While AOL is a subscription-based Internet service provider, it also offers a free account that includes an e-mail address and a screen name for instant messaging. The free account from AOL is ideal for users who already have an Internet service provider but wish to set up an AOL e-mail account and chat with friends through the instant messaging service. In addition to the free service, the company provides AOL Desktop, a downloadable program for account users that keeps your buddy conversations, Internet browser and AOL main page in one program window.
Visit the AOL home page (see Resources) and click "Get a free account" at the top of the browser window.
Type your first and last name, and create a user name for your AOL account. Click "Check" to see if the user name is available.
Create a password that consists of 16 characters including letters and numbers, and retype the password in the text box below the password field to confirm it.
Enter your alternate e-mail address. The alternate e-mail address is linked to your AOL account and is used to send you messages in the event you are unable to access your AOL e-mail account.
Click the security question drop-down menu and click a question from the menu. Enter the answer to the question in the text box below. The security question and answer is used to verify your identity if you need to reset your password in the future.
Enter your Postcode and date of birth. Select your gender and type the code displayed in the box below the gender selection area to verify you are an actual person and not a bot.
Click "Submit" to complete the registration process and "Print" to print out your user name and security question and answer. Keep the printed account information in a safe place to prevent others from altering your account information.
Scroll down to the bottom of the main AOL page and click "AOL Downloads." Click "Download Now" in the All-in-One Software section to download the AOL Desktop program.
Click "Run" to automatically install the software after the download is complete.
AOL allows you to sign on and check your account from any computer by logging in directly to your account from the main AOL site. Join the AOL dial-up or broadband subscription service by clicking the link in the Resources section. This service is a monthly service that acts as your main Internet service provider and includes live customer support and Internet security software.