I was hoping to give you a tutorial today on using AOL’s famous chat app, AIM instant messenger, but unfortunately, it would be pointless. AIM chat was officially shut down last month, on December 15, 2017. This affects all AIM products and services, including associated data (sent and received files, chat logs, etc.) that wasn’t backed up somewhere else prior to that date.
If you use AOL Mail, you should know that your email account is still fine and operational. The only difference now is you will no longer see some email options that had to do with AIM, like displaying your screen name and online status on AIM in your emails.
You can find more detailed information on AOL’s help pages. When you try to go to the old AIM homepage, www.aim.com, you will be automatically redirected to the help page about the instant messenger shut down.
Why was AIM chat discontinued?
The first questions that are listed on the AIM messenger help page ask why the chat app was discontinued, and what new product has replaced it. As you can see, the answers given to these questions are not particularly satisfying.
However, a statement from a spokesperson from AOL’s new parent company (which also owns Verizon and Yahoo, among other major brands) offers a better explanation, saying that AIM was a pioneer in its day, “But the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed.”
Knowing that many people had given up AIM chat years ago in favor of newer products like Facebook, WhatsApp, or SnapChat, the decision to shut down the instant messenger didn’t exactly come as a surprise. Still, the program had just celebrated its 20th birthday, so there is still a bit of a nostalgic sting to the loss.
Nor is this a decision without precedent—MSN Messenger was discontinued the year before (it was no longer needed due to Microsoft’s ownership of Skype), and Yahoo Messenger was also shut down (and later reincarnated).
So, instead of a tutorial, this post is a farewell to AIM chat. You can almost hear its iconic sign out notification sound as the door closes one last time.
There is no rule saying you have to put contacts in your address book in order to stay in touch with them via AOL Mail, but it is a convenient way to keep them organized. Plus, it is a useful place to store useful information about people that you might otherwise forget. When it comes to instant messenger applications like AIM, however, the normal thing to do is to add contacts to your list so you can always see who’s online to chat with.
In today’s tutorial, we’ll go over how to add contacts to both AOL Mail and AIM instant messenger. And, because anything can happen, we’ll also talk about how to delete contacts from both of these services.
To get started, make sure you are signed in to AOL Mail so that you can see the left sidebar that is used for email navigation.
How to add contacts in AOL Mail
When logged in to your AOL account, you can easily access your address book of contacts at any time by finding the section labeled “Contacts” in the left sidebar.
As you can see, my address book is empty because I haven’t added any contacts yet. When you have added people to your AOL contacts, though, they will appear here, with whatever information you have provided for them: name, email address, AIM screen name, phone number, etc.
To add a new contact in AOL Mail, click on the button near the top of the address book that looks like a little person with a “+” sign.
In the “New Contact” form, you can add any and all information that you have about the person you want to save to your AOL address book. This will usually include at least their first name and email address, which would be the bare minimum for keeping track of who everybody is. If you have a nickname for them, or want to add a note to help you remember (e.g. how you met), that can go in the “Nickname” field. To add them on AIM chat as well, if you know their screen name, you can enter it in the “AIM” field. And so on and so forth…
As an example, I’ll add my mom as a contact. First, I’ll enter “Mom” as her first name (no last name necessary, of course). And in the “Email 1” field, I’ve typed in the email address I use to communicate with her. When I have added all the information I want to add, I will finish the process by clicking on the “Add Contact” button at the bottom of the form.
You will now see the new contact you have added as it will appear whenever you access it from your address book. (The picture was set by default, but you can add one of your own if you prefer).
Now, if you return to your AOL Mail address book by clicking on the “Contacts” link in the left menu just like before, you can see that your newly added contact appears there. Once you have added more contacts, they will also be shown here as a list.
You can then access any one of them to send email, edit information, etc. by clicking on them in the list view.
How to delete contacts in AOL Mail
If you ever need to delete a contact from your address book in AOL Mail, it’s very easy to do. You can do it from two different places: your address book list view, or the detailed contact page for the specific person you want to delete.
For example, if you are looking at your entire AOL address book, you can select one or multiple contacts to delete from this list view. All you have to do is mark the check box next to the contact or contacts you don’t want in your address book anymore, and then click on the little trash can icon at the top of the screen to delete them.
You can also click on a contact to view their detail page, and use the same trash can icon to delete them from there.
