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Verizon to Drop Email Service

If Verizon is your ISP, and you use a email address, we have some bad news: Verizon has announced that it’s shutting down its email business. This move may affect more than 1100 TidBITS and Take Control readers. (Joe Kissell addressed a number of the issues raised by Verizon’s move in “FlippedBITS: Misconceptions about Changing Email Addresses,” 4 March 2014.)

Verizon hasn’t specified exactly when the shutdown will happen, but the good news is that you will be able to keep your email address.

Now for some potentially bad news: if you decide to keep your Verizon email address, you’ll have to use it with the free AOL Mail service. Verizon purchased AOL in 2015 in what was thought to be strictly a content play, but now it looks as though Verizon had some other ideas in mind as well (see “Verizon to Buy AOL,” 12 May 2015). The upside if this approach is that Verizon will transfer your email messages, contacts, and calendars automatically.

If you decide to switch to another email host, you’ll have until the shutdown date to migrate your email and other data to your new address. Verizon says that when you log into, you should see an “Email service notice” with further information and instructions. Verizon also says that it will post the shutdown date there.

I recommend transferring your existing email address to AOL Mail, even if you don’t plan to use it. That way, even if you switch providers, you can still have AOL Mail forward any stray messages to your new address. There are a couple of ways to do this: Techwalla explains how to set up forwarding from AOL, while the Houston Chronicle describes a method that takes advantage of Gmail’s POP3 import to download mail directly from AOL. This latter method should also work with most other email providers.

If you’re shopping for a new email service, we can offer a few suggestions. Google’s Gmail is an obvious choice, and it’s TidBITS publisher Adam Engst’s preference. Gmail is free and offers innovative features, but it’s designed to be used via its Web interface or native iOS apps. Or, you can be like Adam and use Mailplane, which wraps the Gmail Web interface in a native Mac app (see “Zen and the Art of Gmail, Part 4: Mailplane,” 16 March 2011). If you want to access Gmail via Apple Mail or another standard IMAP client, you may run into usage quirks, since Google bolted on Gmail’s IMAP support afterward.

Apple’s iCloud email is another obvious choice, though it’s not as feature-rich as Gmail. Plus, if storing your mail in iCloud pushes you over the 5 GB of storage space that you get for free, you’ll need to pay Apple for more. However, iCloud email is second to none in terms of integration with Apple devices and can be used on other platforms. Our own Michael Cohen has been using it as his primary email account since the days of iTools.

Several other TidBITS contributors and I use FastMail, which is a paid service, but it works well with Apple Mail, offers excellent customer support, and lets you use your own domain name. FastMail is the only non-Apple email provider I’m aware of that offers IMAP push email on iOS. FastMail’s spam filtering isn’t as good as Gmail’s, but I’ve found that C-Command Software’s SpamSieve does a fantastic job. (TidBITS members receive a 20 percent discount on SpamSieve.)

The painful part of any email migration is moving existing messages from your old account to the new one. Gmail and FastMail both offer instructions on how to do this. You can also use Apple Mail to transfer mail between accounts manually by copying messages from a mailbox in one IMAP account to another mailbox in a different IMAP account. We’ve found that such transfers usually work fine for a relatively small number of messages, but trying to do a complete migration that way may require a lot of babysitting, restarting, and verification work.

Email is a complex topic, so if you have questions that you’d like us to cover more in-depth in future articles, let us know in the comments!

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