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We're Overwhelmed!

It's finally happened- This page is near the top in AOL's search engine. As a result, we are getting more questions than we can possibly answer.

We still invite your questions but please be aware we are only answering a small fraction of the AOL questions we receive.

Thank you for your understanding.

Having trouble with web mail? Need independent advice on leaving AOL? Wondering about your America Online broadband options?

AOL is a universe onto itself. Getting help from AOL is usually heavy in sales pitches.

Knowzy has no affiliation with AOL and gives you honest answers to your questions. Ask away!


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Additional AOL Support Resources

When we answer your AOL question, we take the time to research it and answer it accurately and in detail. Unfortunately, this prevents us from answering every question we receive.

If we're unable to answer your question, here are some other places to try:

Help Directly from AOL

  • By Phone (Paying Customers Only)
    1-800-827-6364 and say "Tech Support."
  • AOL Help Message Board
    Get help from other AOL members and, occasionally, an employee.
  • AOL Help
    Central location for instructions, articles, the AOL "Answer Wizard" and other helpful information and tools.
  • Yedda Community Help Center (AOL Mail Only)
    Not getting anywhere on the AOL Message Board? Want a second opinion? Ask AOL mail questions on Yedda.


AOL is my service provider. I also use Picasa for my pictures. When I send my pictures to friends, they always have to download them. Is there a way to send them directly. I know that when I receive pictures from Yahoo members and members they come through directly.


AOL web mail compose page. The 'Insert Picture' button is highlighted.
Step 1: Insert Pictures

AOL web mail message with photos inside the e-mail. 'My Computer' tab and 'Browse for Pictures' button are highlighted.
Step 2: Browse for Your Pictures

Update: This feature is "Under Maintenance" and scheduled to return at the beginning of next year. Read more below.

Excellent question. The trick is to "insert" pictures into your e-mails as opposed to "attaching" them. AOL, to my surprise, does a pretty good job of inlining photos in your messages.

I only have access to the web version of AOL. That is to say I don't have AOL the program. I can only log in at through Internet Explorer. If these screenshots or instructions don't resemble what you see in the AOL universe, I'll show you how to log the way I did at the end of this letter.

Here's the step-by-step for putting pictures directly in your e-mails:

  1. Compose a new e-mail
  2. Click the "Insert Pictures" button. This will bring up a new pane at the top of the window. (See screenshot #1)
  3. On the left, you'll see two tabs: "AOL Pictures" and "My Computer." Click My Computer (See screenshot #2)
  4. Click the "Browse for Pictures" button. Here you can browse your hard drive for the photos you wish to embed. Select a photo and it appears in your e-mail.
  5. If you move your mouse to the top left of the picture in your e-mail, you will see a little down arrow. Click it to bring up the "Picture Options" menu. Here you can select the size of the photo. It defaults to medium. The photos in the screenshot are the small size.
  6. Once you're done inserting your pictures, write the letter portion of your e-mail ("Hi Uncle Joe, it's me. Here are my pictures..."). You can write the letter before inserting pictures. However, AOL always puts the pictures at the top of the e-mail. That's why it's best to write your text around the pictures by doing it last.

That's all there is to it.

One thing that really impressed my about AOL's Insert Pictures feature is that it includes a link to the full resolution picture. A big problem with sending pictures through e-mail is that they are often to large, both on the screen and in file size. AOL solves this by sending a shrinked down version (you pick the size in step 5). Then they take it a step further: The person who receives the e-mail can click the picture and download the original, high-resolution version of the photo. Pretty slick!

The recipients to whom you send these mixed text and picture e-mails must be able to view "HTML e-mails." I would venture to say that 95% of people you send e-mails to will be able to view them. The remainder will see these photos as attachments that need to be downloaded. That's their problem, not yours!

If you don't have the "Insert Pictures" option in your AOL program, here's how you can log in through your web browser:

  1. Sign in to AOL as you normally would.
  2. Go to the Windows Start Menu and select the "Internet Explorer" item. This will either be in the top left of the menu or under "All Programs."
  3. In the Address bar (the text box at the top of Internet Explorer), type
  4. Sign in and navigate to Mail.
  5. From there, click the "Write Mail" button and you should see the same window shown the screenshots.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you run into any problems.


When ever I send an email from AOL (website not program) I have this cute picture of a white cat in the title area. Trouble is I use this for business and it's sending the wrong message altogether.

I don't know how it got there and for the life of me I can't find how to delete it.

Any ideas on this?

Much appreciated.

Select from one of 36 cats as your AOL Buddy Icon

You have stumbled across AOL's "Buddy Icons" where you can select a picture to include in every e-mail. It looks like there are thousands of Buddies to choose from, including 36 different cats! Removing your Buddy Icon is fairly simple and I'll show you how.