How to add contacts in AIM chat
Update: As of December, 2017, AOL is finally calling AIM toast. Officially. For good. But it was nice while it lasted!
Adding a new contact in AIM instant messenger is very easy and quite similar to other instant messenger programs you might have used.
First, log in to AIM so that you can see the main screen with your buddy list.
From there, you should see a blue bar near the top of the buddy list that says “CONTACTS”. To the right of that bar, there is a “+” sign. Click on this plus sign.
This will open up a small dropdown menu. Click on the first option, “Add AIM Contact”.
Now, you should see a small pop-up window appear where you can enter the contact information for your new buddy. You can use their screen name, email address or mobile phone number, so long as it is something they have associated with their AIM account.
When you enter this information, AIM will search its database of users to find the person you are looking for. As an example, I’ve gone and entered the screen name I used for AIM back in the day (for an account of that adventure, check out our introduction post here).
Once I see my name appear as the new contact that will be added, I can go ahead and click on the “Add” button.
Finally, you will get a confirmation pop-up that the new contact has been added to your AIM messenger buddy list.
How to delete contacts from AIM buddy list
Deleting a contact from AIM messenger is even easier than adding one! If you are logged in to AIM and looking at your buddy list, deleting a contact can be done in just two clicks.
First, locate the contact in your AIM buddy list. Their name will be listed under whatever group they belong to in your list (Buddies, Family, Co-Workers, etc.) if they are currently online. If not, it will be under the heading “Offline”.
Now, move your mouse cursor over their name. You should see a small “X” appear to the right. Click on it to delete the contact.
You will get a pop-up asking you to confirm that you really want to delete this person. If you are sure, click “Yes”. The contact should no longer appear in your buddy list.
Now, you know how to easily manage your contacts in AOL Mail and AIM chat! In order to manage your email effectively, make sure you check out our next post on saving important messages in AOL Mail.
Now that you have created your new AOL email account or AIM messenger account, you will need to know how to access your mail, contacts, calendar, instant messages and everything else if you aren’t on your home computer where you are set to be signed in automatically (more on that later). And when you do use some other computer to sign in to your AOL Mail, you will also need to be sure you are able to log out when you are finished so that no unauthorized users can see your private mail.
If you haven’t set up your AOL Mail yet, check out our step by step tutorial on how to register for AOL/AIM Mail. Otherwise, keep reading to learn the easiest ways to log in and out of your AOL account from any computer.
How to sign in to AOL Mail
If you want to get to your AOL inbox to check your email or send a message, or simply access your personalized portal, the first step is simple and intuitive. Just open up any internet browser, and go to www.aol.com.
Now, look at the upper right-hand corner of the screen. If you are still signed in from before, you will see your name or user ID there. Otherwise, it may not be immediately clear where you have to go in order to log in to AOL Mail. In that same upper-right corner, you should see an envelope-shaped “mail” icon. Click on this icon to go to the AOL sign in page.
Once you are on the login screen, the rest of the process is straightforward and probably what you are expecting. Simply type your AOL email address or username into the first field, and then enter your account password into the second field. Remember that this is the password you chose when you created your account, and it is case-sensitive, which means that uppercase and lowercase letters are considered separate characters.
When you are sure you have typed in your email and password correctly, click on the blue “Sign in” button.
Note: If you are using your personal, private computer and want to stay logged in to AOL so that you don’t have to sign in every time you want to check your email, you can check the box next to “Remember Me”. This way, you won’t be automatically signed out when you close your browser window or turn off your computer.
This is NOT recommended for shared computers, because it will give other users easy access to your email and other account features.
In just a few seconds, depending on your internet speed, you will be taken to your personalized AOL account portal, which looks just like the normal home page but with a few subtle differences. For example, you’ll see your username in the upper right-hand corner, along with local weather. Meanwhile, on the left side of the screen, you’ll see a new navigation bar that will lead you to your AOL inbox and other email folders, as well as your contact list, calendar, etc.
How to sign out of AOL Mail
After you have done everything you need to do in your AOL account, like checking email, it’s a good idea to sign out in order to protect your privacy.
When you are using your own private computer, this isn’t necessary. But if you are using a shared PC, and especially if you are using a public computer (like at the library, for example), then knowing how to sign out of AOL Mail is extremely important.
To do this, go over to the upper right-hand corner of your AOL account portal again, where you see your username. Right below your name is an option that says “Sign Out”. All you have to do is click on it.
