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How AOL Mail Works

        Tech | Internet Basics

Getting Started
AOL Mail lets users to preview messages in a double-paned view, as well as easily access their buddy or to-do lists.
AOL Mail lets users to preview messages in a double-paned view, as well as easily access their buddy or to-do lists.
Image courtesy of AOL

To get started with an AOL Mail account, go to mail.aol.com and click on the button that says "Get FREE AOL Mail." You'll then be asked to choose an e-mail address (example: youraddress@aol.com) and password for your account. If you already have an AIM screen name, you can use your existing screen name and password to log into AIM Mail. You'll automatically be given an AIM Mail address based on your screen name (example: yourscreenname@aim.com).

When you first log into AOL Mail, the main part of the screen is taken up with scrolling headlines from AOL News. All of the actual e-mail functions are located on the left side of the screen.

There you'll see a list of icons and folders, the first being Inbox. Your inbox is where all of your received e-mails are stored. Click on the inbox icon and you'll be taken to the inbox view, a chronological list of received e-mails from newest to oldest.

To read an e-mail in the inbox, click on it, and it'll open. All of the basic actions for responding to and managing e-mail are located at the top of the window:

  • Reply lets you write a message back to the sender or to all recipients
  • Forward lets you forward the e-mail along to another party
  • The Action button is a pull-down menu with advanced organizational options like marking a message as new, flagging a message, moving it to other folders, printing it, et cetera
  • Delete sends the message to your Trash folder, also located on the left-hand side
  • Spam sends the message to your Spam folder and will help AOL Mail identify future spam

To write an e-mail, either hit "Reply" to an existing message or the "Compose" button at the screen's top left to create a new message. AOL Mail comes with a rich text formatting palette that allows you to change fonts, text and background color, text alignment and more. Those tools are located right above the large text box.

You can attach an image or any other file using the Attach File button. And you can spell check your message with the Spelling button at the top of the window. Click on misspelled words to see suggested corrections. When you're satisfied with your message, press the Send button at the top of the screen. If you're not ready, you can press the Save Draft button to save the message in your Drafts folder on the left.

Below the Trash folder are two icons for Contacts and Calendar. Contacts is the same as an address book in other e-mail programs. When you click on Contacts, a new window will open where you can add new contacts, fill in their e-mail addresses and other contact information, and organize them into lists.

AOL Mail features include a calendar so users can manage their schedules.
AOL Mail features include a calendar so users can manage their schedules.
Image courtesy of AOL

Click the Calendar button to open the integrated calendar application. Hit the New Event button to add an event, appointment or meeting to the calendar. You'll be asked to name the event, set the date and time, indicate whether it repeats (daily, weekly, et cetera), and set up a reminder alert. You can also add an event description and a location that automatically links to Mapquest.

Now let's look at some of the newer and more advanced features of AOL Mail.


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