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Yahoo Mail Exits Beta

As of yesterday, Yahoo's free Web-mail service no longer had a "beta" tag adorning its logo. The announcement came a bit over 23 (!) months after the start of Yahoo's public testing of the new mail interface.

I like two late changes to the service. Searching for old messages is now easier, since you can narrow your search by clicking on links at the right of the window. And in addition to instant-message chats with users of Yahoo or Microsoft's IM services, you can also chat with mobile-phone users over SMS.

But in other aspects, the new product still looks and acts like a beta release, with many of the problems I observed back in January.

* When you edit your mail filters (free accounts get only 15), the service issues the same lame warning it's been handing out since the start of the beta test:

We're still tweaking the Yahoo! Mail Filters option. Temporarily you'll need to access it through the Yahoo! Mail Classic interface. But, rest assured, any changes made will take effect once you've reloaded the Yahoo! Mail.

* It still shuts out Apple's Safari browser, shunting users of that program back to the old interface. To add to the annoyance, messages in my inbox are listed in reverse chronological order when this switcheroo happens. (The 3.0 beta release of Safari got through to the "final" version of Yahoo Mail this morning, but could not display any of the mail-options screens.)

* Yahoo's spam filters continue to be a bit of a joke, allowing obvious junk-mail--"ONLINE JOB OFFER," "LOTTERY RESULTS"--to sail through.

But enough from me. What do you think of Yahoo's Web-mail service now that it no longer has the b-word attached to its name?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 28, 2007; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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When I use Firefox, I use the "new" yahoo mail. I love the search option, and it works well and looks a lot like gmail in that regard. My yahoo messages are still listed in the correct chronological order (recent on top). I think it is crazy that yahoo mail does not work with Safari -- I have not upgraded to the beta 3.0 Safari -- it sounded a little buggy, so I was waiting a month or two. I agree with you on the so-called spam filters on yahoo. They are not good, but neither are the ones in Entourage, despite over 250 filters/rules I have set up. I also think yahoo needs to catch up with googlemail's really great chat feature. Gmail's is much easier to use.

Posted by: rjrjj | August 28, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I tried the beta version for a week. It was insanely slow and reminded me of those sites that overuse flash. I went back to "classic" with no regrets.

Posted by: dgc | August 28, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

It's generally a good interface, with easy-to-use basic functions like "mark read" and "mark unread". Drag-and-drop filing is also very handy.

My biggest complaint is that the tabs do no always work properly -- for example, I might open an image-heavy email in a tab, click the button to load the images, and go back to the inbox to view another mostly-text message from the preview pain, while the images load in the first email. When I go back to that first email in the tab, it has often changed to the second email I was just reading.

Not really a big deal, and I know it's reasonable of Yahoo! to assume people will read email either in the preview pane or in the tab, but not both -- it's just that this interface can't quite handle everything that it's supposed to.

Posted by: Tony | August 28, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Why is it that so many sites don't work well with Safari?

Is there something about Safari that makes it incompatible with sites that work on firefox and IE? Or is there something about the web coding that refuses to design sites to the open standards Safari suppoedly requires?

Posted by: ah | August 28, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

That's strange, my Yahoo mail appears to still be the beta version--at least that's what it says when I log in. I switched back to "classic" and then back to the "new" version (and had a heck of a time doing that, really had to hunt for a way to do it) and it still says beta.

Posted by: Frank S. | August 28, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Mine also still says "Beta".

Posted by: Bob | August 28, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I can't get into my Yahoo mail.

Posted by: Sue | August 28, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Not everyone has exited beta from Yahoo mail -- Yahoo is rolling it out gradually.

My biggest beef with Yahoo's webmail is the last point in the article -- the spam filters are a joke. I always have more spam than legitimate mail in my inbox. Unless that is fixed, Gmail gets my vote for best webmail, even with the smaller capacity.

Posted by: Pattie | August 28, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I had Oddpost and was switched to Yahoo during the buyout. I quickly realized you couldn't use it on Safari, so that was a draw back. Secondly, I had to keep switching back to "classic mode" to do anything. Big draw back! Then, recently I constantly had to 'verify' myself while using the program. I gave Yahoo 12 months to improve, and then dropped it all together. It just wasn't worth it. I have gmail, but after all the "collecting" they do, I want to bag that company also. I am giving Hushmail a try. But this post sounds like a good topic for an article, Rob. Is there a better free email service on the horizon?

Posted by: umm.huh | August 28, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Off Topic Question


I have noticed on some of WaPo's blogs, I can have a widget (i am assuming on my home page) to notify me when the blog has been updated. I would like this for your blog and the security one, as well.