You might see this little waiting/loading screen while AOL works to log you out of your email and account. Just wait a few seconds, and you’ll be redirected to another page that confirms you were successfully signed out of AOL.
How to sign in to AIM messenger
If you have an AOL Mail account, you automatically have access to AIM instant messenger as well. There is a way to get to this feature from inside your email (we’ll talk about that in another post), but you can also go there directly, without having to log into your email first.
On the other hand, if you are one of the lucky few and were able to recover an old AIM screenname, your AIM account is not attached to an AOL Mail inbox. This means that you cannot access your instant messenger through the regular mail portal the way newly created accounts can. Instead, you’ll have to follow the steps provided in this section.
First, open your internet browser and go to www.aim.com.
You will see the AIM home page, which is also the login screen, unlike the AOL Mail portal. I’m sure you can figure out what you need to do from here, but just so that we’re all on the same page: type your AIM screenname (which is the same as your AOL email address, if you have one) and your account password into their respective boxes. Make sure everything is typed correctly, and remember that the password is case-sensitive.
When everything is entered, click “Sign In”.
In no time, you’ll see your AIM main page, with your buddy list and a place to enter the email of the person you want to start chatting with.
How to sign out of AIM messenger
Once you have finished chatting, it’s a good idea to log out of AIM before you leave the computer so that no one else can see your private messages. When using your private, personal PC, you don’t necessarily need to do this, but it should always be done on a computer that multiple people have access to.
When you are ready to sign out of AIM chat, simply go to the upper left-hand corner of the screen. You will see your name, or possibly a “display name” that you have chosen, and next to your name there is a small arrow that will open up a menu of options. Click on the arrow.
In the drop-down menu that unfolds, the very last option says “Sign Out”. Click on this to be logged out of AIM messenger.
Just like when logging out of AOL Mail, you may get a loading screen while the sign-out process is finished, but it should only take a few seconds.
And there you have it! Knowing how to sign in and sign out of AOL email and AIM messenger is one of the most basic steps for using your account, and also one of the simplest things you can do to keep it secure.
To get started using your email service on AOL, make sure you read our next tutorial on sending messages and attachments using AOL Mail!
In case you weren’t aware, AOL mail is alive and well, and the AIM messenger you loved back in the early 2000s is still kicking, too. We talked about this briefly in our previous post, with some information about what the new AOL Mail can do and how you might be able to recover an old AIM screen name you haven’t used in a decade. But today, we’re going to go over how to open a new AOL Mail account or AIM account, step by step.
Just one quick note before we get started to save you some confusion. If you, like me, were able to recover an old AIM screen name, you might be wondering if this will automatically grant you access to a new AOL Mail inbox. The answer, sadly, is no. You can still use it from aim.com, but if you try to use it to sign in to the “Free Email” on aol.com, the website just gets confused and spits you back and forth between the portal home and the sign-in page.
So, if you resurrected an old AIM username but also want to use email, you’re going to have to create a new AOL Mail account. To do that, just follow the steps in this post.
Luckily, anyone who creates a new AOL Mail account can automatically use that same username in AIM, with no extra registration forms to go through.
How to create a new AOL Mail account
The process of opening an AOL Mail account is simple, but you will need to have a mobile phone number that can receive SMS text messages, as well as an alternate email address before you start.
First, go to the homepage at aol.com. You’ll see a web portal that looks a lot like Yahoo, with news headlines, weather, etc. In the upper right-hand corner, there is an icon that looks like a grid or a set of small tiles. Click on this icon to open a menu with different tools and services offered by AOL.
When the menu unfolds, one of the top options says “Free Email”. If you aren’t signed in, clicking on this will take you to the AOL/AIM registration page. Notice that AIM Messenger is also included in this menu.
On the sign up page, all you need to do is fill in your personal information one field at a time, starting with your first and last name.
In the second field, you will have to pick a username to go with your AOL account. This will be your AOL Mail email address, and also your screen name if you use AIM instant messenger. The registration form will probably offer you some suggested usernames based on your first and last name.
I went ahead and chose the first suggestion they made for me. You are welcome to come up with something completely different, though, as long as no one else is using it. If the name is available, you will see a green checkmark indicating that everything is OK.
Continue by choosing a password to secure your account, which has to be 8-16 characters. Some hints for make strong passwords that are hard to guess or hack are given off to the side.
