account and it was the key for using a Windows Phone 7 device. We still didn't use Hotmail though, so we ignored it. And it got more spammed.

Now in 2012, between SkyDrive, Live Mail, Windows Phone Marketplace, App Hub, Messenger and our growing dislike with all things Google, we decided to give up on Gmail.

That and Hotmail/Live Mail got good. Like real good. So we wanted back into Microsoft’s cloud.

But our Hotmail account was lame, it was broken. It was full of spam, had the antiquated address and frankly we just don’t like our username. Our second problem is Hotmail users can’t change their Live ID in the settings (don’t think we haven’t tried).

So we want a new Live ID. We want to start from scratch (and not just change our email address).

But what happens to our Xbox 360 account? What about our $15 a month Zune Pass (with free 10 song credit)? Our App Hub account? And those apps…sure, you have bought apps for Windows Phone, but we’ve spent well over $600. Surely we’re not going to start over and lose all of that, are we?

That’s our reason and our concern. You may have yours. Whatever it may be, let’s move on to getting that switch.


Switching your Live ID

Part I - First, check if you can change your Live ID manually. That will be the easiest method though we have to warn you, original Hotmail accounts can’t do this.

  • Go to and sign in
  • Where your Live ID is listed (first line), select “Change”
  • If you’re allowed to change it, then by all means, you’re almost done! No need to go on.

If you are told you cannot make the change like in the image above, then you have our problem. Continue reading on for the fix.

Part II - This is where it gets tricky. According to the Windows Phone FAQ (opens in new tab), if you change your Live ID on your phone, you’ll have to hard-reset the phone and you’ll lose your apps.

More importantly, they note

“If you buy apps, games, music, or videos using one Windows Live ID, you won’t be able to use those same things with your new Windows Live ID. You’ll need to buy them or download them again.”

Ouch. But all is not lost and there is a way to change your Live ID, keep your accounts and your app purchases. Only caveat: you will need an Xbox 360.

First, on your PC go to

  • Create a new Live ID account of your choice. We went with a over

Log on to your Xbox 360

  • Go to Settings --> Account
  • Scroll to “Your Information”
  • Select “Windows Live ID”
  • Select Change Windows Live ID
  • Answer “Yes” to you already have a new Windows Live ID
  • Follow the prompts for associating your Xbox 360 account with the new Live ID

You’re done.


What just happened?

For some reason, you cannot change your Live ID through the web but you can change it on the Xbox 360.

More importantly, what will happen over the next 30-60 minutes is your Zune Pass will transfer over to your new account as will your previous Windows Phone app purchases. Likewise our App Hub even transferred. You’ll then want to sign into Zune Desktop too with your new account.

What comes next though is the ugly part: you still need to hard-reset your Windows Phone. There’s no way around that, sorry.

Once you do though, enter in your new Windows Live ID and you should be able to download your previously purchased apps, have your licenses for your Zune songs, etc.

As far as we’ve been able to discern you can only change your Live ID and have it roll to your other accounts through the Xbox 360. We could not do it through our Zune account, Windows Phone account and definitely not our account.


Live ID


If you want to change your Live ID, pick out a new permanent email address and start fresh in the Microsoft “cloud” system, then you’ll want to create that new Live ID and transfer it on your Xbox 360 account.

Doing so will insure that all your music and apps get passed to the new account as well as keeping your Xbox Gamer account and stats.

In short, we lost nothing in doing this and it was actually very easy once we figured out Microsoft’s ridiculous system.

Only downside was we don’t have 25GB of storage on SkyDrive as that was only a limited offer for older accounts. So we have to settle for 7GB for now.

But hey, we have a swanky new Live ID, a non-embarrassing email account that is clean and spam free and we’re now happily using all of Microsoft’s cloud services full-time.

