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You can download AOL 9.7 now by going to Discover AOL or simply click on the screen shot below.




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AOL 9.5!

Posted Feb 12th 2009 2:40PM by Frank Keeney
Filed under: AOL 9.5
22 Comments


AOL Launches a New Version of its Most Popular Desktop Software

Enhanced Software Integrates Tabbed Browsing into "Classic" AOL Experience

AOL today launched the latest version of its classic software, AOL 9.5, designed to enhance the user experience with new tabbed browsing and a revised user interface. AOL 9.5 represents an updated version of AOL's most popular all-in-one downloadable software, used by more than 28.6 million people on broadband and dial-up connections every day.

Key benefits of using the new software include:

  • All-in-one, easy-to-use experience: AOL 9.5 puts everything users want at their fingertips – a Web browser, mail, messaging and content.
  • New tabbed browsing: Users can easily open and manage multiple windows. Tabs let you keep several sites all open at once without cluttering your screen, and there's no need to use a separate search engine because AOL Search, enhanced by Google™, is always on the top of your screen.
  • Integrated AIM: AIM® is built-in -- so you can see which of your buddies are online and instantly chat, share pictures and more.

AOL 9.5 Fast Facts

What is it?
The latest version of AOL's classic software, designed to offer users a comfortable, familiar experience with enhanced features and functionality.
What's new?
Tabbed browsing.
Who is using it?
According to ComScore, more than 28.6 million people use AOL's downloadable software every day.


You can download AOL 9.5 now by going to the Discover AOL (or simply click on the screen shot).

System requirements for AOL 9.5
  • Windows Vista or Windows XP
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher
  • 166 MHz Pentium-class processor or higher
  • 128MB RAM, 460MB free disk space
  • 28.8 Kbps or faster modem, or other Internet connection



I just wanted to drop in on the AOL Desktop blog to let everyone know that the AOL Mac team has released AIM for Mac 1.0 and AOL Desktop for Mac 1.5. Almost all my Windows friends have a buddy or family member who's on the Mac, so feel free to spread the word.

You can get a copy of AIM for Mac 1.0 by visiting AIM.com (you can also click the AIM for Mac screen shot).

AIM for Mac 1.0

If you're one of those users who is thinking of moving over to the Mac, AOL's got you covered.

AOL Desktop for Mac 1.5 was released on Monday, December 15. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here or on the Mac@AOL Blog.

thanks!
Lee Givens
AOL Mac/iPhone Product Lead

You know when you use something over and over, and sometimes you forget how useful it is because it's just part of your daily routine? For me, over the last month or so, I've been using a little icon in middle of the Desktop Toolbar. It was titled "Elections 08" and it took me directly to election news coverage. I used it all the time.

As I've stated in previous posts, I hate extra clicks -- and unless there happened to be an election link on the Welcome Screen, it would take me couple clicks to get to the Election page. A couple of clicks would mean that I probably wouldn't go. So, when I first saw that Elections promotional spot I was thrilled. Not only could I get to Elections in one click, but that little icon was also located in an incredibly convenient place. It served as a daily reminder to get the latest updates. Every day it was like "oh, look – there's that election icon," and I would remember to check out what wacky antics the politicians were up to. In fact, now that it's gone, I kind of miss it. That promotional spot turned me into an election junkie and now I'm in withdrawal. Did you notice I hadn't posted a blog in a few weeks? How am I going to procrastinate now?

From what I've heard, that promotional spot is primarily used to inform people about AOL coverage of timely events. Before the Elections, it was used to promote the Emmys, Olympics, Fall TV, among others. There's going to be one coming up for Thanksgiving which will be a handy reminder for things like finding recipes before the holidays (which already reminds me, I have to make a side dish...)

Now, it's your turn -- what did you think? Did you like it? Hate it? Use it? What do you need a handy reminder about? What would you like to see promoted there?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Keywords. Ahhh, I love Keywords. Since I'm lazy, it should come as no surprise that I love the one-click ease of Keywords. Keywords were actually a big reason why I was a reluctant adopter when it came to using AOL Desktop. I had heard they were no longer available.