Are these for any blog or just some?


Posted by: miniwanca | August 28, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I turned off the beta - I got annoyed with how many clicks it took me to get to an actual message. With classic, I can go from the homepage to a new message in one click. With the new version, it took me three - to mail, to the inbox, to the message.

Posted by: becky | August 28, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I tried the beta version once. That was enough for me. I switched back to "Classic" in less than five minutes. It's much easier to use and much faster. I rarely have a problem with spam in my inbox or real email in my bulkmail box. It happens, but why would anyone expect any filtering system to be perfect?

Posted by: huizhe | August 28, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

I admit I wasn't the biggest beta fan when I first tried it - which was a long time ago. But on a fast computer with a fast connection, it runs like a dream. You just need to adjust to it before you realise what a huge improvement it is.

Still waiting for mine to roll over from beta...

Posted by: Umang | August 28, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I have Safari 3 and it still tells me I have an unsupported browser! Blarg! A browser that passes the Acid test is unsupported? Web standard, people!

Posted by: Brendan West | August 29, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

ah said at 11:51 AM on Aug. 28, 2007:
|Why is it that so many sites don't work well with Safari?
|Is there something about Safari that makes it incompatible |with sites that work on firefox and IE? Or is there something |about the web coding that refuses to design sites to the open |standards Safari suppoedly requires?

Safari's engine is based on Konqueror, and somewhat different from Firefox's or IE's engine. Regardless, Safari passes the Acid2 test, and is actually the only major browser that does. Firefox 3 passes the test, but it's still in development. Microsoft has publicly said they don't much care about Web standards, and don't plan to try and pass the test.

But if everyone used the standards, all the sites wouldn't lock out certain browsers.

I really don't know why Safari isn't supported. Look at any other "Web 2.0" site out there: Google, Flickr (a Yahoo product!), they all work fine in Safari. Yahoo's just being dumb.

To see if your browser passes the test, head over here:

Posted by: Brendan West | August 29, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I didn't even try the Yahoo Mail beta, seeing it a friend's computer was enough to scare me away. It looked really slow and just had too many clicks necessary to accomplish a single task. Friends and family get my gmail address. It's fast, the ads are unobstrusive (and sometimes head-scratchingly weird), and most importantly, it doesn't break my browser (like a certain AOL created POS that I could mention).

Posted by: Gmail Forever | August 29, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

It just seems incredibly slow to me, even though I have 1GB RAM. I doubt it'd even work at all on a dialup connection. There's also a lot more clicking involved as compared with "classic version".

Posted by: webjockey | August 29, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I think the beta works great. The spam filter works with about 99% accuracy for me and so I go to the beta to clear all that stuff out(after a quick review, and I would note that you don't have to see the disgusting images some of the spammers send you) with a single click before downloading the balance to my Outlook Express (which I use because I don't want to fool with moving address books and folders over to the new service).

Posted by: Stan the man | August 29, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I have had horrible problems with beta not being able to access the server for long periods, making me unable to get new mail or read the ones I've already received. I've used it on several computers and internet connections, so it's not a problem on my end. It does seem worse during business hours. Classic doesn't seem to have the same issue, though I do wish it had the features of beta.

Posted by: frustrated yahooer | August 29, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I have 2 issues with Yahoo mail. One the spam is unbelievable for a address that I never use. The second only applies to the beta. You have the option to change the reply-to address in the options, but this only works from the classic interface. The new, and still beta for me, has the yahoo as the reply to address no matter what I have setup in my options. I don't expect the spam issue to ever go away, but if they can fix the the reply to issue I might come back to Yahoo mail.

Posted by: Gary | August 29, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I tried the beta interface briefly when it was first introduced, but did not like it then. It seemed slower than the classic interface for me, plus I think I am just resistant to change (at least when I like the current option). I may try the newer interface again to give it a chance (when not using my POP client). Regarding spam, I am surprised to hear so many comments saying Yahoo's spam filters (I assume you mean Bulk Mail?) is bad. I have had a great experience with it since turning it on several years ago. I receive virtually zero spam in my Thunderbird client - it all goes into Bulk Mail. Perhaps it works better for me since I pay for Yahoo Mail Plus (for POP access)?

Posted by: Pete | August 29, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I like the beta version, but I object to constantly having to sign in again. It does not allow me to change my password preferences in order to lengthen my user time. Sometimes it is a matter of only a minute or two before I have to sign in again. Also, my Yahoo service might have screwed up my Outlook 2000, which has quit downloading messages from Yahoo.