The setting is found under your "signature" configuration (the short bit of text that is added automatically to the end of your e-mail). There you can select a Buddy Icon or turn the feature off.

Here's how to find the setting:

  1. Login to AOL web mail and Click "Settings" in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Click the "Compose" tab on the left side of the page.
  3. You should now see your Signature settings, including the your kitty cat. Just uncheck "Show buddy icon in signature" to make the cat go away.
  4. Click the "Save" button.

You should now be buddy-free!


I am going to sound like a real idiot because when it comes to the computer, I am. I have had AOL as my internet provider for years now and am converting this weekend to local cable high speed optimum online. What I don't understand is, will I lose all my AOL emails received and sent?

Will the switch disrupt anything on the computer I need to know about? I can't find stuff as it is LOL.

My main concern is email and work forms I have on my tool bar.

Any info you can offer will be helpful.

Update: You can keep accessing your AOL mail the way you always have after canceling your AOL subscription or use the technique here. Read more.

Congratulations on moving up to the broadband world. A week from now you are going to wonder how you ever got by on dial-up!

Good news: AOL lets you keep you e-mail address and all of your messages after you cancel. You will access your AOL e-mail in a different way, though. You can practice this now.

Here's what I want you to do:

  1. Log on to AOL and then minimize it. The minimize button is the third button from the right in the top right corner of the AOL window.
  2. Now run Internet Explorer. You can find it on your Start menu on the top-left, just under your name.
  3. In the Address Bar of Internet Explorer, type "" This will take you to AOL's Internet home page. (BTW, the Address Bar is the topmost text box in Internet Explorer.)
  4. On AOL's home page, click the "Mail" button and log in. Tada, you are in your AOL e-mail outside of the AOL program.

When you get rid of AOL's dial-up service, this is how you will access AOL services using your AOL login.

Even more liberating, you can sign in to AOL Mail on any computer, not just your own. Check your mail at work, while your on vacation, anywhere you have access to the Internet!

Good luck and welcome to the high-speed Internet.


How can I remove the empty picture frames to the left of each contact in my "Contacts" list in AOL Webmail?

When I left-click on them, I get the following pop-up message: "(contact) does not have an AIM account." I have always used the "Standard Version" of AOL Webmail, because I really don't like the look of the"'Basic Version": however, these empty frames just appeared a couple of days ago.

When I right-click on the empty picture frame in a contact's pop-up window and go to "Properties", I find a long web address. Could this be a "Beta" problem?

I sincerely appreciate any help you can offer.

AOL's Web Mail interface showing Contact list. Context menu for column headings. One item reads 'Buddy Icons' and is checked.

I see pictures next to the contacts too. There is a way to get rid of them:

  1. Click "Contacts" on the right side of the window.
  2. Right-click anywhere on the columns above the contact list. This will bring up a menu with four check box items.
  3. Uncheck the "Buddy Icon" check box and those smiling silhouettes go away.

I'm not sure how useful this feature is. Buddy Icons are for AOL users only. Not all AOL members choose one.

I imagine that an average contact list contains perhaps 10% AOL/AIM members. That's a lot of generic, faceless men staring at you as you scroll through your contacts!

P. S. On the off chance you're wondering, they're called "Buddy" Icons for everyone, not just you. They aren't "Jeffy" Icons for me!


How do I embed/insert images in AOL Webmail without having the ugly black rule around them?

I've tried sending images embedded in an Entourage email to my AOL account (no border) and then copy/pasting them into AOL mail using a reply to a new sender. This works in AOL but not other browser/email clients where the image link becomes broken. Forwarding sometimes works, but all this is awkward.

Do I need to build a template in CSS or HTML and put that into an AOL email? How exactly do I do that and how do I make it browser/email client compatible? Details please!!!

I'm with you- I see no way of removing the border around the inline pictures in AOL Webmail. You mentioned that you can format your e-mail the way you want in Microsoft Entourage. Did you know you can send and receive AOL e-mail through Entourage?

I say, if AOL's Webmail doesn't work for you, dump it and use your own e-mail client! AOL is nice enough to let you do this (unlike some of its other web mail competitors).

In addition to desktop clients like Microsoft Outlook and Entourage, major web mail services (Yahoo!, Hotmail/Live, GMail) can also share your AOL e-mail account. You can use AOL Webmail alongside another e-mail client or replace it completely.


Preparing for the Move

Microsoft has a guides to setting up AOL e-mail accounts for Entourage, Outlook and Outlook Express.

