While the new AOL web portal has a lot to offer, most people sign up so that they can use the free email service, AOL Mail. Today, we’re going to give you a step by step tutorial on some of the most basic functions of your new email account: sending an email, replying to an email, and sending messages with file attachments, pictures and videos.
For this post, we’re going to assume you have already signed up for an AOL Mail email account. If you don’t have one yet, we explain exactly what you need to do in our post on how to register for AOL Mail.
To get started, make sure you are connected to the internet, go to the AOL home page at www.aol.com, and sign into your account if you aren’t already. Click here for a refresher on how to log in to AOL Mail.
The screen you see when you are logged in should look something like this:
This is where we will start from for today’s tutorials.
How to compose and send an email in AOL Mail
Let’s say you just need to write a quick email to one of your contacts. This is something you can do right from the main screen of your AOL Mail portal.
Possibly one of the weirdest things about AOL email compared to others is that it doesn’t immediately show you your inbox when you log in. This can make it seem like you aren’t really in your mail, even though it clearly says “AOL Mail” in the corner.
But this doesn’t matter if you are wanting to send a new email to someone (as opposed to replying to a message in your inbox, which we’ll talk about in a minute). Simply go to the upper left-hand corner of the screen, and you’ll see a big blue “Compose” button. Click on it to start writing an email from scratch.
You’ll be taken to a new screen where you can compose your message. At this point, the process is more or less the same as any other email service you may have used, like Yahoo or Gmail. If you aren’t sure what any of the icons in the email editor mean, you can move your mouse cursor over them and a label will pop up, explaining each button.
Now, it’s time to write your email. Usually, the first thing people do is enter the recipient’s email address in the “To:” field, which is the top line. You can send the same message to more than one person at a time, too; all you have to do is separate them with commas, just like your teacher taught you to do when writing a list of multiple items.
The line below “To:” is the “Subject” field. It’s not necessary to have a subject for your email in AOL Mail, but it is helpful for the person you are sending it to.
Once you have entered the recipients for your message and typed in the subject line, you can start composing the body of the email.
When your email is written and you are ready to send it off, simply go up near the top of the editor window and click on the big blue “SEND” button. As you are clicking, you may see one of those handy labels I mentioned earlier explaining what the button does. In this case, it says “Send Message” followed by a set of parentheses containing “Ctrl + enter”. This last part is something called a hotkey, for people who prefer to use keyboard commands instead of clicking with a mouse.
What this means is that, if you hold down the Ctrl key and the Enter/Return key simultaneously, this does the same thing as clicking the “SEND” button, and your email will be sent to the recipients you have indicated.
Once you click that button (or hit that hotkey combination), your email will be sent, and there is no turning back. We recommend giving the message a quick check before sending, just in case you may have made a typo or said something you’ll regret later 😉
How to reply to a message in AOL Mail
Sometimes, you don’t want to write a brand new email, but rather reply to a message you received so that the conversation stays organized in one thread of emails. That is what we’re going to take a look at in this section.
As I said earlier, AOL email may feel a bit odd to people who are used to using something like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, where your main page is your inbox as soon as you log in to the mail account. Instead of doing this, AOL Mail gives you a personalized portal with news stories and other information, similar to the home page. All of your email navigation will be done through the menu on the left side of the screen.
One of the first options in this menu is the “Inbox”, and it will have an alert next to it indicating how many new, unread emails you have waiting to be checked. To get started replying to an email you have received in AOL Mail, we first have to get to that message, which means we need to access our inbox. Click on “Inbox” to display all the email you have received.
Now things will start to look more familiar. Inside your AOL inbox, you’ll see any emails that have been sent to you (assuming you haven’t moved or deleted any), both read and unread. Locate the message that you want to reply to, and click on it in the list.
This will open the email so that you can read it and take a variety of actions on it, such as sending a reply. Just like in the “Compose” screen from the previous section, there are several icons with different functions. If you aren’t sure what one of them does, you can move your cursor over it to see its label.
To reply to the email that you have open in front of you, click on the “Reply” icon, which is the left-most button and looks like a single arrow pointing backwards (as in, back to the sender).
What will happen now is an email editor screen will open, just like the one that is used to “Compose” a new email. The difference is that the original message you received is copied in the bottom of the reply you are going to send (although you can delete this if you prefer), and the “To:” and “Subject:” fields are pre-filled with the information from the original email.
