Security Tips for AOL Mail

If you are using your AOL Mail account for anything private, personal or sensitive, then it is very important to take steps to keep it secure. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unsavory individuals out there who would love to break into your email account for nefarious purposes. The good news is, there are a number of things you can do to prevent that from happening.

In this post, we’ll go over some of the most powerful security tips for your AOL Mail account. First, we’ll talk about how to make sure your password is actually keeping your account safe, including how to change your AOL password in case you think you have been hacked. We’ll also show you how to set up two-step verification in AOL, view your account activity to see if there have been any suspicious logins, and be smart about how you use your computer to make you less prone to attack.

AOL Mail password tips

The first step to securing your AOL email is simply choosing a strong password. It should be something easy for you to remember (so that you don’t have to write it down—not very secure) but hard for other people to guess. You also need to make it hard for hacking software to crack, and the way to foil these programs is to use long, complex passwords with a variety of character types. A combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers and special characters can mean the difference between a password hacking program cracking it in a few minutes and not being able to figure it out after a hundred years!

It is also an internet “best practice” to change your password periodically just in case someone manages to get their hands on it. And, obviously, if you suspect that your AOL Mail has been hacked, you need to log in and change to a new password immediately.

Below is a quick tutorial on how to change your password in AOL Mail. We’ll assume you already know how to sign in to your account and are looking at your inbox.

First, go to the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Under your AOL username, there is a link called “Options” with a dropdown menu. Click to open the menu, and choose the first item in the list, “Account Info”.

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This will take you to your AOL account settings page. At the top, you will see your basic profile information: name, email, gender, date of birth, and zip code. Below that is the “Account Security” section.

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The first line in the Account Security section is “Password”. It won’t show what your password is (that would be a great way to put your account at the mercy of anyone looking over your shoulder), just the date it was last changed. To the right is a link to “Change Password…”

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When you click on the Change Password option, you just have to follow the on-screen directions. First, you will have to enter your current password and possibly answer your security question. This is to protect your AOL Mail account from random people sneaking in and changing your password without your knowledge. Finally, when prompted, type in your new (strong!) AOL password.

Setting up two-step verification in AOL

If you are like most people, you practically always have your mobile phone within arm’s reach. For people who wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without their smartphone, two-step verification (also called two-factor authentication) is a fantastic way to add an extra layer of security to your AOL account.

Two-step verification makes it much harder for unauthorized people to get into your email account because they not only have to enter the correct password, they also have to enter a one-time code that is sent via text message to your phone number. So, unless that person can figure out your password AND has unrestricted access to your phone, they won’t be able to hack into your AOL account.

To set up two-step verification in AOL, go back into your Account Settings just like we did in the section above. Right under the link to change your password, there is a link to “Set up” 2-step verification.

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Just like with changing your password, it’s important to keep random people from setting up two-step verification on your AOL Mail account behind your back. For that reason, you will probably have to reenter your password and answer your security question before you can set up this security feature.

Next, you need to enter your mobile phone number along with the appropriate country code. AOL will send a text message to that number for verification, or they can call you if you prefer. Simply type in the phone number and click either “Text” or “Call”, depending on how you want to receive the verification.

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After you get the text message or phone call, just follow the on-screen instructions to finish the setup process.

Updating your account recovery information

While you are in your account settings, it’s a good idea to check your account recovery information and make sure it is current. You want to have a backup email address and a mobile phone number here—these will be used to verify your identity if you ever forget your password or get locked out of your AOL Mail somehow.

The third item in “Account Recovery Information” is your security question. This should be something that only you know the answer to, but also something that you are sure you won’t forget, because you will need to answer this question to prove that you are you whenever you go to make changes to your account.

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Suspicious activity on your AOL account

If you think something fishy might be going on with your AOL Mail, you can log in and view account activity to see if anything looks suspicious.

Getting to this point is a bit confusing, because it is not in your “Account Settings” with the other security tools. Rather, it is in “My Account”, which is outside of AOL Mail because it applies to all AOL services. You can find it here: https://myservices.aol.com/home

In the middle “Account Options” column, you can click to “View My Account Activity” (the last item in the list of options).

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If you, like me, have no activity for any of the things they keep track of here, you’ll see something like the image below. Otherwise, there will be a list of changes that have been made to your AOL account.

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Securing your account and your computer

You can go a long way towards keeping your AOL account secure by being smart about the way you use your personal computer and other computers.

In this digital age, it is essential to have a good antivirus program on your computer. Scan your PC regularly to prevent viruses and malware from compromising the security of your computer and all the accounts you access from it.

When using computers other than your personal one, be careful to log out of any account you sign into on that PC. Sometimes, you will be logged out automatically when you close the browser window, but the safest bet is to sign out of your AOL Mail account before stepping away from that computer. Otherwise, the next person to use it might be able to access your private information.

How to Save Important Messages in AOL Mail

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.

How to Save Important Messages

For this tutorial on saving important messages in AOL Mail, we will assume you have already created an AOL account and that you know how to sign in to AOL Mail. We’ll start from the inbox view, as in the image below:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

How to Add and Delete Contacts in AOL Mail and AIM

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This will open up a small dropdown menu. Click on the first option, “Add AIM Contact”.

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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.

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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.

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Finally, you will get a confirmation pop-up that the new contact has been added to your AIM messenger buddy list.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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