We're also ready for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 in the fall.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Thanks I meaning to look into how to do this. :)
  • I was onboard until I read, hard reset, and more importantly, no 25gb SkyDrive. Ah well, guess I'm sticking with @hotmail
  • Yeah if I had my new Live ID pre-created and it just waiting (they keep it active for 270 days), I'd be all set. That was the only negative but as it turns out, right now I don't use that much SkyDrive to warrant 25GB. Still would have been nice though!
  • Dan do u have a case on ur titan witch one if so cuz I'd like to get one for my dads titan
  • Gah, I just realized I did have another email set aside, that was @live. But I missed the upgrade to 25gb :-/
    Guess it all boils down to how much I actually plan on using. Since I can easily backup my phone and then reset it...
  • Can it merge 2 accounts? or does it override?
  • Override. Meaning you'll still have access to that account as an email address but it won't be linked in anyway to Xbox, Zune or Windows Phone.
  • I did this two months ago with the xbox to help my brother out, didn't consider the implications for Windows Phone. This is great!
  • You can do it through the website. , just sign in to your account, go to my account and click transfer content licenses.
  • Yeah, but that path only takes you to the xbox again :-) Follow the instructions and you will se that they want you to do this on your xbox console.
  • I actually did this way back in 2006 when I wanted to change my Windows Live ID after I had just changed my gamertag (so they matched & yeah I did spend the 800 Microsoft Points)
    What I also think shouldn't be overlooked is that if you do this I would advise that you allso link the old Windows Live ID to the new one, so that account will remain active & keep all your SkyDrive files (I did use this in 2006 when it launched), contacts, calenders etc You can also set the E-Mail account to "exclusive" to stop all e-mail unless in the contact list/you have sent an e-mail to a contact.
    Unfortanatly linking the ID's still keeps the accounts seperate and cannot be merged but is easy to switch between the accounts without having to sign out and back in again; as I mentioned before the best part of this is that it will mean that the account will never expire as long as the primary account is used regularly and you dont have to look at the other account unless you want to check it out; my only main benifit at the moment is that I now have 2 x 25GB of storage should I need it. =D
  • Umm if you just want a account you don't have to do any of this. In your hotmail inbox on the website hover over the word "inbox" then click on the gear and select "create a Hotmail alias". This will let you create any live or hotmail address you want as a subaccount under your current ID.
  • I've tried this method but if you have hotmail friends that have virusy hotmail accounts you still some how get spam even without broudcasting the e-mail it's not amazing but I get what your saying it's no differnt to merging a G-Mail or AOL account to your unified inbox (which acctually work better FYI)
  • I actually don't use my Hotmail account for anything but my Windows Phone and to buy apps on the Windows Marketplace (plus SkyDrive I guess), so its no big deal that I don't have an account.  I use my iCloud email account on my Windows Phone and I sync with iTunes and iPhoto on my iMac, so it works out well.
  • No $25gb skydrive?
  • It's worth noting that there is a bug in this process - if you've never logged onto an XBOX before.
    I've had my LIVE ID for a couple of years - I recently wanted to do exactly as described above, but I don't have an XBOX. So I borrowed one from a friend. I went through the process, only to receive an error message saying "You can only change your ID once every 30 days and not within 30 days of creating your account". I contacted XBOX support who were completely useless - one of the guys claimed I had already changed my account (I hadn't as I had no way of doing it previously), and another told me that my account had been freed up and I should be able to change it now (I couldn't). After 30 days after the initial attempt, surprise surprise - I was able to perform the process successfully.
    I can only assume that the 30 day limit is relative to the first time you log onto an XBOX - NOT the time you create the LIVE ID.
    Hope this helps someone - it was incredibly frustrating to find this out for myself, and also for my friend who had to do without his XBOX for 30 days!
  • It can actually be even worse. I helped my brother and got in the exact situation you describe here. So we waited 30 days before we tried again. Same error "you have to wait 30 days". The second time we waited almost 60 days to be on the safe side. Guess what? Same error and the support personnel have absolutely no clue :-(
