Pros / This free email provider attaches files to outgoing messages faster than other services we reviewed.
Cons / You can’t import social media contacts or create email aliases.
Verdict / AOL Mail is a good contender for a free email service, with a simple account interface and a mobile app for continual access to your inbox.
America Online, or AOL, has been around for a long time and still delivers on free email addresses, as well as its iconic “You’ve Got Mail!” alert when you have unread messages in your inbox. We discovered that it doesn’t have any many tools and functions as the best free email services we tested, but the ones it does have are easy to use.
For example, you can’t directly import social media contacts into your address folder. You also can’t create alias accounts to help protect your identity. There’s also no message translator.
But what AOL Mail does, it does well. It has unlimited inbox storage, so won’t every have to delete messages to make room for more. You can also create custom folders inside your inbox to organize and store your messages.
All the tools for writing and sending messages are clearly displayed and easy to find. You can upload multiple files at once as attachments, though in our tests we did get a notice when we reached the 25MB attachment limit. Regardless of how many or how big the files were, AOL uploaded them faster than any other free email provider we tested. While we couldn’t preview attachments once they were added to a message, we could see a thumbnail of attachments on email that was sent to use. This is the more important part of the attachment previewing function since it means you don’t have to download files you may not want to keep, and is a nice security feature, too.
All messages between you and a single sender are grouped together in a conversation view. This lets you read each message in chronological order without having to and open each individual message to get the whole story.
There’s also an auto response feature You can set up a message that will be sent out as a reply to anyone who sends you a message during a certain timeframe. This is a great feature if you are ever out of town and need to let people know you can’t answer them right away.
We were surprised that messages we were working on were not automatically saved as a draft. Saving the draft is a manual process. All the other free email services we tested, including Yahoo Mail, automatically saved message drafts until they were either sent or deleted.
AOL Mail has both a trash and a spam folder. You have to enable the spam filters and manually enter any email address that you want redirect to the spam folders. AOL Mail does automatically redirect phishing schemes to your trash folder.
One convenient tool AOL includes with its free email service is a task calendar. You can add email invites to your calendar and set up an alert to remind you of the event. You can also set you email reminders of meetings or other events manually in the calendar.
Another tool included with your AOL Mail account is a live chat feature that you can use to instantly connect with others also using the same chat program.
We also tested the AOL Mail mobile app. On that platform, AOL still includes inbox ads and you can only attach one file at a time, but overall it isn’t too difficult to figure out. We were particularly impressed that the AOL Mail app opened a small viewing window inside the message creator that let us select and attach files without being redirected to another screen entirely. This isn’t a very common feature among free email service apps.
- Max Attachment Size
- Average Upload Time
AOL Mail lacks a few features other free email providers include, such as the ability to create alias accounts and import social media contacts. But the tools that are included, like spam filters, auto reply messages and conversation view, are easy to use on both the website account and the mobile app.