Free AOL Desktop is being discontinued

If you’re still using the AOL Desktop program, keep in mind that the company is slowly discontinuing the free service.

Last April, it started pushing random waves of users to upgrade to AOL Desktop Gold ($4.99 per month after a 30-day trial) or to instead use their free services. At some point, they will stop email support on the older free AOL Desktop versions, but that date hasn’t been released yet.

Keep in mind, AOL is not discontinuing its free email service via the Mail website, which is actually an alternative to AOL Desktop.

If you’re using AOL Desktop and you want the very minimum amount of change to your AOL experience, perhaps signup for AOL Desktop Gold when you’re given the ultimatum by AOL. The Gold version is very similar to the prior versions and your data is migrated over. I did notice some changes to the Sign On, Email, and IM interfaces, but I’d call those relatively minor when compared to the current free AOL Desktop version 9.8.

If you don’t want to pay the $4.99 per month fee to use AOL Desktop Gold, think about migrating to the free email and other services they offer via the Mail website. The AOL Desktop is just basically a shell interface to,, and other third-party websites anyway. Almost all of the AOL Desktop features and content are accessible directly on the Internet via a typical web browser, such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. Furthermore, your email, address book, and instant messenger (IM) data is already automatically synced with the services.

There’s basically nothing you need to do to make the change from the free AOL Desktop to the services, besides learning how to access and use them. To get started, go to, click the Mail (envelope) icon in the upper-right of the website, and sign on with your usual AOL screenname and password. You can also go directly to

On the Mail website you should see the same messages in your Inbox, Drafts, Sent, Spam, and Trash folders as you would see in the AOL Desktop versions. You should also see a list of Contacts, which should include the same people from your Address Book in the AOL Desktop versions. On the AOL Mail website you can also utilize AIM for instant messaging similar to that offered in the AOL Desktop versions. You’ll probably notice a few new AOL features as well, such as Calendar, Events, and To-Do lists.

There are some noticeable differences in the Mail website when compared with the AOL Desktop versions. For instance, if you have any messages stored in the Saved on My PC folders on the AOL Desktop versions, those aren’t synced with Mail, but you can keep the free AOL Desktop installed for archive purposes. You’ll also find that your favorites from the AOL Desktop versions don’t sync with the favorites list on the Mail website. Furthermore, there might be a few missing features, such as AOL Chatrooms, which appear to only be accessible via the AOL Desktop versions.

If you need help with transitioning from the free AOL Desktop to the Gold version or to Mail website, give us or your computer tech a call.

About the Author