  • If going through the exercise of changing your Microsoft Account you may want to consider using your own domain name instead of
  • interesting. i dont even remember the process i went through but i basically merged my old hotmail and gmail and eventually phased out the hotmail acct. so now, my gmail is pretty much my live id. i guess its good that i did all that before i got my wp7 phone and skydrive.
  • Hotmail was always better than Gmail even tho ymail was king back then.
  • It's worth noting that you can use any email address as a Windows Live ID/Microsoft Account. Even better, when you use a non email address as your ID, you can change your ID directly on the web site as per Part I in the article without jumping through the rest of the hoops (except for hard-reseting the phone).
  • Exactly. I've been using my Yahoo email forever for this with no problems.
  • Had to do this the other day because I got that nessage that my live ID was used on the maximum five devices so had to get a new live ID and switch my gamertag on my Xbox. I couln't download any apps for three days.....but I'm back baby!
  • I made a separate account for my Xbox live account back in 2007. My old hotmail was created back in 2002. Its a spam collector.
  • I actually did this 2 weeks ago. I don't own a XBOX though. I did this by using the web. Very easy actually. I'll try to replicate my actions and publish it somewhere. Might be useful for those who don't own a XBOX, like me.
  • That would be very useful if you could tell us how you did it.
  • Can you move across regions? Is can a new us account pull over the apps on my Canadian account?
  • This. Anyone successfully changed their LiveID from a Canada -> USA account?
  • I assume you want to create a account in Canada. I did by downloading TorBrowser then .com was a choice. Or get someone in the US or any other country (Bermuda for one) where Microsoft doesn't force its boneheaded country restrictions.
  • Wish this was all explained BEFORE I setup my device the very first time. It's all good now, but back a couple years ago it was a real bummer.
  • I fumbled my way through this about a month ago and although the hard reset on my phone sucked I was able to get it done in time to get the 25gb on skydrive so I'm feeling privileged right now!
  • You can change the live ID on the phone with root access and some registry edits
  • My live ID stopped working on my Titan a month ago and I can't figure out how to fix it. Xbox still works as well as other things, but when I log into email and accounts it says it reached an unknown problem.
  • I just use an alias. Sucks though that I can't send from my alias on my phone.
  • This is helpful.  I went through hell trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my e-mail addresses.  I ended up creating a new ID and keeping my old ISP domain ID.  Can I still switch my app stuff over to this new Live ID?  Or do I need to actually CREATE it as part of this process?
  • I 2nd the alias.
  • Also - if the 'live' branding is going away - why get set with a live account.  I'm partying with my since I"m going to party like it's 1999 baby!  (and yes, my hotmail has been a 10 year spam experiment)
  • THIS
  • Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but it's confusing. My understanding is that, yes, the Windows Live branding is going. For whatever reason, you want the @live because it can connect to cloud-based services better/more effectively than @hotmail...I'm guessing since it was more recently created. Therefore, Microsoft will be making it so @hotmail will turn into pretty much email only while @live will be used for Skydrive, Zune/"Woodstock", Windows 8/WP8, etc.
  • Thanks Daniel. I'm saving this and will go through it when I have more time because I've been wanting to do this for
    I'm glad you mentioned the free 25MB upgrade because I did that on the hotmail account I have hooked to my WP but I forgot to do in on another ID that I created last year in the hope that I could switch over to it. I just signed in to that account was still able to get the free upgrade to 25MBs.
  • Is it possible to play Xbox live games (such as Millionaire) and stack the gamerscore from different regions doing this? I won't, but it would be cool to know that its possible.
  • Actually all app purchases are associated with your Xbox account, so pretty much if you have an Xbox 360 just change the email there, otherwise you'll have to do it through Zune or web. The main problem is the Xbox account, that is if you want to change region settings, which unfortunately you can't, you'll end up starting all over again.
  • Geez, I could've used this info like a month ago when I had to switch to a new live account for domain reasons and had to give up my $14.99 zune subscription with the 10 monthly credits.
