Note: We are currently installing new equipment, which will improve our mail services. Unfortunately, this has resulted in some performance issues, especially during peak internet hours. We are working toward quickly resolving these issues with minimum inconvenience to our users.
If you are unable to send emails or getting an image challenge when trying to send emails using the AOL Desktop Software, try the solutions given below. After trying the first solution, check whether you can send emails. If you are still unable to send emails, continue trying the suggested solutions until the problem is resolved. Alternatively, you can access your emails at AOL.com. For instructions on how to send emails using AOL.com, refer to our help article AOL Mail: Compose and Contacts
Note: Emails saved in the Saved on My PC folder will be not be accessible through AOL.com.
You may wish to print or save a copy of these instructions, as this page may not remain visible as you go through the suggested steps.
Information you need
You will need to know the version of the Microsoft Windows operating system installed on your computer. You can find this information by following the steps given in the help article Determining your version of Microsoft Windows.
You will also need to know the version of AOL Connectivity Service (ACS) installed on your computer before attempting the solutions given below. If you are using AOL 9.6, AOL 9.5, AOL 9.1, AOL 9.0 VR, or AOL Desktop v10.1, you have ACS 4 installed on your computer. If you are using AOL 9.0 Optimized, AOL 9.0 Optimized SE/LE, or AOL Security Edition, follow the instructions given in the help article How do I determine the version of AOL Connectivity Service (ACS) I have?
Restart your computer
If you haven't recently restarted your computer or you don't restart your computer very often, we recommend that you restart the computer. Restarting the computer clears the internal memory (RAM) and often resolves many issues.
For instructions, please read our online help article Restart the computer.
Run AOL Process Shut Down
Closing all AOL processes may resolve the issue. If you are using ACS 4 or ACS 3, you can use the AOL Process Shut Down utility, which is a program that terminates all AOL applications currently running on your computer. If you are using ACS 2 or ACS 1, you will need to manually close all AOL processes. Please click the appropriate link below for instructions to close AOL processes.
Verify mail controls settings
Your mail controls settings may block you from sending or receiving emails, especially emails with pictures and file attachments. To verify your mail controls, follow the instructions given in the help article Are spam settings blocking email or attachments I actually want to get.
Run Quick Restore
Note: Please close the AOL Desktop Software before running Quick Restore.
The Quick Restore feature allows you to reset the AOL Desktop Software to its default state by deleting all the updates you have previously downloaded. It can help resolve issues that you may have with your AOL software without having to reinstall the software.
Once Quick Restore is completed, you will receive a series of AOL software updates, also known as AOL Tools on Demand (TOD) updates.
Please click the link corresponding to the version of ACS installed on your computer for instructions to run Quick Restore.
Note: If you are using AOL Desktop v10.1, skip to the next solution.
Reset Mailbox State
Resetting the mailbox settings can help fix several common issues that you may be experiencing by re-synchronizing the servers that control your mailbox, address book, calendar and preferences.
To reset your mailbox settings, you will need to open the Mail System Summary page. The System Summary page can be opened by holding the Shift key on your keyboard, then clicking the Options down arrow. A new browser window will open, displaying the contents of the System Summary page. When it is no longer needed, click the X button in the upper right to close the AOL Mail System Summary window.
To reset your mailbox settings:
1. Above your mailbox in the upper right, while holding down your Shift key, click the Options down arrow.
2. A new browser window will open displaying AOL Mail System Summary.
3. Depending on which issue you're having trouble with, click the Reset button next to it.
- Mailbox State: If you're experiencing issues with your mailbox, click Reset.
- Address State: If you're experiencing issues with your address book, click Reset.
- Calendar State: If you're experiencing issues with your calendar, click Reset.
- User Preferences: To reset all of your AOL Mail preferences to default, click Reset.
4. Once you're done resetting the issue you were experiencing, close the AOL Mail System Summary window by clicking the X in the top right corner.
5. Sign out of your account and then sign back in.
Delete all connection locations and redetect the modem
Deleting all connectivity locations and files removes bad access phone numbers, dialing options and incorrect modem or broadband settings. The AOL Desktop Software will automatically search for and select the correct connection device, and guide you through the process of selecting appropriate access phone numbers and dialing options.
WARNING: You will incur charges on your phone bill if you select an AOL access phone number that is a long-distance call or is not covered by your local calling plan. Please check with your local phone company to learn whether the access phone numbers that you select are local for your calling plan. Remember that members on certain plans may be charged an hourly rate for dial-up connections. See AOL Keyword: My Account or go to myaccount.aol.com/ for details regarding the charges applicable to your account. This keyword is accessible only through the AOL Desktop Software.
Please click the link corresponding to the version of ACS on your computer for instructions to delete the connection locations and redetect the modem.
Enable only essential startup programs
Multiple programs may have been set to start automatically when a computer is turned on. These programs may cause the computer to slow down. Not all startup programs are essential for the proper functioning of a computer. Click the link corresponding to the version of Windows installed on your computer to know how to enable only essential startup programs on your computer.
- Enable only essential startup programs in Windows Vista
- Enable only essential startup programs in Windows XP
If you are using Windows 2000/Me/98, you will have to manually close all programs currently running on your computer to resolve the issue. Please click the link corresponding to the version of Windows you have on your computer for instructions to close all programs.
Scan for viruses
This inability to send mail can also be caused by a virus. Scanning your computer may resolve the issue. For information on how to scan your computer, refer to our help article Full scan my computer for viruses using McAfee Internet Security Suite.
Clear cookies, cache, history and footprints
Whenever you visit websites, temporary internet files and cookies are stored on your computer to record your return visits. Sometimes, these temporary internet files and cookies can cause the issue that you are currently experiencing. Similarly, your history list can also be a concern. The longer the time period you have specified for pages to be saved on your history list, the greater the disk space used on your computer. You can free up the disk space by clearing this list.
Note: Once you clear your cookies, cache and history or footprints, you may lose the following:
- AOL Radio presets
- Websites you have visited
- Your shopping cart
- Your customized pages
To learn how to clear your cache, cookies, history and footprints, check out our help article Clear cookies, cache, history and footprints in your browser.
Uninstall and reinstall the AOL Desktop Software
If the issue persists, we recommend that you uninstall and reinstall the AOL software. Uninstalling the AOL Desktop Software removes all damaged and non-repairable files, and reinstalling the software installs new, error-free files.
Please click the link corresponding to the version of Windows on your computer for instructions to uninstall the AOL Desktop Software.