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Yahoo Mail Plus review: Yahoo Mail Plus

Yahoo Mail Plus

Daniel Tynan
4 min read
Review summary
As the old Avis Rent-a-Car slogan goes, being No. 2 makes Yahoo Mail try harder. The free Web mail service has announced enhancements to its paid services, called Yahoo Mail Plus, that give you more room for your mail and add a raft of new features. For about $30 a year, you can get 25MB of storage; pay more money, and you'll get even more space to stash your mail. You also get the ability to check up to 10 standard POP mail accounts from a single in-box, add custom filters, spruce up the look of your messages, and much more. If the free Yahoo Mail's 4MB storage limit is making you chafe, an upgrade is a smart move. If not, there's no reason to switch from the free service; you'll still get Yahoo's spam filtering and a bigger standard storage offering than from Hotmail. Setting up Yahoo Mail Plus is a simple process. First, create a free Yahoo ID by filling out a form, then click a link to purchase Yahoo Mail Plus and give your credit card and contact information. Unlike with Hotmail, you don't have to fight off screens offering to send you newsletters and product information when you sign up for Plus. Even better, you can go to your mail login page (mail.yahoo.com) without having to navigate Yahoo's home page.
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You can check external POP accounts and funnel the mail to your Yahoo in-box; Yahoo Mail Plus even color-codes the messages to tell you where each one came from.
Though a tad cluttered, Yahoo Mail's interface will look quite familiar to anyone who's ever used a Web mail program, with folders on the left and your in-box on the right. Folders containing new mail are listed in boldface, with the number of new messages displayed in brackets. Click tabs across the top to reach your address book, a calendar you can use for simple group scheduling, and a notepad. You can tweak settings via a Mail Options link in the upper right and refresh your in-box by clicking the Check Mail button on the left--a simple yet useful feature that Hotmail and others leave out. It's not fancy, but it works. Yahoo Mail Plus offers so many features, you might mistake it for a standalone mail program. You can buy up to 25MB, 50MB, or 100MB of storage for $30, $40, or $60 annually. Mail Plus also lets you access up to 10 external mailboxes, including standard POP3 mail accounts, and pick which return address you want to use on your replies. Yahoo even color-codes mail from each account, so you know at a glance which address it was sent to (though it won't let you sort mail by account). Conversely, you can pick up your Yahoo mail via your favorite e-mail client, such as Outlook Express or Eudora. Hotmail also offers POP3 mail retrieval, but its tools aren't as slick as Yahoo's.
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Want to take your Yahoo mail on the road? The Plus service lets you archive messages to a ZIP file on your hard drive so that you can back them up and read them offline.
Yahoo provides several tools for fighting spam, including a newly improved SpamGuard service that automatically shuffles junk to a bulk mail folder and lets you turn off HTML images in incoming mail (so you don't have to see graphic porn e-mail). We tested SpamGuard for a week, using a longtime Yahoo address, and it caught more than 90 percent of the spam coming into our Yahoo account. (Hotmail also has a built-in spam filter, but it didn't work nearly as well in our admittedly brief tests.) Unfortunately, Yahoo can't filter POP3 mail, so all of your other accounts will still fill your in-box with spam. You can also create a blacklist of up to 200 addresses from which you refuse to accept mail, or you may write your own mail filters to route messages to a particular folder. But Yahoo Mail Plus lacks Hotmail's whitelist feature, which lets mail from approved senders pass through the filters.
But wait, there's more. Want to read your mail offline? You can archive messages to a ZIP file on your hard disk with a few clicks. Feel an uncontrollable urge to dress up your messages with background stationery and emoticons? You can do that, too. Yahoo also offers a basic calendar that lets you share your schedule with others across the Web and can send reminders to your in-box or mobile phone. The service isn't a match for a standalone mail program such as Outlook Express (OE)--for example, its filtering tools are less sophisticated, and OE doesn't have a storage limitation or display banner ads--but it comes pretty close. When you're getting something free, you don't expect a lot of support options, and that's fine. But when you pay--up to a fairly substantial $60 per year--the company had better play, and Yahoo is barely in the game. We could not find a single phone number on any of Yahoo's support pages, and the e-mail feedback form sits three levels deep.
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Yes, Virginia, you can send e-mail to Yahoo support, but the company hides this option in a feedback form buried three levels deep on the support pages.
After an hour of Web searching, we managed to dig up a support phone number (in the 408 area code). We called and were put on hold for almost 15 minutes. That's bad enough for toll-free support; it's completely unacceptable for a toll call. Then the support tech couldn't verify our account information and wouldn't help us. We also sent questions to Yahoo via the feedback form and, in Yahoo's one saving grace, received a helpful response within about 12 hours.
Still, Yahoo's limited support is better than Hotmail's, in which there's no phone support at all and an e-mail feedback form that's even harder to find than Yahoo's, even when you buy more storage.

Yahoo Mail Plus

Score Breakdown

Setup 9Features 9Performance 0Support 4