At the AOL Help site, there's an excellent introduction and reference document called called "Read and Send AOL® or AIM® E-mail With Other E-mail Applications." Unfortunately, I'm unable to link to it. To find this document, search AOL Help for the term "Other E-mail Applications" It should be the second result.


AOL E-mail Client Tips and Tricks

  • Use IMAP rather than POP3. AOL offers two mechanisms to receive your e-mail. IMAP is a newer protocol and has many advantages over POP. In particular, IMAP keeps your e-mail client synchronized with AOL Webmail. With POP, you need to synchronize your e-mail folders manually.
  • "Outgoing mail (SMTP) server requires authentication." I found that I couldn't send mail until I enabled this setting. Here's how to find the setting in Outlook: From the "E-mail accounts" window, click the "More Settings" button. Click the "Outgoing Server" tab and you'll find "requires authentication" check box.
  • SMTP port is 587. Another thing that could prevent you from sending e-mail is failing to change a default setting (though Entourage may do this for you). Here's how to change the SMTP port in Outlook: From the "E-mail accounts" window, click the "More Settings" button. Click the "Advanced" tab. The "Outgoing server (SMTP)" setting is here. By default it is 25. You need to set it to 587.
  • Leave messages on server. This setting only applies to POP configurations (not IMAP). In Outlook and Entourage, this option is disabled by default. AOL recommends you turn it on. This is a convenient way to automatically back up your Inbox and it ensures you can still read your messages when you log in to AOL Webmail. Don't worry about your Inbox filling up- AOL provides unlimited storage space.

On a side note, the borders around the pictures indicate that you can click on these images to see the original, high-resolution photo. As far as I can tell, there is no way to suppress this link to the original picture.


No matter which browser I am working with, IE, Google, MSN, AOL, etc. the AOL Dialup window keeps popping up and stopping operations until I 'X' it out &/or eliminate from task bar. I have broadband cable connection and don't need this dialup crap, especially when it blocks operations. It has infected both my pc and notebook. How do I get rid of it?

I think this is also a part of it. Another popup window I get says that a site is not available. When I look, I notice that AOL Dialup is showing in the task bar. When I eliminate it from the task bar, I then am able to go to the site selected.One more is a popup window that says I am no longer connected via I, offering to 'connect' or 'work offline'. Selecting 'Connect' allows IE to go to the site chosen. Selecting 'Work Offline', doesn't.

AOL and Microsoft were trying to do you a favor by connecting to the Internet automatically as needed. Now that you're no longer with AOL, this feature is quite unwelcome! Fortunately, disabling it is fairly simple.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Bring up Control Panel from the Start menu.
  2. Click "Network and Internet Connections."
  3. Click "Internet Options."
  4. Select the "Connections" tab in the Internet Options window.
  5. Finally, select the "Never Dial a Connection" option.

Now you can enjoy your broadband without AOL getting in the way!


I use AOL for my business email, and want to be able to suppress the little sales message they add to the bottom of every email.. It's so tacky.

Example from today: "Get the Moviefone Toolbar. Showtimes, theaters, movie news, & more!"

How can I stop this from appearing on all my email? Thanks!

Update: See a much easier way to get rid of these e-mail footer advertisements.

I don't see a way to prevent advertising in your e-mail in the web based version of AOL Mail. However, by using Entourage or a similar e-mail program on the Mac, the only sales pitches in your e-mail will come from you!

Just set up an e-mail client on your computer (a topic we recently discussed) and AOL will stop sending advertisements. If you don't have Microsoft Entourage, there are free programs, like Eudora, available.

The downside to using an e-mail client instead of AOL's Webmail is that you can't jump on any Internet connected computer and send ad-free mail. You must set it up on each new computer.

Luckily, you can use both Webmail and an e-mail client at the same time, as long as you use IMAP (discussed in the same topic above). This e-mail protocol keeps your computer's Inbox synchronized with AOL Webmail.


I don't recall making any changes to my AOL, but now most photos come up as those red X'es in a white box. I have free AOL and service through SBC Global.

What specific setting can I check? On AOL or Explorer? Thanks!

AOL WebMail message with pictures hidden. Two links allow your to view them: Show images 'for this message' and 'always for sender.'

Believe it or not, AOL is trying to protect you by automatically blocking images from people you don't know. Spammers and virus senders often use pictures for their devious purposes. Until you tell AOL Mail, "This guy is OK," it hides all photos in the e-mail message.

There are two ways of viewing images blocked by AOL:

  1. Add sender to contact list

    Any e-mail address in your contacts is automatically trusted by AOL when sending you pictures. When viewing an e-mail, simply hover over your mouse the sender's name. A bubble will appear allowing you to add this person to your address book.