Luckily that is not the case. In fact, I like the version of Keywords in AOL 10.1 better than using AOL 9.1. Previously, using AOL 9.1, if I didn't know the exact Keyword I got nowhere. Little details made a huge difference -- especially if I didn't know how to spell the Keyword. These limitations defeated the purposed of using the Keyword shortcut entirely. On top of that, I'm a glutton for punishment. So if I had a Keyword wrong, I would become obsessed typing Control + K and then trying various combinations of letters and words to figure out exactly what it would take to get to the Web site I wanted. The ironic thing is that if I had just used Search to begin with, I'd have saved a LOT more time and clicks.

This is what's nice about the Desktop version of Keywords. Using Keywords takes you to a Search page. If a Keyword exists, you'll find that link up top. However, if you misspell the Keyword (that'd be me) or don't have it exactly right (that'd be me too), it still gives you all the relevant results.

So yes, the old Keywords were convenient because you got to your destination in one-click IF you had your Keyword exactly right. Now I have an extra click when I use Keywords since I get the Search results first, but I also have a handy safety net if I don't know what I'm doing -- which, as I have noted many times, is more often than not.

P.S. -- I heard rumors that they will soon be doing beta testing for the next version of Desktop, so more on that coming soon! When it comes out, I'll take a quick look and let you know. Also, if you're interested, you can join the beta group at http://beta.aol.com.

Talk to you soon

I understand that Desktop (AOL v. 10.1) takes some getting used to. For example, I still can't get used to the missing "Write" button in the upper left corner. I can also get how people might want to easily go back to 9.1 if Desktop isn't the right experience for them (for example, some recent comments on my last blog).

I mentioned this in one of my earlier posts and it seems relevant to bring it up again. When I downloaded Desktop, I was thrilled to see the 9.1 icon was still on my desktop and system taskbar. In my previous experience downloading new versions of AOL, the new version would replace the old one. Now, I have access to both. And just between us, I do go back and use 9.1 on occasion. When I find something new in Desktop, I go back to 9.1 to see what the alternative was in the old version. What's really nice is nothing has changed with my 9.1. All my favorites, all my email, all my folders and all my customizations are still the same in 9.1, with the exception of any email I read or sent while in 10.1. So check your system desktop or toolbar to see if 9.1 is still there. It won't be there if you uninstalled AOL 9.1 – if that's the case, you can download and reinstall it here: http://daol.aol.com/software.

Even after all my insightful, helpful, and witty (and obviously quite modest) blog entries, if you are still not sure which version is right for you, check out http://daol.aol.com/software/upgrade/.

Having said all that, the more I use Desktop, the more I like it. The next generation of Web users seem to be all about using some of the functionalities Desktop incorporates, so I feel pretty savvy using things like the multiple browser tabs and the nifty minimize feature. More new features to come!

We miss you Laura! Meanwhile, thanks for the comment regarding Favorites. The running-out-of-room on the carousel was an issue I had with 9.1 – I don't have it with Desktop because of the "More" option, so that's nice.

My newest Desktop discovery is the Mail Search feature. When first searching for a term in my Mail I didn't get very many results, which I knew was wrong. Then I realized that next to each of my mail folders was a number. Turns out this is the number of search results within that folder. Wow! This is much different than 9.1, where all the relevant emails that use the search term got consolidated into one big, long list.

So, for example, let's say I sent a mail to all my friends with the subject line "picnic" and they all wrote back. If I wanted to find the email I sent, I would do search for "picnic" and I would not only get the email I sent, but all the response emails with a subject line "re: picnic." With 10.1, I can search only in the "Sent" folder for "picnic" emails to find the one I need. It's a lot more efficient.

I also sent my first email with a MapQuest map right in it. I mentioned earlier that if I needed to give directions in 9.1, I would only provide an address and make the recipient do the work because I'm lazy (yes, simply opening a new window to access MapQuest WAS too much work!). But the ability to add maps into email using Desktop is so easy that I may be converted into providing maps to my recipients on a regular basis, even if I don't actually have a place to send them. You hit the attach button, type in your location and presto! Your map is in the email. It only looks like I care enough about my recipient to do a lot of extra work for them – in reality, I do almost nothing. Nice.

