Free Alternatives to AOL

I’m often asked if there are other online services to use besides AOL, but still have the same ease of use. To help summarize my response, I’ve put together a small list of alternative services which are free that are similar or better than the AOL equivalent.

AOL Service Alternative Services
Instant Messaging Yahoo Messenger, Gtalk, Pidgin, Trillian
Chat Rooms Yahoo Chat, IRC, Pidgin
E-Mail Mozilla Thunderbird, Gmail, Yahoo, Live (MSN)
Web Browsing Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Flock, Internet Explorer 7
Message Boards Topix, Yahoo Message Boards, Independent Forums*
Profiles MySpace, Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn, Bebo, Friendster, Blogger
Custom Toolbar Mozilla Firefox Toolbar, Aqua Dock, Windows Quick Launch
Video YouTube, Joost, Metacafe, Yahoo Video
Anti-Virus Avira, AVG, Avast!, ClamAV
Firewall Comodo Firewall, Zone Alarm, Windows Firewall
Pictures Flickr, Webshots, Photobucket, Slide
Address Book Plaxo, Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook
Favorite Places, Mozilla Firefox
Proxy/Anonymity Tor, Free Proxies**
Search Google
Web Acceleration Google Web Accelerator
Blogging/Journals WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, Vox
Keywords OpenDNS***
Anti-Phishing OpenDNS, Microsoft IE7, Mozilla Firefox
Finance Google Finance, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money
Bill Pay, Personal Finance Management Mint, Wesabe, Yodlee
RSS Feed Services Google Reader, MyYahoo, Bloglines, NewsGator
Instant Messaging Pidgin, Meebo, Gtalk, Yahoo Messenger

* Independent Forums – There are thousands of online discussion Web sites available that talk about what you want to talk about. Just do a Google search for “<subject> forums.” Example: “Boating Forums.”
** Free Proxies — There are thousands of free proxy addresses out there that conceal your online identity. Just Google for “Free Proxies” to get started.
*** Open DNS — OpenDNS allows you to configure specific shortcuts which function like AOL Keywords. For example, “yahoo” to make you go directly to “” See?

There are many more alternatives, including software alternatives. The purpose of this is to help liberate users so they can make educated choices as to their online experience. If you know of more alternatives that are worthy of being added to this list, please leave a comment.Feel free to share this page with your friends and family; as it will help all of you get the most out of your online experience!


(Disclaimer: “AOL,” “AIM,” and any additional “AOL” brands are trademarks belonging to AOL LLC. This Web site is not affiliated with AOL. To learn more about AOL’s services, visit