  2. View pictures for a single e-mail

    When viewing a message with blocked pictures, a yellow strip appears at the top of the e-mail message. The first link in this yellow strip, "for this message" lets you view the images in the e-mail for this single viewing only. If bring up the e-mail again later, you will need to give AOL permission to display the pictures again.

    As an aside, the second link in the yellow strip reading "always for this sender" adds the person to your contacts. However, it leaves all contact details blank except for the e-mail address. If you do this every time, soon you'll have a contact list of nobody's! You can avoid this sloppiness by using method #1.

You can also disable this security feature all together. Obviously, this is a risky thing to do and you shouldn't do this without a good reason.

The biggest risk of disabling this feature is increased spam e-mail. If you view a spammer's image, they confirm your e-mail address is legitimate and active. This inevitably leads to more spam.

Stop AOL from hiding e-mail images by following these steps:

  1. Click "Settings" in the top right corner of the window (just below the advertisement)
  2. Uncheck the box reading: "Hide images in mail from unknown senders."

For better or worse, you'll now see pictures that strangers send you!

And that's the whole story on why AOL's sometimes hides pictures of your loved ones.


We recently cancelled AOL and now have DSL. It's great that I can still use my old AOL screenname but too often when I access AOL webmail it bluescreens my computer! Why does this happen?

Can I use Eudora instead of loggin' onto AOL at all? Thanks.

Why does Windows go blue screen when you do X? If only I had a simple answer to that. It's Windows' way of saying some recently installed software or hardware is making it very sick.

You can use Eudora or your web browser. It's your choice.

Just log in at and you're on AOL's version of Yahoo! Mail (actually better in some ways).

Would you rather use Eudora? AOL has you covered there too: Check out their step-by-step guide to setting up AOL mail in Eudora.


What can I do to stop the Google search pop-up? I have never used it and it just becomes a pain in the butt to keep closing it down.

Every time I log on to AOL, I get a pop up search engine window from AOL. How the heck do I stop that?


AOL screenshot showing the Google pop up window, alongside the two other web search options.
Dialog box for disabling AOL search window. Reads, 'By selecting the option you will no longer receive the Search Window at log in.

The verdict is in: AOL'ers despise the Google search pop-up window! Fortunately, it's easy enough to get rid of using one of these two methods:

  1. Go to AOL Keyword: "Search Window"  A window pops up (see screenshot) allowing you to "Opt out" of the Google search window.
  2. Click the big link at  AOL automatically summons the Opt out window.

The search window is more than redundant: AOL now presents you with three places to Google upon signing in. The new window partially covers the exact same search feature in the Welcome window.

Clearly, this search window is born out of the Google partnership with AOL. The implementation is classic AOL- crassly shoving a window in your face that's useless to you but beneficial to AOL.


Update: As of January 2009, this technique only works for paid members read more below. Free AOL members can still get ad-free mail by using an e-mail client like Outlook, Entourage or Eudora.

In response to "Sue" on 6/18/2008 about removing the AOL advertisements at the bottom of emails: Go to Keyword footer and uncheck the box next to "Show the message footer at the bottom of the each email you send" then click "save."

Thanks Nancy. Finally someone else is giving advice instead of just me!

Using the footer keyword is much easier and much less disruptive to your normal routine than the route I suggested.

It's nice that AOL gives you the choice of opting out of these advertisements. As far as I know, Yahoo! and Hotmail don't give you this choice. You're stuck with their e-mail footer advertisements.

The more I learn about AOL Mail, the more I appreciate the flexibility and options that you don't find with the other major free e-mail services.

When I click on AOL Keyword and type in footer, I receive the following response:

"We're sorry, access not allowed."

Does AOL Keyword work when you have the free version of AOL? Is there any other reason why I would not be allowed access to the AOL Keyword feature?

By golly you're right! I'm not only getting the same message but my formerly ad-free e-mail messages now have footer ads.

AOL spokeswoman Molly McMahon confirmed that this feature is no longer available to free subscribers. This puts them on par with other free e-mail providers like Yahoo! who will remove footer ads only when you pay up.

Paid AOL subscribers can still use this trick. Molly verified this herself and even offered an additional way to disable footer advertisements in AOL Web Mail (again, only for paid subscribers):

  1. Click "Settings" in the top right corner.
  2. Select "Compose" on the left
  3. Look for the option "Turn On/Off Footer."

If ad-free e-mail is really important to you, there is still an option available to free AOL members. It does takes some effort and you will need to change the way you send e-mail. But if you use your AOL account for business, for example, it may be worth the trouble.

