Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

What Is My Microsoft Account Recovery Email?

It’s something you set up before you need it.

Your Microsoft account recovery email address is an important part of making sure you never lose access to your account.

A realistic digital illustration of a PC computer screen. The screen displays a user interface with a prominent, centered prompt that reads "Enter recovery email address:". The background of the screen is a simple, user-friendly design, suggesting a security or account settings page. The entire setting conveys a modern, technological environment, focusing on the importance of security and account recovery.

One of the important aspects of keeping your Microsoft account secure is to set up account recovery methods in case you ever lose access.

Your recovery email address is one of those things.

I’ll show you how to find out if you have one set already, add it if you don’t, and change it if you need to.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!


Your Microsoft account recovery email

Setting a recovery email address for your Microsoft account is crucial for account security and recovery. To check, add, or change your recovery email, sign into your account, navigate to Security, Advanced security options, and follow the prompts to update your recovery settings. Make sure you have at least one recovery address configured and that it’s correct.

Your existing recovery email address

Let’s check to see if you have a recovery email set up. Start by clicking on your profile picture icon or letters in the upper right of your email page.

(You must be able to sign in to your Microsoft account to see or change this sensitive account information. If you cannot, you’ll need to recover access to your account first. The following assumes you have access to your account.)

My Microsoft Account link.
My Microsoft Account link. (Screenshot:

Click on the My Microsoft account link.

This will open a new page.

Security link in the My Account page.
Security link in the My Account page. (Screenshot:

Click on the Security link in the left-hand pane.

This will cause a variety of Security options to be displayed.

Advanced Security options link.
Advanced Security options link. Click for larger image. (Screenshot:

Click on Advanced security options.

This will open a page called “Ways to prove who you are”.

Ways to prove who you are.
Options for identity verification. Click for larger image. (Screenshot:

If you see an envelope followed by “Email a code”, that line lists a recovery email address. You can see I have two configured for this account: and an additional one. I also have options to send a sign-in notification to the Microsoft authenticator on my smartphone or use Windows Hello on two other machines.

If you don’t see “Email a code”,  you have no recovery email address configured. You should add one now.

Adding a recovery email address

Click on Add a new way to sign in or verify at the bottom of the existing list.

You’ll be asked which approach you want to add.

What should we add?
Choosing a verification method. (Screenshot:

Click on Email a code.

Adding an alternate email address.
Adding an alternate email address. (Screenshot:

Enter the alternate email address you want to add. It must be different than the email address of this account but can be any other email address to which you have access.

Click on Next. A code will be sent to the email address you’ve specified.

Enter the code.
Entering the verification code. (Screenshot:

This proves you have access to the alternate account you’re attempting to set up. Enter the code, click Next, and you’ll find this new email address listed in the “Ways to prove who you are”.

Alternate address added.
The alternate address was added. Click for larger image. (Screenshot:

Note: at some points during this process, you may be asked to prove who you are to be allowed to make the change. This prevents someone from walking up to your computer and making changes to your already-signed-in account without your knowledge or permission.

Changing a recovery email address

Changing your recovery email address once you’ve set it up turns out to be simple.

In the “Ways to prove who you are” list, click on the item you want to remove. Additional information about that entry will be displayed.

Removing an alternate email address.
Removing an alternate email address. Click for larger image. (Screenshot:

Click on Remove. You’ll be asked to confirm.

Remove email?
Confirm your desire to remove the email. (Screenshot:

Click on Remove, and the alternate email address will be removed.

Do this

It’s crucial to have account recovery information set up for your account. Not doing so is the number one reason I see people lose access to their accounts permanently. As you can see in the examples above, you can set up multiple email addresses and other methods.

Check to see that you have at least one set up. Make sure it’s correct and it’s an active account you currently have access to. If not, add or change as needed.

I also recommend you subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

Podcast audio


4 comments on “What Is My Microsoft Account Recovery Email?”

  1. OK Leo, pardon my 86 year old density, but I never used Outlook. Do I even HAVE a Microsoft account? I have a password to get into Windows but ??? am I messing out by not using Outlook? I don’t know what Outlook even does. Should I care? I’m never the only one that’s puzzled so please, for people who don’t and probably won’t use Outlook (whatever it is), do I have a Microsoft account and how do I secure access to it?


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.