Password hiccups are a pretty common occurrence for anyone now. If you’re following best practices for account security, you should have a different password for everything (however, let’s be realistic).
But about once a month I have a client who has trouble accessing their AOL email, and they assure me that their password is correct. AND IT IS. So what’s the deal with being unable to sign in to your AOL email with a correct password? What gives??
First let’s establish, you didn’t do anything wrong! This issue is all on AOL’s side and their implementation of a new security feature that generates a unique password for 3rd party apps.
3rd Party App: An application that is provided by a vendor other than the original manufacturer.
So, in this instance, AOL is the original manufacturer of their email. To access AOL email in the way they intended, you would open your web browser and type in mail.aol.com. Microsoft or Apple would be considered the 3rd party vendor, who is offering their own application (Outlook and Apple Mail, respectively) to access AOL email instead.
UPDATE November 11, 2022
AOL is currently “upgrading their services” and 3rd Party App Password Generation is no longer available. You will receive the error, “Sorry, this feature is not available right now!”. It seems this feature has been unavailable since May of 2022.
In an effort to find a working solution, here is a list of some workarounds in the meantime, as well as some more permanent solutions. Not being able to set up an App Password for 3rd Party Applications, while AOL still REQUIRES these passwords, can lead to different issues on different devices and different programs. The ideal solution would be for AOL to either turn off this requirement or to fix the password generator. But it’s been 6 months, so let’s be realistic.
Here are solutions to different device issues:
- I can’t access my AOL email on my iPhone (same solution for Android phones).
Most iPhone users access their email through the Apple Mail app where the account is managed under Account settings in your iPhone. Without being able to generate a 3rd Party App password, adding the AOL email account under Account settings will no longer be successful.
A workaround is to download the AOL Mail app to your iPhone and access your AOL email there. The same app can also be downloaded on Androids. The interface of the AOL Mail app will take some getting used to, but out of all the solutions I have listed here, this is probably the best one.
If you use the Outlook app instead on your iPhone (or Android), the AOL Mail app is still your solution, but may end up being a little less ideal. This is because if you were one to use folders for organization, they were likely saved within the Outlook app and not within the AOL server. The only solution is to recreate the folders within AOL this time, which you can do with the AOL Mail app or via mail.aol.com. It might take a bit of time depending on how organized you kept your inbox, but saving your folders on the AOL server instead is a good preventative measure against several other issues that can also happen while using 3rd Party Apps to manage emails.
- I can’t access my AOL email within Outlook (same solution for the Windows Mail app).
Outlook is a great program to manage several emails in one place, keeping them organized, and integrating extra features and programs. So, it is understandably frustrating for many people out there to be unable to manage their email like they have been after all these years, just all of a sudden overnight.
Unfortunately, there is no alternative of equal value. For one, there is no 3rd Party app quite like Outlook to migrate to. But even if there was, the problem is that the 3rd Party app password generator can’t produce any passwords and so it would not work with another app either.
This leaves 2 solutions. One gives immediate results and the other is a long-term solution.
The immediate solution is to use mail.aol.com to access your email. As stated above in the solution for your phone, folders can be recreated at the AOL server level from this website address, but you will potentially lose many, many features you may have used before.
The long-term solution is to create a new email address with someone other than AOL (don’t recommend Yahoo either*) and have all your emails from AOL forwarded over. It can be a lengthy and in-depth process to migrate to a new email address, but there are some tricks to make it a little easier, and the process doesn’t need to be rushed either, take your time.
After setting up your new email address, and setting up forwarding on your old one, here are some tricks to make the process easier:
- Create a signature on the new email address notifying others of your email change.
- After setting up your new email in Outlook, there are different settings that can be altered that’ll flag/notify you of which emails are forwarded from that old email address.
- Send out an email to your contacts, asking them to update their contact information with your new email address.
- Go through your old email inbox and make a list of all the companies you receive emails from, companies that have your old email on file. Update a few at a time and you’ll watch that list dwindle down. Keep an eye out for emails in your inbox that are still being forwarded from the old.
*The reason I don’t recommend Yahoo either, is AOL and Yahoo over the years have gone through a lot of the same restructuring, as well as both “offering” (rather forcing) paid support. Both AOL and Yahoo force a monthly subscription if you need support over the phone. And why pay for an ad-laced service that is offered ad-free (and better) by other companies?
- I can’t use print to email on my printer anymore.
If you utilize the print-to-email feature on your printer and use it in conjunction with your AOL email, I’m sorry I don’t have better news. There is no way to get this working with your AOL email unless AOL gets their stuff together. I’d recommend the long-term solution above to create a new email address to replace your AOL, and then set up the print-to-email with the new email address.
- Where are my emails? They’re in Outlook, but not at mail.aol.com
It sounds like you most likely had your AOL account in Outlook set up with POP settings, instead of IMAP. And specifically for the emails to be deleted from the server once they were retrieved by the Outlook POP settings. This was likely set up so that your Inbox wouldn’t reach data capacity. So yes, your emails are no longer available at the server level, but don’t panic! Your emails are still in Outlook, and even if you don’t get your AOL email working in Outlook again, it is possible for you to keep those emails on file and use them in the future with a different email address. For more on IMAP vs POP, check out this article here.