AOL is looking to long and hard at additional ways to generate revenue. Apparently someone realized they could eke out some extra change by closing this ad-suppressing loophole on the people who found it.

I just hope it wasn't Knowzy's publication of the technique that tipped them off!




I use Yahoo! as my main e-mail address but opened an AOL address for the sole purpose of using the feature to place photos in the text of e-mails. Recipients (and me too) hate to have to download lots of pics.

Now, I hear AOL is dropping this feature, is this true? Anywhere else I can go for this great feature?

Until just recently, one could insert pictures directly into the body of an email by using the " insert picture" function. AOL has disabled that feature. One now just has the option of using a service called Photostream which only allows you to send a picture separately with a short message.

I am devastated, as I have now lost a feature which gave me pleasure and dramatized my email messages.

I have the free version of AOL. Is there anything I can use or do which would allow me to insert pictures directly into the email again (I think the term is "embed")?

I have lost the fun of my email!Thank you so much for your attention.

My aol email account will not let me insert pictures in my email at this time. It says it is under maintained.

When will it be fixed? Thank you.

Message from AOL Webmail reads 'Apologies... The Insert Pictures feature is under maintenance.'
Insert Pictures: Returning Early Next Year

All of the features we love about Insert Pictures are coming back. Plus a "better UI and enhanced functionality."

Good news: The Insert Pictures feature in AOL Mail is coming back in "the beginning of next year," according to AOL spokeswoman Molly McMahon. She assured me that features like embedding pictures in the body of the e-mail and different size pictures will be part of the re-launch. She even says improvements are coming.

So sit tight. It really is "under maintenance" and will return. Just probably not in time to send holiday photos!


Alternatives to Insert Pictures

Your options as an AOL member are pretty limited until Insert Pictures returns. Here are a few alternatives:

  • Attach files: This button is right next to the Insert Pictures button. This will send your photos along with your e-mail but without any special formatting. Attach files doesn't shrink your pictures down. You may find you can only send a few at a time because of this.
  • Share your Shoebox: If you save your pictures on AOL, you can create a photo album and share it with your friends and family via e-mail. Go to to move your photos to American Greetings Photoworks and click the "My Share Page" tab.
  • Use an e-mail client: You can connect to your AOL e-mail through programs like Outlook and the free Windows Live Mail. Outlook allows you to do inline photos and shrink photos down. Live Mail has quite a few options for embedding pictures in your AOL e-mail.
  • Hotmail: If you're not tied to your AOL address, you can insert photos in your e-mail with Hotmail. However, you only have one choice in size, you must use Internet Explorer and it doesn't not provide a link back to the original, full-resolution photo. More on AOL's competition below.


AOL Insert Pictures: Returning with Old Features Plus Improvements

I asked Molly McMahon whether three specific aspects of Insert Pictures are returning:

  1. Embedding pictures within the body of an e-mail
  2. Ability to select multiple picture sizes
  3. Clicking on pictures brings up the original, full resolution photo

She answered a resounding "yes" to all three. Beyond that, she says additional features are coming centering "around media integration, the embedding of assets and asset management."

Those are some obtuse terms. Basically they mean that when Insert Pictures returns:

  • You'll be able to embed more than just pictures. Perhaps video, sound and slideshows.
  • You can store and manage your photos online and easily embed them in your e-mails.

I'm sure there's more to it but that's all I can safely read into the statement.


AOL Pictures Among more than 50 AOL Services Closing

The closure of AOL Pictures is the reason why AOL Mail's Insert Pictures is no longer available. But AOL Pictures just the tip of the iceberg.

Alley Insider reports more than 50 other AOL services are closing, along with a complete list of services shutting down. The DygiScape blog goes further and gives a short summary of many of the shuttering services as well as some services that are staying open.


AOL Does It Better Than Other Webmail Providers

I tried the other three big webmail providers- Yahoo!, Hotmail and GMail- to see what they offer in terms of sending pictures. AOL's Insert Pictures beats them all hands-down. Or, at least it did beat them and should beat them again when it returns!

Yahoo! and GMail don't have an insert picture feature at all. You simply attach photos to your e-mail. This is exactly what AOL suggests you do while the Insert Pictures feature is under maintenance.

Hotmail has an inline insert picture function. But it falls far short AOL's Insert Pictures:

  • To use Hotmail's Insert Picture function, you must use Internet Explorer.
  • It forces you to shrink down photos but doesn't give you a choice in size.
  • It doesn't provide a link back to the original photo.

The worst part, for me anyway, I tried Hotmail's Insert Picture function on two different computers. Both times Internet Explorer crashed during the process. I was never able to successfully send a photo through Hotmail!


Re: Leaving AOL: Will I Lose My E-Mail?