The blank space in the body above the line that says “- – – Original Message – – -” is where you will type the message you want to send as your reply.
When you are finished writing your message, simply send it just like we did before by clicking the big blue “SEND” button.
How to send a file attachment in AOL email
Your free AOL Mail account allows you to attach many different types of files to the emails you send. The size limit is 25 MB, but anything smaller than that should be able to be attached to your message without a problem.
Let’s say you want to attach a text file, like a PDF or a Word document. While you are in the email editor, find the icon that looks like a little paperclip in the top menu. As you move your mouse over it, you will see that this is the button you should click in order to “Choose files to attach”.
Clicking this will open up a file browser on your computer. From there, you will have to go to whatever folder you have the desired file saved in (e.g. Desktop, My Documents, etc.). Once you locate the file you wish to attach, click on it, and then click “Open” in the file explorer window.
You will know that you did everything right when you see a little blue box above the body of the email, containing the file name and size of the attachment.
You can attach the file at any point in your email writing process. Some people save it for the end, while others like to attach it before they start writing anything so that they don’t forget it. Whatever your preference is, when you have the message written and all of your desired attachments are ready, simply send the email and all of its attachments as usual by clicking the big blue “SEND” button.
How to send a picture file in AOL Mail
There are two options for adding images to an email you send through your AOL email account. The first is to follow the steps given in the previous section, and just select your desired picture file from the file explorer on your computer instead of a Word doc, for example. Those steps will work for just about any type of file, including pictures, as long as the attachment size stays under 25 MB.
If you add the picture as a normal file attachment, that is how it will arrive to your recipient: as a normal file attachment. They will have to download it from their email or preview the file, depending on what email service they use, in order to see the picture.
However, there is another way to attach images to your messages in AOL Mail so that they appear in the body of the email along with the text you write. This is called an in-line picture, because it is in line with the text.
To add an in-line picture file, click on the icon that looks like a simple painting, to the right of the paperclip icon. As your cursor touches it, you will see that this is the button you should use to “Insert pictures into your mail”. Click on this icon.
Just like with a regular file attachment, this will open up a file browser or explorer on your computer, where you will have to locate the picture that you want to insert. Navigate to the folder where you have saved it (e.g. My Pictures, Desktop, etc.), click to select, and then choose “Open” in the file explorer window.
The image you chose will be inserted in the email. You can click and drag it to move it somewhere else in the message if you like. When you move your cursor over the picture, you will see a gear icon and an “X” button. The gear, which is the usual symbol for “Settings” or “Options”, will let you change the picture size, alignment, and text wrapping. As you might have guessed, the “X” button will remove the image from the message.
As before, when you have added all the pictures you want and finished composing your message, send it by clicking on the big blue “SEND” button.
How to send a video in AOL Mail
There are two easy ways to send videos in your AOL email that will suit most people’s purposes. Which way should you use? That depends on where the video is coming from: a folder somewhere on your computer, or a website like YouTube.
If you have the video file saved to your computer, it can be attached just like any other file by following the same steps described in the previous sections, as long as it is smaller than 25 MB. Video files can be very large, so there is always a chance that the video you want to attach exceeds the limit (in which case you might want to share through a cloud storage service, like Google Drive).
On the other hand, many times we find a funny or interesting video online, and we just have to share it with one of our friends, family members or other contacts. In this case, the easiest thing to do is to copy the URL of the website where you saw the video, and paste it into the body of your email. This way, the recipient can link directly to the same website and watch the video online themselves.
Getting a video to play inside the email itself (using an embed link, for example) is not supported in AOL Mail as of this writing. But that is beyond the scope of most users’ needs anyway; you can simply attach video files you have saved to your computer, or paste a link to videos you find on the internet.
As with every other case, when you have everything good to go in your message, including file attachments or links to videos, simply click the “SEND” button to send it on its way to the recipients you have listed.
Now, you are ready to use the basic functions of your AOL Mail account by checking your inbox, sending new emails, replying to messages you have received, and attaching files, pictures and videos. The more you use your email, the easier things will get, and the more stuff will accumulate in your inbox. Make sure you read our next post on how to create a folder in AOL Mail so that you can keep things nice and organized.