More fun finds next week!

Goodbye!

Posted Sep 19th 2008 3:58PM by Laura Peterson
3 Comments

Hi everyone,

After five great years working at AOL, it's sadly time for me to move on to some new challenges. I'm heading to a new position, but you'll still see me in Beta and I'll definitely be commenting here. If you figured out my email address by now, I'll be happy to answer your questions unofficially if I can!

The AOL Desktop blog will be left in the capable hands of Kevin Mayo, my boss and Director of Product Management -- stay tuned for some cool tips from him.

Thanks for reading the blog, and I'm glad to have been able to help you all with your questions about AOL.

Don't forget to try Yedda.com, where many other AOL employees respond to all sorts of questions.

All the best,

Laura Peterson

Here are a few of my favorite things... Toolbar Favorites. I'm not going to lie. I am a total nerd about Favorites, especially adding Favorite shortcuts to the carousel on the Toolbar. Deciding which URLs are worthy of one of the few highly coveted spots on the Toolbar Carousel as well as which icon goes with what shortcut is something that I spend way too long on (like making a WeeMee ... I can kill an entire afternoon perfecting a WeeMee). So Toolbar Favorites was one of the first features I checked out two weeks ago when I downloaded Desktop 10.1.


There are parts of the new Toolbar Favorites functionality that I really like and some that I wish were better. I love the "More" option. It used to be a huge dilemma for me when I realized I had a new site that I needed to regularly check but my carousel was full and I had to delegate one of my beloved existing Toolbar Favorite shortcuts down to the lame Favorite Places folder (where there was no icon, it took an extra click to retrieve, there was no ability to sort ...). I also like that all the AOL channels were represented upon initial download. In 9.1, the selection of default AOL shortcuts seemed random.

But I've worked here almost ten years and I know how to get around AOL pretty well so I wanted to move the AOL channels out of the visible Toolbar Carousel (which is why the "More" feature is so fabulous – I don't have to delete them altogether). Changing out the Toolbar Favorites was a piece of cake – I love drag and drop functionality. I had hopes maybe there would be some new icons from the library added for the shortcuts, but there was nothing new. However, what is new is that now, when you add a Toolbar Favorite, the shortcut icon is often picked up from the page. For example, I regularly read a friend's blog that uses Vox. When I added the URL to my Toolbar Favorites, the default icon showed up as the Vox logo. That was pretty neat.

Sadly, because the new Toolbar is a lot narrower, the icons are very small once they are implemented. If it hasn't already been made clear that I really enjoy using Toolbar Favorites, let me reiterate the point by saying I rely on them constantly. I am used to being able to glance across the Toolbar and seeing a clear "!" and knowing that's the shortcut for my Poll Tool or knowing the cartoon penguin will take me to my family's Web site. They are not as recognizable anymore. However, when you mouse over them, you now get a full description, whereas before there was a strict character limit (my Poll Tool used be identified as "Plltl").

Lastly, and this is what I am really excited about, it is easy to (FINALLY) prioritize the Favorites, both on the Toolbar Carousel and in the Favorite Places folder – again, a simple drag and drop. In 9.1, that was one of my biggest frustrations. If I wanted to change the order on the Toolbar Carousel (like group all the similar ones together), I had to delete the Toolbar Favorite and re-add it to the new location. If I wanted to organize my Favorite Places folder (like alphabetize them), well, I couldn't. I also thought it was interesting that all of my Favorite places from AOL 9.1 came over as did my Internet Explorer Favorites. It was great to have them all in the same place and conveniently accessible down the left-side of the Web panel.

Let me conclude by acknowledging I have a seriously unhealthy obsession with Toolbar Favorites. It's bad enough I probably spent a full hour playing with, organizing, prioritizing and assigning icons to my Toolbar Favorites list. Now I've also spent an entire blog just talking about them. More (on a new topic, I promise) next week!

Are you seeing gobbledegook copyright text or excerpts of a programming language in your IM conversations in AOL Desktop? If so, these two workarounds should solve the problem.