After you leave AOL for broadband, you can still access AOL for free and not have to go thru the suggested IE access which takes much longer. Just click on the AOL icon as usual as long as you have Web access.

You're absolutely right: Very little changes once you cancel your AOL subscription.

You can still bring up the AOL Desktop. You keep your screen name and e-mail address. AOL will still tell you, "You've got mail!" You can still surf the Internet from the AOL program. Most, if not all, of your AOL Keywords will continue to work.

Of course, you do lose a few things. The following items come directly from the "Discover AOL," where they try to sell you on subscribing.

  • Dial Up Internet Access: Chances are, if you're considering giving up your AOL subscription, it's because you now have DSL or cable Internet. If that's the case, you probably don't need dial up Internet access anyway.
  • Technical Support From AOL: You'll lose the privilege of calling up AOL for tech support when you have a problem. You'll need to rely on help from other AOL members in their message boards or read articles at AOL Help.
  • Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware Programs: As a paying member, you get McAfee's Internet Security Suite free, which includes anti-virus software. Free AOL members don't enjoy that privilege.

Perhaps there are a few other features you'll lose that I'm not aware of, but those are the big three.

AOL is trying to make money these days from advertising and cutting costs (like tech support call centers). They realized several years ago that they can't rely on dial-up Internet revenue in an increasingly broadband world and have adjusted their business plan accordingly.

So go ahead, save yourself $25/month. You won't lose much!


I have used AOL for 20+ years and never had a problem saving emails on Windows XP. I switched to AOL for Mac and emails are deleted after 30 days. I've checked the Preferences and do not see any option for the length of time to keep emails.

How do I keep emails indefinitely?

Screenshot of AOL web page that allows you to switch to a 'Unified Inbox.'
Old Inbox Deletes Messages, New Inbox Doesn't

The "Unified Inbox" keeps your AOL e-mails forever. It's free and switch is only a mouse click away.

Here's the scoop: You need to switch to what's called a "Unified Inbox." That is, an Inbox where you don't have "New" and "Old" folders underneath it.

There's no charge for this and switching is as simple as following a link or entering an AOL keyword. Here's how to do it:

I'm guessing you were sent back to the old Inbox style when you installed AOL on your Mac. When you first logged on, AOL may have prompted you to switch to "An Easier Way to Manage Your E-Mail." To which you probably said, "No thanks, I'm happy with the way it is" and hit Cancel. Clicking Cancel then downgraded you to the old Inbox.

This is pure speculation, though. I don't know for sure how you ended up on the old style Inbox.


Why Not Unlimited Mail for All?

AOL offers unlimited e-mail storage for everyone, even for users that don't pay a monthly fee. So why delete 30-day old e-mails for customers with an "old-style" Inbox? Why not just apply that policy to all Inbox styles?

After all, the extra maintenance required to save your e-mails before they're gone is a sure-fire way to get your customers looking at alternative e-mail providers.

For people like who woke up one day to find e-mails missing, this restriction might infuriate you. What if among those missing e-mails was a letter from your son in Iraq or the contact info of an important business partner?

This confusing, unevenly-applied restriction has real-world implications.

AOL really ought to throw some engineering resources behind this to solve the problem. Whether it's allowing old-style Inboxes to retain messages forever or prominently warning users to upgrade before e-mails are lost forever.

There's really no excuse they could offer for not fixing this problem that would satisfy me.


Regarding Latino and Black American "sites" posted on the page when opening AOL: What is going on now?? AOL is catering to special classes and races of people???????

I find this highly offensive as an Italian-Polish! Where the hell are my nationality's pages?????? I think this is scandalous!!!

How dare you infringe on the rights of some citizenry and leave them out????

I am seriously thinking of changing my server!

AOL is just a little too progressive and pro-Obama per his request!!! Knock it off!!!!!! We are "Americans all." No special pages for blacks and Spanish. Enough!!!!!!!!!!

I suspect you will not have the courage to answer this in a correct manner. It will be some psycho babble! I am sick of it all..the special treatments of select groups!!!! Knock it off! It's folks like me in the millions keeping your butts in jobs!

Screenshot of AOL's home page from October 21st, 2009.
Too Much Color on AOL's Home Page?

Does AOL have too much salsa and soul to the exclusion of other cultures? Knowzy mostly found white people.

Wow! Spoken with the passion of a hot-blooded Italian!

Let me clear up one thing off-the-bat: Knowzy is not affiliated with AOL in any way. More often than not, we're holding their feet to the fire. And we certainly have no say or sway in what they put on their home page.

That said, Knowzy doesn't shy away from controversy and I'm happy to answer your charges, in plain English.


