America Online for Windows 9.7 Reviewed

AOL email is easy to use and great fun. The effective spam filtering contributes to the friendly email experience. Especially if you're exchanging lots of mail, chances are you'll miss the power, though, flexibility and automation in AOL's email service.


  • AOL is an easy and fun to use email experience
  • You can beautify and enrich emails with stationery, mail art, banners and more in AOL
  • AOL includes very effective spam filtering and unlimited online storage


  • AOL offers no filters, smart folders or labels to categorize mail
  • No support for secure messaging is built into AOL
  • AOL's message editor has formatting problems


  • AOL for Windows provides an easy to use interface to AOL's proprietary as well as Internet email.
  • Supports plain text and HTML messages, lets you use stationery, mail art, sounds, and more.
  • AOL uses personalized, adaptive filters to move junk mail to a designated "spam" folder.
  • Identifies mail from known, bulk, and other senders, lets you concentrate on one category easily.
  • AOL can block images and URLs in mail from unknown senders to protect your privacy.
  • Integrates with AIM, includes a fully featured address book and multiple email signatures.
  • AOL can send a vacation auto-response while you're away and can't check mail.
  • Messages to AOL members support reliable return receipts and can be unsent.
  • Parental controls let you restrict email exchange to particular addresses, disable file downloads.
  • AOL for Windows supports Windows XP/Vista/7/8.

Expert Review: AOL for Windows 9.7

AOL comes with an email service that has grown historically. This is good: AOL feels like you've always know it, it is easy and fun to use, and it concentrates on the essential things, making email a matter of communication, not technology.

Not all is good about AOL's legacy, though: interface and configuration have become a bit of a patchwork, even your emails are found in two places: the mailbox for new messages and the filing cabinet for archived mail. While the latter is fine for organizing mail, AOL lacks message labels and filters.

AOL for Windows Spam Filtering and Security

AOL certainly does not look old when it comes to the other, even more important filtering — eliminating junk mail. AOL's spam filters are barely visible but highly effective (occasionally, some overzealous blocking still seems to sort out some good mail at the server level).

It's also great to see that AOL blocks images and even links in mail from unknown senders. This enhances privacy and security by a lot and default. Incoming and outgoing attachments are scanned for viruses automatically.

Writing Mail with AOL for Windows

The message editor in AOL lets you create proper plain text emails as well as rich (and fun, stationery-enhanced) mail, but it also has its problems with producing plain text version of rich replies you send. Thus, AOL can make you look like the proverbial AOL user if you're not paying attention.

Of course, you can always make use of your unlimited AOL online email storage with any other email client using IMAP access.

(Updated April 2012)