Fill in the rest of the required information, and pay special attention when you enter your mobile number and your alternate email address. It’s very important that both of these are typed correctly, because they will be used to verify your account and also to help you recover your password if you ever lose it.
After all of your data has been entered and you click the “Submit” button, you will be sent a text message to the mobile number you provided. If the SMS fails to send for some reason, you’ll get an error and will have to enter a new phone number.
And then… tadaa! Your new AOL Mail account is all set up and ready to go. You’ll see a screen with all your vital information, which you should memorize or store someplace safe.
Getting into your new AOL inbox
Once you click the “OK” button at the bottom of the thank you screen, you’ll be directed back to the home page. If you look closely, there is now an envelope icon with a red button indicating there is an unread message. In other words, “You’ve Got Mail!” Click on the mail icon to go to your new AOL inbox.
Here you are! Click on the “Get Started” button. What you see in the background is the AOL Mail portal.
In your portal, you will see a notification up top saying you have “1 New Message”. Likewise, in the left side bar, there is a red button with the number “1” next to “Inbox”. Click on “Inbox” to check your email and see what the message is.
Unsurprisingly, the first email you have received in your newly created AOL account is from the AOL Mail Team. You can click on the message to read it if you want, but it’s just a generic welcome email.
Using AIM chat from AOL Mail
It might feel a little hard to navigate around your inbox at first. Personally, I instinctively moved my mouse over to the upper right-hand corner of the screen, looking for that tile icon that we clicked on the home page, trying to find out how to get to AIM chat from my AOL Mail.
The thing is, we aren’t on the home page anymore, we’re in our AOL inbox, and things are a little different in here. It turns out, you can send instant messages from your AOL Mail through AIM by going all the way to the bottom of the left side bar to find it. Down there, there is an icon that looks like an “a”, which is the logo for the new AIM. Clicking on this will open up a small message window right in your inbox so you can send a quick IM to one of your contacts.
If you want to use the full messenger, that’s no problem at all. First, go to aim.com. You’ll see a welcome screen and it might look like you’re going to have to sign up all over again, but don’t worry! You don’t. Just click through a couple of “OK”s, and you’ll be up and running before you know it.
Double check that your name and email address are correct (it should show the alternate email you entered when you signed up for AOL Mail). If everything is right, click “Looks good!”
After that, you’ll just have to click through a screen asking if you want AIM to search your contacts in other places (like Gmail) to find buddies for you. You can skip this. Finally, there is a screen designed to help show you where everything is.
Just seconds later, you’ll be looking at the new AIM chat!
Lastly, for anyone who recovered their old AIM screen name (that isn’t attached to AOL Mail), this is how you will access the chat as well, through aim.com. You will be able to use this same full messenger; the only difference is you don’t have an email address through AOL unless you create a new account according to the instructions given in this post.
And that just about covers how to open an AOL Mail or AIM chat account. If you need more information on what this service has to offer, you can read our previous post, All About the New AOL Mail. And make sure you don’t miss our next post for a detailed, step by step tutorial on how to sign in and out of AOL and AIM.Save
80s and 90s kids, or anyone who was over the age of 13 in the year 2006 or so, hold on to your hats, because I have some potentially mind-blowing news for you. “You’ve got mail!” And your Buddy List from yesteryear may very well still exist. AOL Mail and AIM Chat are alive and well, but with a completely new concept that puts it on the same level as today’s most popular online and mobile platforms, like Gmail and Yahoo.
Now, maybe it’s just me because I live under a rock, but I had resigned myself to the fact that the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) from my teenage years had died and vanished into the cyber ether. But, it turns out that AOL still exists, along with AOL Mail and AIM chat. Fortunately, we have all moved past the days of using AOL to connect to the internet via dialup (for those of you who remember what that was).
So, in case you, like me, had filed AOL and AIM Mail away as a relic of the past, this article will serve as an introduction to the “New AOL Mail”. We’ll talk about the new AOL portal, the free services and features from AOL, what the new AOL Mail can do, how to resurrect AIM chat, and more.
New AOL Mail portal
The new AOL Mail is part of an entire online portal, much like the Yahoo! portal. As a matter of fact, it is now owned by the same company as Yahoo, along with Verizon Wireless and several other brands. If you are a Yahoo user or at least familiar with their homepage and services, aol.com is very similar these days. Here’s a snap of a portion of the new portal as it appeared today:
As you can see, there are some icons in the left toolbar which serve as shortcuts to the most important tools and services, including AOL Mail, Search, Sign In or Register, News, etc. At the top of the page, there is a search bar that allows you to search the internet using AOL’s search engine.