Examples of "Extreme Diversity," Please

I'm not seeing a pattern of linking to "Latino and black" sites on the home page. Maybe you can elaborate on what you found so offensive.

I'm guessing you're talking about the the rotating news panel in the top left of the Welcome page. Here's what I found there in the last three days:

  • October 21st, 2009: Nine items. Three items were race neutral- how to get the best deal on a car and the like. One item had an adorable black kid who was on the Ellen Show. The music news section headline featured Chrisette Michele (pictured), an up-and-coming African American jazz vocalist. The remaining panels featured white people.
  • October 22nd, 2009: 10 items, all photos of people were white people.
  • October 23rd, 2009: Nine items. Top item: Story about Annie Leibovitz's official family portrait of the Obamas, including a poll allowing you to express your opinion of the photo. Another item was a split photo showing a white and black person with the headline, "Highest SalariesFor Entry-Level." The remaining items with photos of people were all white people.

There you have it: Out of 28 items, I found 3.5 photos of African Americans and none featuring anyone of Latino or any other discernable ethnic heritage. The rest were just us white folk.

Either you have a very low tolerance of seeing people who look different from you or AOL was keeping its extreme diversity under wraps on the three days I visited.



Accentuate the Positive

Rather than spending your time and energy trying futilely to deny others their culture, why not try to raise the profile of Italian- and Polish-American cultures? I think you'll find it more rewarding.

Right now, an Emmy Award winning TV producer is trying to get an Italian-American cable television network off the ground but needs help. October is Polish-American Heritage Month.

If you stand up for your culture and people take notice of it, AOL will certainly link to it.



Obama Doesn't Control AOL's Home Page

The idea that President Obama is somehow dictating what shows up on AOL's home page is delusional. You obviously don't like him (or, dare I suggest, black people in general) but you are giving him more power in your own mind than he actually wields.

The first amendment of the constitution of this great nation guarantees the freedom of the press. If the Obama administration were to go around telling the press what they should and shouldn't publish, very few organizations acquiesce. Quite the opposite, most would expose his attempts at undue influence and that story would be repeated ad nauseam on Fox News and similar right-wing outlets.

You'll excuse me if this sounds like "psycho-babble" but the more you build up Barack Obama as some unstoppable anti-hero, the more helpless you're going to feel.



You Should Stop Paying for AOL

I do think you should cancel your AOL subscription but not because they aren't racist enough. You should quit because you're paying too much for very slow Internet access.

Look at the rates for DSL from your local phone company. Chances are you could be paying $20 per month for Internet service that's 10 to 100 times faster than AOL.

When you cancel your subscription, you get to keep your AOL e-mail address and you can still access all of AOL's content the way you always have.

Read more on leaving AOL in an earlier post.


May God bless you, Esther. And please, try to love your neighbors.

Regarding your obtuse response: Yup I do take offense at anything that speaks to special interest groups of all types...rant???? Yes I could say so....This country has taken a direction in watching and warning how people think and act and respond and just now passes a hate crime law snuck in with defense of all places.......Hate is everywhere not only in the homosexual Community but in loads of places like my Catholic faith...Not one day goes by that my church is not attacked...Why????? Because we are the last hold on no abortions except to save mothers lives and no men marrying men and no women marry women.....I think that sounds pretty normal thinking.........I mean the parts about not killing babies and not having sex with people of the same sex! By the way I belong to several Italian and Rusyn (my other side ancestry) groups and do not need your Input!!!!! As well since a small girl in Catholic grade school all the way through nursing school and now I have conservative black friends! Oh that's right they are not real blacks!!! Like Clarence Thomas maybe??? so get off that tripe!!!! by the way my black friends are very very wary of your Obama!!!! He is not a good man...does not have the best interest of this nation in his mind is not up to the job and a million other things i could say.....the man could be purple or green or pink and I would still think the same...Your the typical racist!!!!! Pin your thoughts on she hates blacks....Get a damn life! And stop with your reverse racism!


I do not need instructions on how to live my life from an upstart in this life...So thanks for God's blessings and telling me to love my neighbor! You jeff editor.... have no idea what love thy neighbor means to me.. none!!!! least in regards to "my personal life" and what I have done to love my neighbors!!!!!!! You have no knowledge as to what I have lived through and seen and aided as I have lived my life so get off your rant as display much unprofessional behavior in your dealings with people who pay for aol service! You could learn from a class in human resource for starters......speaking as a prior psyche nurse....just a tad of of common understanding to help you....and nope as I said I do not hate or dislike blacks or obama... I think he is a poor pres but so do many! and find that remark highly smearing! I simply and with passion stated my opine that there were "no" postings about where to go on the home page for blacks and latinos and thought now wouldn't that be nice if all people of all various ethnic backgrounds had little pop up sites!!!!!!!so who is the racist!!!!!!!!?????jeff......???