Posted by: Jerry | August 29, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I love Yahoo mail, no matter what form it's in. I loved the Oddpost mail and their people, so maybe they should keep it in beta all the time since no matter how you try to stabilize it, someone will always have a problem with it. I've never had any major problems with it. If you're not sure, try Lot's of storage and works well, too.

Posted by: buzzsaw | August 29, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The complaints about spam in Yahoo accounts puzzle me. I have never seen spam in Yahoo mail while my gmail accounts are flooded with spam. My comcast accounts had no spam while I ran Norton, but since I stitched to AVG they get an occasional unwelcome ad.
I returned to classic Yahoo because the type size in the beta was maddeningly small.

Posted by: suoheert | August 29, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

why oh why can you not create subfolders within folders. I have been requesting this forever and I have to believe that there are others out there that want this.

If I have a SPORT folder, I would like to create subfolders within that "SOCCER", "TENNIS", etc etc. Or even for my work related stuff.

Am i seriously the only one that wants this?

Posted by: paulette | August 30, 2007 4:21 AM | Report abuse

Paulette- you are definitely not the only one who wants sub-folders. That would be super useful and is def. necessary when trying to organize multi-gigabytes of emails.

That and/or they need to seriously enhance the search capabilities. Am I missing something or is there no way to get to an "advanced search" kind of thing where I can specify to:, from: or other details? 2 gigs of mail and I'm supposed to come up with a unique phrase to find one?

Overall, though, I do like it. I think it's an improvement and I especially like the new calendar functions they've been integrating. Very snappy.

If only Yahoo mobile worked on Treos, it'd be perfect...

Posted by: Bob | August 30, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Paulette - THAT'S the reason (well, one of them) that I prefer GMail to Yahoo!, only one level of directories (folders). GMail doesn't offer more, either, but it does swap "labels" for "folders". The difference is that a single email may have multiple labels, say SPORTS _and_ TENNIS.

It makes for a more cumbersome GUI than a directory structure, but it also allows for interconnections, for a TENNIS message to also be filed under JOE and ST PAUL (if your boyfriend lives in the Twin Cities, for example). If a directory structure looks like a tree, what do you call it when branches merge? I suggest calling it a "reticulum" (since the word "net" gets overused on the WWW) would do.

Posted by: GMailer | August 30, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Rob, I have an Earthlink account, gmail and three on yahoo. I do not see spam on yahoo or gmail or earthlink. I used to do HotMail but was spammed to death. Only Earthlink and HotMail did I have an obvious male handle, I do not like dealing with yahoo's start page when switching boxes now but overall I like Yahoo th best for it's relative simplicity as gmail is cluttered to say the least

Posted by: neil holbrook | August 30, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Yahoo Mail is nice, I have used it for over several years but I noticed your artice did not mention that Yahoo is using Snapfish to warehouse our pictures. If you do not order prints from them, you will lose your pictures. One thing is for sure is that Yahoo will have more space o their servers....what a way to treat your customers!

Posted by: Nik Wms | September 2, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

my yahoomail client gets exit quickly after the login. After upgrading this problem arises. please help me to get rid off this problem. PLease send answers to as my yahoo mail client disappears within fraction of seconds.

Posted by: Prabu RM. | October 25, 2007 1:04 AM | Report abuse

I liked Yahoo Mail Beta, but when the Beta disappeared, the mail app would much-too-often freeze up. I have switched back to Classic Mail until they clean up their act.

This, after a two-year beta test. Sheesh!

Posted by: DanP | November 8, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

When trying to use the new edition of Yahoo mail, I was frozen into the messages box. For close to 24 hours I could not get out and could not display the message listed.
James in the Yahoo Mail Groups gave a soluton. The sollution did not make it possible to make the new mail to be used but made it possible for me to read my mail in the old Yahoo mail. James showed how to rewrite the address for the old email and switch back that way each time. My new email is still frozen and I just switch as a normal way to access the old email.
If anyone is unable to get out of the new email and cannot get into the old email, I suggest you look up James' information in Mail Groups.
If you need help and can't find James' statements, send an email to I could try to explain it to you but it is a little complicated. I had no choice but to use it since I was permanently stuck in the new Yahoo email service. Hope for you the best

Posted by: elder_binah | November 19, 2007 1:06 AM | Report abuse

i am really upset with new mail set up how do i get classic back? FRUSTRATED IN CHICAGO!

Posted by: | November 21, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

the new Beta Is hell of a lousy service. The mails just freeze. I can read them, but cant reply or forward them. Moreover, I cant seem to be able to switch back to classic version either. Just let me know if anyone has an ide

Posted by: Avanish Kant | November 22, 2007 6:44 AM | Report abuse

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