Changes at AOL: Instant Messenger shutting down, desktop software charges

AOL is making some major changes to its services. AIM is going away and they want to charge users to continue using their desktop software. Here's what you need to know so you're not disconnected.

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Remember when America Online ruled? The company was one of the first ways many of us got our start on the Internet. Those days are long behind us, but there are many people who still use AOL services including email. Here are how some of the recent changes could affect you.

AOL Instant Messenger

AOL says it is shutting down AIM on December 15, 2017. The company said in a Tumblr post that "We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world."

So what does this mean for you? Basically, you will lose access to any chat history you might have after that. You WILL NOT lose access to your AIM email address. In the meantime, you can try logging one last time to to export your chat history and/or any pictures you might have shared with your buddies back in the day.

When I logged in, I was surprised to find everything was trapped in a time capsule - my screenname and buddy list were just where I left it years ago - but I couldn't see any chat history, which was a bit disappointing.

If you don't plan on using your AIM account any longer and don't use the associated AOL or AIM email address, I recommend deleting your account for security reasons. You don't want old accounts lingering around the web.

Go to to delete your old account.

AOL Desktop Gold

Another change that's been slowly happening at AOL is the disappearance of their free desktop software. AOL has been notifying users that if they want to continue sending and receiving email through their proprietary desktop software they will have to start paying $5 a month for something called AOL Desktop Gold.

I can't recommend paying for AOL software at this point. You can access all of the same AOL services for free through a regular web browser like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge by going to If you want to send and receive AOL email, you can do that at or by downloading the AOL app for your iPhone or Android.

I know, it's tough to say goodbye to a service that we felt such a bond with for so long, but times have definitely changed.

BTW, if you want to check out the app that I used for that cool 1990's VHS camcorder effect, check out VHS Camcorder for iOS or Android.