  • haha I had my hotmail account since 1997 or round about then. stopped using it many years ago as it was my spam account as well. e.g. need to create an account to view tech help from a tech site but you know they just gonna spam you once you sign up.
    then when I got my WP7 in 2011 and it asked for my live id, i knew I could use my hotmail account but thought no way, it's my rubbish account. so got myself a new live id straight away and have been using that since. i used to use my IP's e-mail address as primary e-mail but you're right Live account is awesome and that is now my number 1 email address. 
    I'm just a bit concerned that they're changing Live to Microsoft Account. I like the Live brand and I hope it stays.
  • Thanks.
  • Damn I don't have an Xbox. but wait. Why do I want to change it to @live account?
  • I have tried like since FOREVER to change my Live ID manually thru but it always says it's not possible at the time.
    I have tried with my (created 2004), @live (2008) and @live (2011).
    Does that feature actually work???
  • Daniel- could you make a slight modification to your article? Where it says, "you should be able to download your previously purhcased apps", the process seems a little unsettling. I did this last night and finish it up this morning. When I went back to start installing purchased apps the options were "buy" and "try". I would think if it was properly associated that it would have different language like it does when an app is installed. Once I clicked buy, thankfully, a message popped up that said it appeared I had already purchased the app and I could simply download it.
    For anyone that doesn't believe in paying for apps, but broke down and bought just one, this might be helpful to them so they can get access back.
  • Hey has anyone tried this with the new address that was released today. WP Central? Maybe you could run a quick story and see if this still works? I currently have a 17 year old Hotmail account and I think I am ready to dump it. Thanks WP Central!
    - J
  • just the questioned i wanted to ask. i've had my @hotmail since i was 13 and 11 years later its embarrassing having to tell people my email. i have a @hotmail with part of my full name but now i want to upgrade my 11 year old @hotmail with a new @outlook that will have all my apps and xbox360 game downloads with my full name instead of the silly one i chose all those years ago
  • My question is what that XBOX360 switch does? What I expect is that I will do that XBOX360 thing and all my purchases and xbox live account will transform from my @hotmail account to my @outlook account. But what about emails? Does thisswitch "connect" the email adresses? I wan only to transform my purchases and xbox account from my hotmal to outlook account. I wan the email inboxes separate. Is this how it works? Anybody?
  • I have a account and microsoft won't let me rename it to anything, neither @live @ hotmail or @outlook. This account also has 25GB of Skydrive storage. Can I use this method to use @outlook? Does it keep my 25GB storage? 
  • i have new XBOX 360 Slimline but i dont find any of thease settings in menu....
    i cant log with my old Live accounts, only worked creating of new account
    found in Profile - Account Security option for chage Live ID where can merge (i think is merge) new account with my old (which used in WP7) but must wait 30 days.... did anyone can confirm this is OK? 
  • You have to wait 30 days.
  • Did this last night, this afternoon when i set my phone back up all my purchases were there on the new ID on the website. Can't reinstall them yet, gives me some mumbo jumbo about my region. Contacted Support and the guy was awesome, understood crystal clear what i did to my account using Xbox. Said it could take about 3 days for everything to switch over properly. I'll post back here Sunday or Monday when i try again.
    *Note i didn't change regions or anything like that. Just the xbox thing to a new live ID. Same phone, same number.
  • Did this end up working for you?
  • Can anyone confirm that the free 25 GB Skydrive on an old Live/Hotmail-account will also be transferred to the outlook-account when doing this via the xbox?
  • I'm in the same trouble right now and have no XBox available. But I stumbled over a site which should do the trick aswell:
    Means if you download Games for Windows Live then you can move your GamerTag from one account to another which should also transfer the associated data. Will try this later today.
  • To Thomas Gruber,
    That is a quick way to burn $10 changing JUST your gamer tag, not the LIVE ID. Just a heads up. The method you linked via the Game for Windows home screen is ONLY foor the gamer tag, not the LIVE ID.