Esther, you wrote in to what you apparently thought was AOL claiming racial favoritism of some sort. I still don't know what specifically you are so angry about.

This is a section of a magazine covering all things AOL. I'm happy to talk to you about a link, a pop up, a news item or anything else that you think demonstrates reverse racism on AOL's part.

What I need from you is the substance of your complaint minus the personal insults and diversions on political ideology.

I don't enjoy talking to people who insult me nor do I have to. Let's get past it or this conversation is over.


The Substance

Here's what I believe is the substance of your letters:

You are offended by a popup advertisement on AOL that promoted a certain ethnic group.

I'm getting this from a single sentence in your response:


Again, please describe to me exactly what you saw. What did it look like? What did it say? How big was it? Was there a picture? Where did the link go? This would really help to support your complaint.


You're defending blacks, Latinos and everyone else.

In the quote above, you said there was no place to go on the home page for black and Latino content. This seems to contradict the your original letter, which opened:

LATINO and BLACK AMERICAN "SITES" POSTED ON PAGE WHEN OPENING AOL! ... AOL is catering to special classes and races of people???????

Notice it seems to say just the opposite- that you don't want to see Latin and black sites on the page.

I thought this was substance of your first letter. And this is what I was responding to. I apologize if I misinterpreted you.


Last Chance to Get Your Real Complaint Aired

I didn't bring up gays, hate crime laws, hatred of the Catholic church, abortion or Clarence Thomas. I don't feel the need prove to you that I'm not racist. I'm not worried that you consider me unprofessional because I don't work for or speak for AOL.

Lets put all that aside. The "Ask an AOL Expert" section of Knowzy isn't about any of these things.

Just tell me what exactly you saw on AOL and why it offended you.

If you can do that diplomatically, I will post your response.

I will check out your sites... I apologize if I said any offensive things in regards to your web page.....lets just drop are entitled to your page and all that takes place on its pages. I just saw on the upper right home page a message for it and it spawned some issues of inclusiveness that is akin to like the black caucus in congress which I think is silly ...we are all Americans and that goes for congress as well.....

There is too much bitterness and hatred in this nation and peoples nerves are very frayed......we do not have a leader that is calming any of the great fears of many but in my humble opinion is making matters worse......just my thoughts...

Good luck with your pages....

God Bless and Mary keep you and all on your pages....


I'm still on dial up with AOL. Is this the reason I can not receive YouTube properly?

Screenshot of YouTube video player. The progress inicator moves to the right.
Pause to Eliminate YouTube Video Choppiness

You can still watch YouTube videos on a slow Internet connection. Just click "Pause" and wait for the video to load.

Viewing YouTube videos over slow Internet connections like AOL dial up can be a frustrating experience full of stops and starts. But there is a trick that allows you to watch the entire video smoothly.

The best you can expect from your modem is 56Kbps. In real life, it's usually somewhat slower. According to Jimmy Ruska's blog, YouTube videos play at the following rates:

  • Standard Video: 200Kbps (4 times faster than your dial up connection)
  • High Quality Video: 900Kbps (18 times faster)
  • High Definition Video: 2,000Kbps (40 times faster)

As you can see, your poor, humble dial up Internet connection doesn't stand a chance at playing these videos smoothly.

There is hope, though: You can tell YouTube to download the entire video to your hard drive before playing it.

Here's what you do:

  1. Bring up a YouTube video. For our test, we're using the popular "Keyboard Cat" video. It's a standard video- 4 times faster than your Internet connection.
  2. Click the "Pause" button in the bottom-left corner of the video player. While paused, you'll see a light red line slowly growing toward the right side of the video player. This is the download progress.
  3. When the light red line reaches all the way to the right side of the player, you are ready to watch the video. Just click the "Play" button in the bottom-left corner.

There you have it, no more choppy YouTube videos. This trick also works on many other video sites (though not all).

I do recommend moving off AOL dial up and on to a high-speed Internet connection if it's available in your area. Even when you quit paying for AOL, you still keep your AOL e-mail address and you can still run the AOL program. You might even find DSL Internet service from your phone company is cheaper than $25 per month.


Share Your Thoughts

Use this form to ask about an AOL feature, service or rumor. Knowzy has no relationship with America Online. We'll give you a straight answer, free of charge!

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Originally Published:  Tuesday, May 20, 2008, 5:00 PM PT

Last Updated:  Monday, June 20, 2011, 9:59 PM PT

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