Workaround #1

1) Manually Locate the folder:

C:\Program Files\AIM6\services\imApp\ver6_5_#_#\content\im

Note that ver6_5_#_# represents your version number of AIM. It will change each time you upgrade AIM. You must manually type in your version number or navigate to that directory.

2) Right Click Template.html (icon should be a page with an e)
3) Click Properties
3) Click Change
4) Select Notepad
5) Click OK Twice


Workaround #2

1) Start Internet Explorer
if it's IE7, hit the ALT key
2) Click on Tools
3) Click on Internet Options
4) Click on the Advanced Tab
5) Click on the Reset button
If you're running an older version then IE7, maybe click on Restore Defaults button.


Thanks,


Laura


___

Laura Peterson

Product Lead, AOL Desktop

Wanted to talk about Yedda.com for a little bit. This is a community where people can ask and answer questions.

Many AOL employees like me, as well as a lot of folks on the AOL Mail team, are on Yedda answering your questions about AOL. There's an AOL Mail page here:

http://yedda.com/partners/aol/mail/help/aol_mail_faq

Note on questions: to increase the likelihood of getting a good answer, try to make your questions as detailed as possible. Include what version of AOL you're using (e.g. AOL 9.0, AOL Desktop v.10.1, AOL webmail).

Thanks,

Laura
___
Laura Peterson
Product Lead, AOL Desktop

Hi all,

Do you have general questions about AOL Desktop or AOL 9.1?

Submit a comment in response to this thread with your question for the team to answer, or, if you happen to have the answer, feel free to answer a question with a comment of your own.

Don't forget to check out the "AOL Desktop FAQs" and other useful links in the "Resources" area to the right. These pages were designed to address the majority of common problems!

Thanks,

Laura

___
Laura Peterson
Product Lead, AOL Desktop

Thanks again for the new comments. I'm checking into some of them and will get back to you with what I find. In the meantime, I have now been using Desktop for a full week. Here are some things I like and some things I am having trouble adjusting to.


I'm finally getting used to closing the tab instead of the full window. However, one thing I keep forgetting is that the upper left corner is no longer "Write Mail." I keep expecting to see a blank email form every time I click it and instead I just get my inbox. Even after a week, I'm still doing it. (I'm a slow learner.)


I really like the ability to work between tabs instead of having to minimize and maximize windows repeatedly if I am using two or more Web sites at the same time. When I do minimize something, having the whole page shrink to a thumbnail in the lower left is VERY COOL. (I am also easily impressed.)


I love the reload option on the AOL Welcome screen. I especially appreciate that if something on the page changes, the reload button is available, so I am alerted to reload. With 9.1, I used to go all day with the same Welcome screen up. If I remembered to update it, I had to close the Welcome screen and then open it back up to see what (if anything) had changed.


For my mail, I really enjoyed the reading pane, but I had trouble keeping mail as New while I was using it. I tend to use the "Keep Mail as New" button as a way to stay organized and remember what I still need to respond to. With the preview pane, if I deleted an email out of my "New" folder, the next one down would show up in the preview pane and would then be considered read and automatically get moved to old, even if I hadn't read or responded to it yet. So I turned off the preview pane. I never noticed if it actually did save me time, but in reality, I suspect not.


Speaking of mail organization, I really like automatically seeing all my folders on the left. And it was easy to create new folders. I do wish I could drag and drop mail into the folders though. That would be pretty neat.


I had intended to write this week about one of my favorite topics – adding FAVORITES, but I got distracted by all these other new features as I came across them each day. So next week I will write about Favorites and the Toolbar, plus, I am going to finally figure out how to properly add another email account.

Here's a little walkthrough on Favorite Places in AOL Desktop v. 10.1. This includes info on where to find them as well as tips for adding and managing them.

Where are my Favorite Places?

There are two main ways to view and open your Favorite Places in AOL Desktop v.10.1, one being the browser menu area (similar to the right-most Favorites dropdown button in 9.1), and the second being the "sidepanel" in the browser (which is the equivalent of clicking the "Favorite Places" button in 9.1).

Note: The Favorite Places which came over from a previous version of AOL are in the "suitcase and heart" folder at the top of the menu or the sidepanel -- look at the "your screenname's Favorite Places" below.

