Yahoo! Mail

Yahoo Mail

Screenshot of Yahoo! Mail inbox
Type of site
Available in Multilingual (27)
Owner Yahoo
Created by Yahoo
Commercial Yes
Registration Required
Users 281 million (December 2012)[1]
Launched October 8, 1997 (1997-10-08)[2]
Current status Online
Content license

Yahoo Mail is a web-based email service offered by the American company Yahoo!. The service is free for personal use, and paid-for business email plans are available.[3] It was launched in 1997,[4] and, according to comScore, was the third-largest web-based email service with 281 million users as of December 2011.[1]

As many as three web interfaces were available at any given date. The traditional "Yahoo Mail Classic" preserved the availability of their original 1997 interface until July 2013 in North America. A 2005 version included a new Ajax interface, drag-and-drop, improved search, keyboard shortcuts, address auto-completion and tabs. However other features were removed, such as column widths and one click delete-move-to-next. In October 2010, Yahoo released a beta version of Yahoo Mail[5] that included improvements to performance, search and Facebook integration.[6] In May 2011 it became the default interface.[7] Their current Webmail interface was introduced during 2012. Yahoo Mail had unlimited storage from March 27, 2007 until October 8, 2013.


The service comes in two configurations, free and business. Features include:

Free version


Users from countries where there is a web browser access restriction can get around it by using software that simulates a POP3 server to which the email application connects, such as YPOPs! and FreePOPs.

Another way of getting POP3 access without signing up for the paid mail plans is via Yahoo! Delivers, which sends the user promotional email messages. According to the Yahoo! Mail help pages,[12] "Yahoo! offers POP access to Yahoo! Mail as a free feature exclusively for Yahoo! Delivers members". However, this applies only to users of Canadian[12][13] Yahoo Mail with "" extension of their mail.

(See the above '2012 release' section for a further way to set up POP access for North American accounts.)

As of October 2013, Yahoo provides paid subscribers POP3 access and forwarding.[14]


Yahoo! Business Email is a combination of all of their email services with 10 distinct accounts each with the same features of the plus version and personalized domain name and email address. Accounts can be managed by an administrator. There is a $25 set-up fee and $9.99 monthly fee.


Yahoo made a deal with the online communications company Four11 for co-branded white pages. Marvin Gavin, who worked at Four11 as director of international business development said, "We always had a bias about being acquired by Yahoo. They were more entrepreneurial than Microsoft. We had a great cultural fit it made a lot of sense." The real point in acquiring Four11 was the company's Rocketmail webmail service, launched in 1997. In the end, Yahoo! acquired Four11 for $96 million. Yahoo announced the acquisition[15] on October 8, 1997, close to the time that Yahoo! Mail was launched.[16] Yahoo! chose acquisition rather than internal platform development because, as Healy said, "Hotmail was growing at thousands and thousands users per week. We did an analysis. For us to build, it would have taken four to six months, and by then, so many users would have taken an email account. The speed of the market was critical."

The transition to Yahoo Mail was not easy for many Rocketmail users.[17] Soon after, on March 21, 2002, Yahoo! eliminated free software client access and introduced the $29.99 per year Mail Forwarding Service.[18] Mary Osako, a Yahoo Spokeswoman, told CNET, "For-pay services on Yahoo!, originally launched in February 1999, have experienced great acceptance from our base of active registered users, and we expect this adoption to continue to grow."

During the summer of 2002, the Yahoo network was gradually redesigned. On July 2, the company website was redesigned and it was announced that Yahoo Mail and other services would also change.[19] Along with this new design, new features were to be implemented, including drop-down menus in DHTML and different category tabs, and a new user-customizable color scheme.

In November of the same year, Yahoo launched another paid service: Yahoo Mail Plus.[20] Yahoo Mail Plus offered a number of additional features, including:

The launch of Yahoo Mail Plus is part of Yahoo's strategic initiative to offer premium services that deliver innovative, reliable and relevant services to consumers....In just five years, Yahoo Mail has grown from one million to tens of millions of users, illustrating how consumers have made e-mail an essential part of their daily lives. Through Yahoo! Mail Plus, Yahoo! continues to demonstrate leadership and innovation by offering consumers the industry's most complete and powerful e-mail solution.
Geoff Ralston, senior vice president, Yahoo! Network Services[20]

On April 1, 2004, Google announced its Gmail service with 1 gigabyte of storage. Gmail's invitation-only accounts kept the other webmail services at the forefront. Most major webmail providers, including Yahoo Mail, increased their mailbox storage in response. Yahoo! was the first to announce 100 MB of storage for basic accounts and 2 GB of storage for premium users.[21] Determined to not lose customers, Yahoo! Mail then countered Hotmail and Google by increasing its free storage quota to 1 GB, before eventually allowing unlimited storage.

