In exchange for a free account, however, Yahoo wants your name, birth date, gender, zip code, industry, and job title; you'll need to opt out of promotional offers and punch in a verification code, then download the Yahoo Companion toolbar. Yahoo Mail will also prompt you to create a personalized My Yahoo Web page, which you can skip by closing the browser window and accessing your account in a new window.
Yahoo's classic interface features folders on the left, an in-box on the right, and a big, honkin' banner ad across the top. Below the ad, Yahoo places tabs for your address book, calendar, and notepad, as well as buttons for checking mail, composing messages, and searching your in-box, along with a link for changing other mail options. It's as simple and straightforward an interface as you'll find.
The thing that makes Yahoo really shine, though, is its feature set. As you read messages, you can create folders on the fly to stash them in, or you can create up to 15 filters to automatically funnel mail into folders as it arrives. You can check as many as three external POP accounts and assign each one a different color so that the messages stand out in your in-box. A newly improved search function can perform a full-text search of all your messages in a matter of seconds. We were able to import nearly 2,000 addresses from Outlook in less than one minute. Furthermore, Yahoo makes it easy to print out a copy of your address book for those moments when you're away from your machine.
Yahoo's SpamGuard protection isn't as thorough as Hotmail's spam solution. You can specify addresses from which you don't want to receive mail (limited to 100 addresses) and tell Yahoo to block images, but you can't adjust strictness settings or create a list of approved senders. Still, over a one-month period, Yahoo stopped more than 90 percent of the spam coming into our account. In addition to deleting messages, you can also report unwanted messages as spam.
Yahoo offers e-mail support, though you'll have to work your way through some FAQs before you encounter a support link; however, Yahoo's support isn't nearly as hard to find as Hotmail's. More impressively, we sent a question and received an answer back within an hour.