Click the "Favorites" link in the browser menu to expand the folders (as you can see in the screenshot below). You can also add, import, or manage favorites from this menu via the links at the top.



Favorites Menu view:
  • Quickly expand folders and their contents
  • Link to "Import Favorites"
  • "Suitcase and heart" menu contains your AOL Favorite Places from a prior version of AOL

To open your Favorite Places sidepanel view in the browser, just click the "heart" to the left of the URL field in the browser.

Here's a screenshot of the sidepanel:


Sidepanel view:
  • Click the "heart" to open it.
  • Sidepanel view also lets you view, edit, remove and add favorites.
  • Double click folders to expand them.
  • Click and hold to drag favorites or folders into other folders or to change the order
  • "Suitcase and heart" folder at the top contains your AOL Favorites Places from an older version of AOL

How do I add links to Favorites, the Toolbar, or send in an IM or Email?

The heart menu from 9.1 is still around -- it's now the "add" button in the browser to the left of the URL field. Click this menu and choose one of the choices in the dropdown. Here's a screenshot:



In my next blog article, I'll take you through the steps to carry Favorite Places over from older versions of AOL as well as troubleshooting issues for anyone who has more questions.

Cheers,

Laura

(Extra Tip: when you hover over a favorite before clicking, you'll even see a quick peek at the favorite, which can helpfully jog your memory if you have a lot of favorites!)

___
Laura Peterson

Product Lead, AOL Desktop

I've gotten a lot of comments from folks warning me about what they like/don't like on Desktop. Thanks so much! I'll certainly be on the lookout for these things and let you know if I can find some way around the ones you don't like.

Meanwhile, today I downloaded Desktop 10.1. As it downloaded, I got a little tutorial about all the new features. This is a nice touch – entertaining and informative.

Some of the features I noted from my tutorial:

1) Browse without signing on. Not sure what that means, but I am sure I will figure out when I get downloaded.

2) Tabs for browser, email and IM windows. My husband uses Firefox so I've seen this before. It's neat, but it takes some getting used to. I tend to automatically close the X in the upper right corner, thus shutting down ALL windows.

3) Send and receive email from multiple accounts. Ohhhh, that's kind of cool.

4) Easily add maps and directions to emails and IM's. I wonder if they could make it even easier than just adding a link. Personally, I prefer to just send an address and make someone else do the work. I'm inconsiderate that way.

Even though I read the intro, when Desktop opened, I thought it had automatically signed me in because I was looking at a slicker version of the Welcome experience I was used to receiving after I signed in. But then I had to sign on once I tried to get my email. Ah-ha, this is "Browse without signing on." Makes sense. I like the new way you sign in.

A poll was recently done that showed 55% of AOL users check email first. I am one of them. So, a couple notes about my first mail experience. I like the reading pane (a preview to an email before you open it) because I find it to be a timesaver. One thing I don't like is that the default layout of your mail inbox gives you a less-complete view of the subject line than before. Easily fixed by enlarging the mail inbox, but I do wish it was automatically expanded.

Something else I really appreciated is that when I minimized 10.1, I saw my old AOL 9.1 icon sitting next to the new one. Just out of curiosity, I clicked and there was my old AOL just as I left it. This was definitely different -– in my previous experiences, if you upgraded to a new version of AOL, it replaced the old one completely.

My next step was adding my Gmail account. When I went to access it, the inbox claimed I had 430 emails but it only showed me the first 100 or so, with the most recent from Oct. 2007. I tried moving those 100 to my saved folder, and then tried deleting them, but it claimed I had zero emails, which wasn't right either. I couldn't access anything recent. So I removed the Gmail account and will play around with it over the next week. More on what I figure out, plus my thoughts on adding favorites to the toolbar, next week.

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About The Team

Terrie is the lead product manager on the AOL Desktop Affinity software. Terrie works to define new views of Desktop. Like the Asylum Desktop and LemonDrop Desktop. Take a look, they are neat!

Summer is a Sr. Manager for AOL Member Communications. While she has no ties directly to the product development team, she has been a contributor to many AOL blogs over the last few years and is excited to bring a non-product team perspective to the Desktop blog.

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