On July 9, 2004, Yahoo acquired Oddpost, a webmail service that simulated a desktop email client. Oddpost had features such as drag-and-drop support, right-click menus, RSS feeds, a preview pane and increased speed, using email caching to shorten response time. Many were incorporated into an updated Yahoo Mail service.[22]

On September 17, 2010 Yahoo showed off a new Mail program to reporters.[23][24]

2011 release

Screenshot of the 2011 version of Yahoo! Mail

Codenamed "Minty", the 2011 release was announced on September 16, 2010.[25] It included a new interface, enhanced performance, improved Facebook and Twitter integration, the ability to watch YouTube videos straight from email and improved search.[26] Public beta began on October 26, 2010.[27] In May 2011 the new Yahoo! Mail became the default interface.[7]

As the new interface became mandatory for users, some users of Yahoo Mail reported slow typing speeds, contradicting Yahoo's claims of "2x" faster performance. Yahoo offered no resolution to the problem as of September 12, 2011. Users also missed the ability to paste textual email addresses into the sender box. The new version disables the use of the "secondary" addresses provided in the previous version. The new interface overrides the browser's right mouse button (e.g., making functions such as opening mails in new tab windows unavailable).

2013 release

A 2013 redesign of the site removed several features such as simultaneously opening multiple emails in tabs, sorting by sender name, and dragging mails to folders.[28][29] The new email interface was geared to give a good user-experience for owners of hand-held devices, but was criticised for having an inferior desktop interface design. Many users objected to the unannounced nature of the changes, with one hundred thousand voting and almost ten thousand commenting on an online post asking Yahoo to bring back Mail tabs.[30] The redesign was accompanied by a multi-week problem whereby an unknown number of users were unable to access their accounts.[31]

In December 2013 Yahoo Mail suffered a major outage where approximately one million users, 1% of the site's users, could not access their emails for several days. Mayer publicly apologized to the site's users.[32][32][33][34][35]

In January 2014 an undisclosed number of usernames and passwords were disclosed after a security breach that Yahoo believed had occurred through a third-party website. Yahoo contacted affected users and requested that passwords be changed.[36]

2015 release

Yahoo revamped the mail service with a "more subtle" redesign in 2015, improving mobile features and introducing the Yahoo Account Key, a smartphone-based replacement for password logins.[37]

Spam policy

Yahoo Mail is often used by spammers to provide a "remove me" email address. More often than not, these addresses are used to verify the recipient's address—thus opening the door for more spam.

However, Yahoo does not tolerate this practice. It terminates accounts connected with spam-related activities without warning, and spammers lose access to any other Yahoo services connected with their ID under the Terms of Service. Additionally, Yahoo! stresses that its servers are based in California, and any spam-related activity that uses its servers could potentially violate that state's anti-spam laws.[38][39]

In February 2006, Yahoo announced its decision (along with AOL) to give some organizations the option to "certify" mail, by paying up to one cent for each outgoing message, allowing the mail in question to bypass inbound spam filters.[40]

In April 2011, Yahoo Mail began rejecting spam reports that involve sending a copy of the spam with full headers to Yahoo's abuse department via the email address abuse (at), and the response email for those that did was to use a form instead. However, the requirement to use a form is prohibited by several Internet RFCs, and the availability of abuse (at) (in this case abuse (at) is required by the Invariants clause of RFC 2142 because the domain has a mail server and MX record. Yahoo's claim was that its "standard" was "better" than the Internet standards referred to. Aside from this, there is currently no working form through which users can report spam or misuse of the Yahoo! email service.


In 2002, in order to prevent abuse, Yahoo Mail had filters that changed certain words (that could trigger unwanted Javascript events) and word fragments into other words. "Mocha" was changed to "espresso", "expression" became "statement", and perhaps most damaging, "eval" (short for "evaluation") became "review". The widespread unintended effects of this can be seen by using search engines to find such nonsensical terms as "prreviewent" (prevalent), "reviewuation" (evaluation) and "medireview" (medieval).

When asked about these changes, Yahoo explained that the changed words were common terms used in Web scripting, and were blacklisted to prevent hackers from sending damaging commands via the program's HTML function. Starting before February 7, 2006, Yahoo Mail ended the practice and began to prefix an "_" (underscore) to certain suspicious words and word fragments.


