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.
We have already talked about how you can keep your AOL mailbox organized by creating folders and moving emails into them. Today, we’re going to look at one folder in particular, which can be used to save important messages in AOL Mail. The folder is called “Saved Mail”, and it comes by default with your email account (in other words, you don’t have to create it yourself).
So, whether you don’t have any need to create more specific folders or you simply have some important messages that you want to save but don’t quite fit in any other folder, this “Saved Mail” option may be what you need.
In the navigation sidebar on the left side of the screen is where you can find the “Saved Mail” folder. It is the first option under the “Folders” heading in this menu. This is what we will be working with throughout the course of this tutorial.
If you have not moved any messages to “Saved Mail” before, then when you click on the folder name, this is what you will see:
There are two easy ways to save important messages in AOL Mail, and we’ll go over both of them step by step in this post. The first is from an open email that you are reading, and the second is from your inbox’s main view.
How to save an open message in AOL Mail
Let’s say that you have opened up an email you received in AOL, and once you read it, you realize that it is a message that you would like to save for future reference. Now, if you already have a personal folder that you have created where this email could go, that is always an option. If not, you can simply move it to “Saved Mail” for easy access later.
To do this, with the important email open in read-view, find the button near the top of the screen that says “More” with a small downward arrow. This button opens up a menu of additional actions you can perform on this message.
After clicking on “More”, scroll down in the options menu to the “Move to:” section. Here, click on “Saved Mail”. This will move the open email from your AOL inbox into the Saved Mail folder.
Once moved, you will be automatically taken back to your inbox. A notification will pop up letting you know that the message was successfully moved, with the option to quickly undo this action. As you can see, the message that I moved no longer appears in my list of emails there.
However, if you return to the “Saved Mail” folder as we did in the introduction, you will find that the email is now there instead.
How to save important messages from your AOL Mail inbox
Sometimes, you can tell an email is important and needs to be saved even before you open it. In AOL Mail, you do not need to have a message open in order to move it to another folder, and this includes the “Saved Mail” folder. In fact, the steps are almost exactly the same as in the previous section.
Like before, you will use the “More Actions” button to move the email. The difference here is that you must first select the message you wish to save by marking the checkbox next to it. (You can also move multiple messages at once this way by checking all of their boxes). Once your desired message is selected, click on the “More” button at the top of the screen.
Doing this will open a dropdown menu of actions you can take. Scroll down until you reach the “Saved Mail” option under the heading “Move to:”. Click on this to move the selected message or messages from your AOL Mail inbox into the Saved Mail folder.
The message you moved will now disappear from your inbox, and you should see a small notification telling you which folder it was moved to, with the option to undo.
You can access the saved message at any time now by clicking on “Saved Mail” in the left navigation menu.
Saving important messages in AOL Mail helps you keep track of everything, but what about unwanted messages? Make sure you read our next post on how to mark emails as spam and delete them in AOL.
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!
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!