WLMIdentities V1.01 (8th Feb, 2012)

See http://www.cogentengineering.co.uk for the most up to date information.

WLMIdentities provides the ability to access a different email account or set of email accounts each time Microsoft's Windows Live Mail is started (referred to as WLM from now on). The effect is similar to when a user logs out of Windows and another user logs in again with his/her own WLM configuration. An identity is selected using WLMIdentities and then, when WLM is run, it shows the email accounts which were configured using the selected identity and also the layout, options and other settings which were configured using that identity.

This functionality was built into Microsoft's Outlook Express (and maybe other email clients) but has not been included in WLM. Microsoft's explanation for excluding this feature from WLM was that the identities mechanism did not provide enough security to the user. Instead, Microsoft expects users to log out of Windows and log in as a separate user if they wish to switch email accounts. In many cases, such as a home PC which may be only configured with a single admin account, this is not convenient. See What happened to e-mail identities? for more information.

WLMIdentities allows different sets of email accounts to be configured per identity by renaming directories and registry keys when identities are switched. WLM itself is not modified in any way and is not aware of any identity switching. It just uses its default file system directories and registry keys each time it runs, unaware that they may have been switched since last time it was run.

WLMIdentities can be run either from a command prompt or from the dialog which is displayed if the application is run with no parameters specified. The following parameters may be specified on the command line:

/run <identity>Switch to the specified identity and run WLM
/switch <identity>Switch to the specified identity (don't run WLM)
/rename <identity1>:<identity2>Rename identity1 to identity2 (if it is not the current)
/delete <identity>Delete the specified identity (if it is not the current)
/create <identity>Create a new identity using the current identity as a template

When using the WLMIdentities dialog, a similar set of buttons appear on the right hand side, plus a few others as shown below:

Run MailSwitch to the highlighted identity and run WLM
Switch ToSwitch to the highlighted identity (don't run WLM)
RenameRename the highlighted identity (if it is not the current)
DeleteDelete the highlighted identity (if it is not the current)
Quick LaunchAdd or remove the highlighted identity to/from the Quick Launch Bar
Create NewCreate a new identity using the current identity as a template
HelpShow this help
CloseClose the dialog

Most of these buttons are pretty obvious in their functionality, however the [Quick Launch] button requires a little extra description. When this button is pressed, a new icon appears in the Quick Launch toolbar which is equivalent to a shortcut to the WLMIdentities executable with "/run <identity>" specified as parameters. Clicking on this icon will immediately launch WLM with the appropriate identity selected. An icon will appear to the right of the identity in the dialog list which is the same as the icon in the Quick Launch toolbar. You can change the icon in the Quick Launch toolbar by right clicking on it and selecting Properties and then clicking on the [Change Icon...] button. It is recommended to select different icons for each identity. Having changed its icon, the new icon will appear to the right of the corresponding identity in the WLMIdentities list (though only after the identities list is redrawn). If the [Quick Launch] button is pressed again, the icon is removed from the Quick Launch toolbar.

Note: on Windows 7, the Quick Launch toolbar is not displayed by default, but you can make is appear exactly the same as on Windows XP or Vista. To do this:

  1. Right click on the Task Bar
  2. Select "Toolbars" and then "New toolbar..."
  3. Navigate to C:\Users\<your user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
  4. Click on the [Select Folder] button
  5. Optionally, unlock the Task Bar (right click on the Task Bar and uncheck "Lock the taskbar")
  6. Position the Quick Launch toolbar where you would like it (usually to the far left of the Task Bar)
  7. Right click on the Quick Launch toolbar (with the cursor over the dotted drag area) and uncheck "Show Text" and "Show title"

First Usage

When WLMIdentities is first run, there will not be any identities set up. When the dialog mode is running, the identity list will be empty. The best time to run WLMIdentities is just after WLM has been installed (and run at least once) so that the configuration is created but empty. To create your first identity, click the [Create New] button. This will make a copy of the existing WLM configuration and name it as you specify at the prompt. After this, there will be two identities listed: the new one you just named and one called "Default". The Default identity cannot be renamed or deleted and always contains a copy of the WLM configuration when WLMIdentities was first run. You can treat this as a failsafe backup. You can switch to and run the Default identity, but this is not recommended as your failsafe backup will be modified. The current identity will be marked with a small icon to the left of the identity. This is the identity which will be active if WLM is run. After this, you may either switch to your new identity or create more new identities.

If you have any problems with this software or suggestions for enhancements then you can email me at support@cogentengineering.co.uk, however I only develop this software on an occasional basis so please don't expect a speedy response.


WLMIdentities has been tested on Windows XP, Vista and 7. Please note that WLMIdentities only works with Windows Live Mail and not Windows Mail which is a different application. Windows Live Mail can be downloaded for free at http://download.live.com/wlmail.


If you have found WLMIdentities useful, and feel so inclined, donations would be gratefully received at my Paypal account (use support@cogentengineering.co.uk as the Paypal account). You can click on the Donate button on the WLMIdentities dialog to take you straight to a PayPal donation page. Thank you in advance to anyone who is kind enough to provide support in this manner.

Software Update Security

If a newer version of the software becomes available, a notification will be displayed in the dialog. You may choose to download it as you wish. A check is only made if the dialog is run, not if a command is run by passing a parameter into the command line. Update notifications are read from a download control file (DCF) on an update server. The DCF is authenticated using PKCS#1v1.5, incorporating RSA encryption in a digital signature attached to it which means that false notifications from hackers are impossible (or near enough). The DCF includes an authentication key for the new download image which means that the new software will only be saved to your hard drive after having been authenticated and so it is guaranteed to be secure and uncorrupted. See http://www.cogentengineering.co.uk for a list of the changes incorporated into the new release.

Beta Software Updates

If you are prepared to run beta software (may not be as reliable as full release software) then you can add the registry DWORD value SearchBetas in the key "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail Identities" and set its value to 1. Doing this will allow WLMIdentities to check for beta software on the update server.

Update History

VersionRelease DateDescription
1.019th Feb 2010Initial release
1.018th Jan 2012Ability to automatically close WLM to switch to a new user


The software has been written to run on a standard configuration of Windows and WLM. If you have a non-standard Windows configuration for some reason then it is possible that the WLMIdentities may not run correctly. The following assumptions have been made:

If wlmail.exe cannot be found then its path can be written to the registry string value WLMailPath in the key "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail Identities".


The method used to switch identities was developed by inspection, trial and error by the author. Microsoft have not approved or even hinted at manipulating the file system and registry in this manner. Users should only run this program in the understanding that it is only tested on the author's own PC systems and includes no warantee or promises of full functionality on all systems. The author is not liable if you lose all your emails!

Windows Live Mail is copyright Microsoft Corporation.