Incoming mail to Yahoo addresses can be subjected to deferred delivery as part of Yahoo's incoming spam controls. This can delay delivery of mail sent to Yahoo addresses without the sender or recipients being aware of it. The deferral is typically of short duration, but may extend to several hours. Yahoo does not specifically document this policy in detail, although some information is available.[41][42]


Shi Tao arrest

In 2004, Yahoo's Hong Kong office provided technical information to the Chinese authorities about the account of journalist Shi Tao, who was subsequently sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for "leaking state secrets".[43] Yahoo was criticized by Reporters Without Borders for acting as a "police informant" to increase its profits.[44] In August 2007, the United States Congress began an investigation into Yahoo's handling of the case.[45] Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang testified before Congress.[46] On November 6, 2007, the congressional panel criticized Yahoo! for not giving full details to the House Foreign Affairs Committee the previous year, stating it had been "at best inexcusably negligent" and at worst "deceptive";[47] Representative Tom Lantos described its executives as moral "pygmies".[48] Yang responded that Yahoo! no longer controlled its Chinese operations and was collaborating with human rights groups to formulate ethical code for technology companies.[49]

In a February 2006 hearing, Yahoo executives swore that they had no information about the investigation. Some months later, it was discovered that the document provided to Yahoo China on April 22, 2004 by the Beijing State Security Bureau stated, "Your office is in possession of the following items relating to a case of suspected illegal provision of state secrets to foreign entities."[50]

On November 13, 2007, Yahoo settled with Shi for an undisclosed sum. As of May 2011, Shi remained in prison. Shi was released in September 2013.

Username bans

On February 20, 2006, it was revealed that Yahoo Mail was banning the word "Allah" in email usernames, both separately and as part of a user name such as linda.callahan.[51] Shortly after the news of the ban, it was lifted on February 23, 2006. Along with this action, Yahoo! also made the following statement:[52]

We continuously evaluate abuse patterns in registration usernames to help prevent spam, fraud and other inappropriate behavior. A small number of people registered for IDs using specific terms with the sole purpose of promoting hate, and then used those IDs to post content that was harmful or threatening to others, thus violating Yahoo!'s Terms of Service.

'Allah' was one word being used for these purposes, with instances tied to defamatory language. We took steps to help protect our users by prohibiting use of the term in Yahoo usernames. We recently re-evaluated the term 'Allah' and users can now register for IDs with this word because it is no longer a significant target for abuse. We regularly evaluate this type of activity and will continue to make adjustments to our registration process to help foster a positive customer experience.


Exploit of Yahoo Mail was sold for $700 by an Egyptian hacker that allowed hijackers to hack Yahoo! Mail user accounts and redirect users to a malicious website. The attack used cross-site scripting that let hackers steal cookies.[53][54][55] In January 2013, hacker and security researcher Shahin Ramezany pointed out another DOM-based XSS loophole that placed 400 million users at risk.[56]

Phishing attack

From 2007, Yahoo provided major New Zealand Telecom's email service, which came under criticism in early 2013 following a spam and phishing attack described as the biggest to have ever hit the country.[57] Telecom and Yahoo! automatically reset "about 60,000" users' passwords.[58] In April, Telecom announced that despite the issue, it would keep Yahoo! on as an email provider.[59]

China Yahoo! Mail closedown

On 18 April 2013, China Yahoo Mail officially announced its shutdown.[60][61] After that, all mails, contacts and account settings would be deleted and unavailable unless one of the migration options is taken.

Users could migrate to Yahoo Mail in the United States. However, customers whose account was originally registered in Yahoo Mail but migrated to China Yahoo! Mail after the China Yahoo takeover by Alibaba were unable to register a Yahoo! Mail account with the same username.[62]


NNFMP is an internal protocol not recognized by IANA or RFCs. Yahoo uses this protocol to internally route email traffic across their network. The acronym stands for "Newman No-Frills Mail Protocol".[63] It is a simple, high-performance protocol comparable to QMTP. However, Yahoo does not officially recognize its use.[64][65]

Mobile App

Yahoo Mail! Mobile app serves the features of Yahoo Mail in mobiles. Its android version includes several features including reply a message by opening notification and separately archiving, deleting and starring notifications. It is available in several languages including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Kannada.[66]

See also


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  66. From Tamil to Bengali, Yahoo Mail android app gets seven new Indian languages - Economic Times
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