How you use your email affects what sort of protocol you should use.

When it comes to managing your email from a client, there are two major protocols that everyone uses: Post Office Protocol, or POP3, and Internet Messaging Access Protocol, or IMAP. When you’re setting up your AOL address in an email client, you can choose which protocol to use with your account. Each protocol offers different perks and options, so its important to know what you’re getting in to when you choose which to use with your AOL email address.

Supported Protocols

AOL mail actually supports both IMAP and POP3 servers, so you’re able to choose the right server for your needs. If you’re intending to use POP3 when you’re setting up your email account, set “” as your incoming mail server. If you want to use IMAP, the server is “”. Regardless of which server you choose, the outgoing mail server is “”.


POP3 downloads copies of every email from the AOL server to your computer, allowing you to read emails offline and keep copies of your messages on the AOL server, untouched. This takes up storage space on your machine, more so than IMAP. When you access IMAP via a client, messages are synced to the AOL server without downloading them. When you delete a message in your client when accessing AOL via IMAP, that message is also deleted on the AOL server.

Missing Features

While AOL supports IMAP, there are some features missing when you opt to use it. You can’t check the status of your sent messages or see if messages sent to other AOL users have arrived. Instead of using your client’s “Report Spam” button, you’ll have to report spam by moving messages manually to the Spam folder. You also cannot create or remove folders from the root AOL folder.

Which Protocol Is Best for You?

The biggest different between using POP3 and IMAP is in how you intend to check your mail. If you only check your mail from one program on one computer, then POP3 is fine. But if you use multiple computers — such as one at work and one at home — or also check your email from a mobile device, then you’re better off with IMAP. With the AOL server managing your messages, you’ll always have the right messages on every device.