Whenever you sign in to AOL from a web browser, you can use the Remember Me option, which creates a cookie (small text file) telling your browser to automatically login to the service (keeping you signed in) for a period under your control. Regardless of how you accessed your account, manually signing out will clear the automatic login for that particular browser: that's right, a cookie only affects the browser you are using, not any you might have installed on that same computer. This converts into a handy trick that lets you login as a different user on the same computer just by using another web browser!
Quick Steps to log into your AOL account:
AOL Mail is an awesome, regularly updated, and full-featured webmail client: if you already have an AOL screen name, you're ready to login to your email account! Otherwise, sign up for an AOL email address (which is free, you no longer need to be a member!) before you can compose your first message (and even add a stationery to the message!), and easily check your spelling with AOL's built-in spell-check! To include a recipient as an "FYI", you can use the "Cc" field; to secretly include other people in that message, use the "Bcc" field: learn how to show and use the Cc / Bcc fields in AOL Mail, when to use them, and when to avoid using them!
Yahoo Mail Classic", AOL Mail lets you switch to a stripped-down version of the service called "
Basic", ideal for older web browsers or slow computers. There's also a high-contrast "
Accessible Version", which is somewhat faster to load. And as you'll learn in these tutorials, you can automatically login to Facebook Chat or AIM from within AOL Mail!
Tip - don't worry if you can't access your AOL account because you forgot its password: in just minute, regain access to your account by going through the AOL password reset process! Account recovery, when you can't login, is a lot easier if you've added a cell phone number to your account. You can even add another email account, to which a password reset link can be sent. (Note that it doesn't have to be an
@aim.comemail address - it can be any account you own.)
AOL Mail is highly configurable: in these first tutorials, you'll learn how to customize your inbox, create a signature, and change font size. But the most dramatic switch happens when you change your AOL Mail theme! (Excluding the AOL Mail versions (standard vs. basic, and accessible edition), which not only look different, but also change the way you interact with the webmail client.)
Unlike many webmail providers, AOL lets you have one first / last name for your main account, and a different nickname for your email account, which affects messages you send from the webmail version of the service: change your first / last name or "From" display name. But if you want to change AOL username / AIM screen name, you'll have to go the "new account" route!
After composing standard emails, learn how to send email attachments, right from AOL Mail! And there are several ways of deleting email messages you no longer want to keep. When you want to share an email with someone else, you can forward that message. By default, new messages are unread, and become read once you open them; but you can also manually mark an email as read / unread. A copy of each message you send from AOL webmail is saved to your Sent folder. And here's how you download all attachments you receive in an AOL message - either one-by-one, or all at the same time! To go behind-the-scenes, you can view the email headers or the HTML source code!
To easily find related messages, you can sort them by sender, size, date received (and more!)
AOL deals with unwanted mail in two ways: first, with a junk mail filter that automatically moves suspicious messages to the Spam folder - and you can customize your spam settings. Then, by including a "blocked list", which allows you to block email senders and domains. (You can even block messages based on their content, like keywords or file attachments!) And AOL lets you create mail filters ("email rules") to automatically file matching messages into a folder of your choice, or flag important messages for further review (a much more reliable approach than marking them as unread!) For harder-to-locate emails, you can find messages with AOL Mail's search tool. Keep all your mail organized by creating email folders (AOL doesn't handle subfolders like other webmail providers!)
When you have to leave the office for a few days, use an auto-responder to let people who email you know that you'll be on vacation by setting up a automated "mail away" message. And to remember to turn them off when you get back from vacation, send yourself reminders from the AOL calendar!
Tip: to exit the accessible or basic version and switch back to the "normal" AOL Mail, click on the "Standard Version" link in the page footer (took us a while to figure that out the first time, spending a good 10 minutes digging through every single setting in the Mail Options :)
To access your messages from a desktop email program like Windows Live Mail or Microsoft Outlook, you'll use the "AOL Mail Server Settings" to setup your account. These settings tell your email client on how to "talk" to AOL's mail servers, which security protocols are supported, etc. AOL Mail supports both POP and IMAP, which means that it will seamlessly work with any email application! The downside of a desktop email client is that you won't be able to send SMS text messages the way you can from the webmail version (web browser based) of the service.
FYI: these standard communication protocols are also supported by all mobile email clients you can think of, like iPhone Mail (same as iPad / iPod touch), Android or BlackBerry smartphones, and tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire.
You can add senders and manually create new contacts, but it's also possible to import contacts into AOL Mail via a CSV file ("
Comma-separated values") - you can edit your contacts' information later on. Likewise, you can export your AOL contacts - either for backup purposes, or to import them into another webmail provider or alternate AOL email account. AOL even supports contact groups, which makes it super-easy to email several people at the same time: learn how easily you can create a distribution list in AOL Mail.
AOL creates a free desktop software application that integrates all its offerings under one roof, for both Windows PCs and Mac OS X computers: AOL Desktop 9.7 is the current version for Microsoft Windows. Sign in to the suite to get your customized web browser, built-in email client, local weather, AIM chat capabilities (also separate download), and optionally the AOL Toolbar for IE and Firefox.
Note: AOL Desktop supports multiple users. It includes a "Switch User" command, making it ideal for a family computer, where you can sign in as a different user in a couple of clicks! And all your settings are automatically saved before logging out.
Your AOL login is used throughout AOL properties, including AOL Mail (the company's free web-based email service), and other sites like game.com - the screenshot on the left shows the AOL login box on the games.com website (which belongs to AOL / Time Warner). When an authorized third-party uses AOL for authentication, your username and password are sent directly to AOL's servers. It's an easy way to allow you to access websites and web apps with a single login (companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft do the same thing).