The Web's Most Useful Sites

Chart: Web Mail Services Compared

Modern Web-based e-mail gives you much of the functionality of Outlook, and you can access it from almost anywhere.

Click the icon below to view the comparison chart.

E-Mail Service Features Best features Bottom line
Winner Yahoo Mail Beta -Two- or three-pane views
-1GB storage
-Has mobile version
Can open and easily switch among multiple messages in the same pane. Yahoo's beta resembles traditional desktop e-mail programs, allowing you to sort mail by date or sender, resize fields, keep detailed contact information, scroll through messages with keyboard shortcuts, and create rules to sort messages. It's powerful and elegant, though slower than Gmail.
Runner-up Windows Live Mail Beta -Three-column, two-column, or three-pane views
-2GB storage
-Has mobile version
Safety bar at top of messages warns of phishing e-mail and blocks images from unknown senders. Microsoft's beta is feature-packed, with on-the-fly spelling checking, skins, and the ability to send and receive from multiple accounts. You can drag and drop as well as rely on old-school check boxes. Longtime Web mail users and novices will feel comfortable, but the banner ads and clumsy calendar integration seem dated.
Runner-up Gmail -Two-column view
-2.6GB storage
-Has mobile version
Can play MP3 audio attachments and open Excel spreadsheets. Gmail is lightning-quick, lets you chat with other online Gmail users, and integrates nicely with Google's calendar. But its limitations--the inability to add new folders, to open multiple messages in one window, to filter e-mail, and to right-click on anything--will surely frustrate power users.
Also-ran AOL Mail -Two-column view
-2GB storage
-No mobile version
You and 99 friends can get e-mail addresses at any available domain. AOL Mail lets you drag and drop messages and gives you a handy pull-down menu next to every message. But that's as far as the recent upgrade goes. The service lacks mail sorting rules and keyboard shortcuts, it loads interminably slowly, and messages open in external windows, creating clutter.
Also-ran Web2Mail Lite -One-column view
-Unspecified storage
-No mobile version
Can track when a Web site changes and send you an e-mail alert. Web2Mail Lite lets you check a POP3 account and send and receive mail, but beyond that the site lacks folders, drag-and-drop capability, or even an address book and a sent-item folder. It also has an abysmal spam filter.

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