While Yahoo Mail may have been an email tour-de-force in the mid 2000s, the service’s modern-day incarnation sees it drop down in our best free email services rankings. It still offers a lot of the solid email features that made it a robust email client over a decade ago, but a lack of innovation as time passes pushes an otherwise good enough client into obscurity. Its failure to evolve is a shame considering its strong foundations.
We liked the intuitive folder system and general design of the desktop email client, but we couldn't help but get annoyed at some of the basic features that are still missing like sub-folders and solid mobile compatibility. Add that to the stack of error codes and bugs that we encountered, and Yahoo Mail becomes hard to recommend when Outlook and Gmail are both out there offering a substantially better service,
Still, if you're nostalgic for the days when Yahoo Mail ruled the roost and you don't need any of these modern features, then you might just be alright with this throwback email service.
Yahoo Mail review: User interface and accessibility
Setting up a new Yahoo Mail account is a breeze. If you choose to adopt the address of yourself-at-yahoo.com, you’ll find yourself in your inbox in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a desktop or mobile browser or even the service’s Android or iOS app, creating a new account is a simple and clean process wherever you decide to sign up, granted you have a mobile number to sign up with.
If only that process was so easy for migrating accounts from other email services, an important client staple that seemed to exclusively work on a desktop browser. We tried migrating both a Gmail and Outlook account through multiple mobile browsers on an iPad Pro (2018) and OnePlus 6T only to be met with a statement declaring our email addresses had “no mailbox”. On desktop, this was a non-issue: desktop migration sees the service open a new window for the transfer process.
Once our multiple email addresses were migrated and synced – a process that can take numerous hours depending on the size of your inbox – Yahoo Mail displayed itself as a very user-friendly experience. In terms of accessibility, Yahoo offers numerous font sizes and types to help the visually impaired and a barebones level of control over how the service presents emails does at least over various sizes for the basic UI.
Finding all the tools you need is rarely an issue. If you’ve used a modern web-based email client, Yahoo Mail follows in the footsteps of most, if not all, modern platforms. The service incorporates a left-hand side bar with every email category you’ve come to expect – unread, sent, drafts, spam, etc – and a colorful compose button adorns the upper-right. When writing an email, everything from basic font sizes to email attachments are found in a clean-cut bar along the bottom.
Even with a fairly uncluttered UI, Yahoo Mail is more distracting than some. Ads litter every nook and cranny of an otherwise appealing look. We found ads in our inbox every page or so with more ads on our right-hand sidebar and video ads in our photos and documents section. Oftentimes, these ads were gambling-orientated, an unwelcome addition to anyone’s inbox.
Yahoo Mail review: Unique features
The Yahoo Mail client is one of versatility when it comes to its feature set, although many of its features are only half-baked. For example, organization is a clear focus of this client when compared to other email clients, but its implementation isn’t as in-depth as it could be.
Folders are an awesome aspect of Yahoo’s client; after creating a folder you can drag-and-drop emails into their respective groupings. Unfortunately, the ability to also create specific sub-folders is non-existent causing those who truly care about email organisation to simply create more folders. It quickly gets messy.
Thankfully, photos and documents that have been either sent or received are handily filed under their own respective sections. With Yahoo Mail, finding an old document or photo is effortless. Even more useful is the service’s often temperamental handling of travel emails. While it does effectively sort train and plane tickets into their own section, it also occasionally included the odd newsletter from entertainment services.
For attachments, Yahoo Mail also leaves a lot to be desired. While you can send files through your Dropbox or Google Drive account at a limit of 2GB, the service's built-in attachment feature is limited to a measly 25MB. Also, if your file is exactly 25MB, your email won’t send as the client won’t have enough space to send your few bytes worth of actual email.
Finally, there are also notebook and calendar features that looked intriguing but were unfortunately unusable. While they appeared to be rather well-designed aspects of the browser-based service, we were thrown an error code every time we attempted to save what we were doing.
Yahoo Mail review: Security
In terms of protecting accounts, Yahoo’s security features are far from ideal. While using a real phone number to create your account helps protect the company, Yahoo Mail doesn’t do a stellar job at protecting its users.
If you’re planning on exclusively using the mail client between a variety of devices, the Yahoo Account Key feature is a neat way of incorporating two-step verification, a feature the service does already provide if you delve deep enough. However, with the Yahoo Account Key feature, you can immediately receive a login code through the use of a mobile app.
While Yahoo’s efforts in crafting multiple secure login methods is admirable, the service slips up in neglecting the most basic feature: login warnings Unlike Gmail, signing in on Yahoo Mail from a new device or IP doesn’t trigger an automatic email to warn users that their account security has been breached.
As for what Yahoo does best, spam messages are gracefully handled, more-so than Google could ever hope to achieve. Spam messages and repetitive newsletters are usually pushed away into the always-to-be-ignored spam folder. While some may sneak through from time-to-time, we found Yahoo’s anti-spam to be a great way of keeping our inbox clean.
Should I use Yahoo Mail?
There’s nothing awful about Yahoo Mail that would truly ward off new arrivals from trying out a different service for email than those offered by Google or Microsoft, but we wouldn't recommend it.
Half-baked features, intrusive advertisements, and frequent incompatibility across platforms makes for unruly cross-platform use. If Yahoo manages to improve its inconsistencies then they’ll, once again, have a great email client on their hands. Unfortunately, as it stands, Yahoo’s offerings are far below what other free services are pushing out.