On Friday, I was invited to try out the latest Yahoo! Mail Beta shortly after signing into Yahoo! Messenger when I arrived at work. Knowing this would provide writing material for next week, I quickly clicked “yes” about half a dozen times, and was greeted with a much more aesthetically pleasing email home page than I’ve seen from Yahoo! in a long time. Frankly, I’d stopped using Yahoo! Mail several years ago because I was tired of the garish, flashing adds that made me feel nauseous or slightly inclined to have a seizure (unless I wanted to pay for Yahoo! Mail Plus, which would let me get by with text ads instead of those terrible ones) — and why should I put up with that when Google’s free Gmail already offered text-only ads at no cost? It wasn’t (and still isn’t) going to happen. Sorry, but if I pay for premium email, it’s going to be completely ad free and that’s an article for another day.
Back to the Yahoo! Mail Beta — Here’s a look at what’s new:
Appearance I have to say, the new interface is much easier to look at. It might only be because it’s still in beta, but the ads seem much more tolerable in this lovlier setting than they were before. The default color is purple for the frame surrounding the message and folder panes, but you can change it to any of several colors and patterns by clicking Options, More Options above your email folders.
Preview Pane Yahoo! Claims that in this new beta, our beloved Preview Pane returns to us once more, eliminating the need to click and scroll through all the messages in order, or otherwise obliterate our view of what’s in the Inbox every time we read an email. If I could just get it to work, it would be great! Allegedly, there is a Preview button above the messages in the Inbox that allows you to activate this feature but mine is a no show. (Also noteworthy here: I am using Google Chrome (10.0.648.204) a browser supported by the new beta but I keep getting a suggestion from Yahoo! that I upgrade to one of the latest browsers, and lists Firefox and Internet Explorer as viable options. I suppose Firefox is. ;)
Email Address Blocking New spam controls allow you to block email addresses you positively don’t want to see messages from ever again. My ISP, roadrunner.com, has similar spam blocking filters for specific email addresses blocking in place, but it is limited after a certain number of blocks. So far, I am unable to tell whether there is a limit to the number of specific email addresses that can be blocked by a single Yahoo! Mail Beta account.
Unlimited Storage Yahoo! makes good on its promise of everlasting, unlimited storage for emails. With so many companies putting limitations on their unlimitedservices lately (here, I’m talking VirginMobile’s Broadband2Go plans, and AT&T’s retirement of their unlimited data plans for iPhone), it’s nice to see someone sticking to their guns. Sure, there’s a big difference in email storage and broadband data connections but good business is good business, no matter what’s for sale.
More Connections Similar to a feature Gmail has had in place for years, now you can view which of your contacts are currently online in a column located beneath your mailbox folders but you can also sign in to Facebook and have those contacts listed separately from your Yahoo! Contacts. Nice.
Improved Search The old search feature in Yahoo! Mail was laughable in its complete inability to find anything. Anything at all. The new search feature is actually useful, and works! Kudos, Yahoo! Mail Beta.
There’s a lot more under the hood, but I’ve only had a few hours to play with Yahoo!’s latest beta product. Hopefully I will soon find the legendary Preview button and if any of you give the new mail a try and discover something great that I haven’t noticed yet, I’d love to hear from you.
==== About the Author ====
Melonie McLaurin enjoys writing about gaming, technology, and social networking. She currently writes for Allied Satellite Tv