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.