There is also a page called “AOL MyBenefits” which shows you different features and services available to you through your AOL account. The benefits you see here when you are signed in to your account may vary depending on if you have a paid plan or not.
Finally, there is a “Discover AOL” section, which displays all the products and services offered. You can filter by the type of product or service, including the ability to only display free options.
Features of the new AIM and AOL Mail
Today’s incarnation of AOL Mail and AIM are comparable to any other modern email and chat services. AOL has integrated AIM chat into its mail interface, so you can easily send instant messages right from your email and keep everything organized in one place.
There are also mobile apps for AOL Mail and AIM, which allows you to stay in touch with everyone without having to pay for text messages. If you use Wi-Fi instead of your mobile data plan, the messages you send through the AIM mobile app are almost always free.
Sign in for AOL Mail and AIM
If you already have an AOL account, you can sign into it by simply going to aim.com. Alternatively, you can go to the aol.com home page and try to access your AOL Mail there, which will redirect you to a sign in page if you aren’t already logged in. We’ll go over the process of how to log in and out of your AOL EMail or AIM account in detail in a separate tutorial.
Creating a new AOL Mail or AIM account
If you don’t have an AOL email yet, creating a new AOL Mail or AIM account (they function the same way, so if you create one, it does double duty) is very easy. If you go to the same web address indicated in the last section, aim.com, you’ll see that at the bottom of the sign in form there is a link that says “Get an AIM account”.
Another alternative, just like with login options, is to try to access AOL Mail from the aol.com homepage. The sign in form that you will be taken to will have a link that says “Get a Free Username”.
In both cases, you’ll be taken to a registration form that looks something like the image below. If you need a little extra help with the sign up process, we’ll walk through it step by step in another tutorial.
One important note about the new AOL Mail: If you create an email account with AOL, it has an expiration date. Meaning, if you don’t use your account for 90 days, it could be deactivated. Furthermore, if your account is inactive for 180 days, your entire account and everything attached to it could be deleted. That includes shared media, messages, everything associated with your AOL Mail screenname or email address.
Recovering an old AIM screenname for the new AOL Mail
Now, before you go creating a new AIM account, it might be interesting to take a moment and mentally stroll down memory lane. Did you use AOL Mail or AIM instant messenger in the past? Most of us in the United States who are of a certain age did. And I suspect that most of us assumed that our old screennames died along with AIM, purged from some remote server, never to be seen again.
Well, it turns out that this isn’t necessarily true. If you have the proverbial memory of an elephant, as I apparently do (or else very poor password security practices), you might be able to recover your AIM username from ancient history. It’s worth a try, if you’re interested in the cyber archeological dig site of your life from before smartphones were a thing.
I will admit, I fully expected this to not work, especially after learning that new AOL Mail accounts are automatically deleted after 180 days of inactivity. But in the interest of science, and despite having closer to 3,300 days of inactivity on AIM, I gave it a try.
The information was still valid, so I clicked on “Looks good!” (And yes, that is the dorky chat icon I chose as a teenager. Don’t judge.)
It then took me to a screen where I had the option to import contacts from Google Chat. I opted to skip this step by clicking on “Next” without clicking on “Connect to add Google Chat”.
Finally, the new AIM gave me a quick snapshot of the new interface, which has, of course, been updated to fit in better with the expectations of today’s internet users. In my eagerness, I skimmed over this a bit too quickly to really take it all in, but we’ll talk about everything in depth in a future article.
And then, lo and behold, I was in the new AIM. The new AIM, but with my old buddy list, still labeled “My Buds”, the name I gave it because I didn’t have any reason to narrow it down by groups. Unsurprisingly, all my buddies from 2007 and prior were offline.
This happened to work for me; your mileage may vary. I can’t promise that your decade-old AIM account is still preserved in some dusty corner of an AOL server, even if you can remember the password. But even if it doesn’t work for you, it is a fun experiment. If all your recovery efforts are in vain, you can simply create a new account on AOL Mail and use it for AIM.
That’s it for our very general introduction to the new AOL Mail and AIM chat. We will go into more detail about the most important features of this platform in future posts. Make sure you check out our next tutorial on how to create a new AOL Mail account if you don’t have one already!