Yahoo Mail just got a major redesign and new ad-free subscription options

It’s been 20 years since the launch of Yahoo Mail, the third-largest web-based email service in the world, and at least five years since its last major overhaul. But hot on the heels of a multibillion-dollar Verizon acquisition, Yahoo Mail is relaunching with a fresh coat of paint, a new ad-free premium tier, and a bevy of new features aimed squarely at competitors like Outlook and Gmail.

Yahoo Mail’s interface has been redesigned from the ground up. It’s minimalist, with increased spacing between elements and a library of switchable color themes (including some that change in response to the time of day). Rich previews show hover-over snapshots of links, and a revamped search mode lets you filter files, emails, and other attachments with a combination of names, keywords, and dates. There’s a new GIF library, too, and a collection of open source emojis and stationary.

Things are a lot more organized now. The new Yahoo Mail serves up quick links to auto-generated folders (like Photos and Documents) in the left-hand navigation bar, and the settings screen has been redesigned to reflect any changes you make instantaneously. And accessibility has been improved — there’s support for NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Acess), VoiceOver, and other screen readers, in addition to options for light-sensitive and low-vision readers.

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A lot has changed behind the scenes, too. Yahoo says it’s using modern web technologies like Javascript, Ajax, React, Redux, and others to speed up browsing, which have helped to shrink its footprint by 50 percent compared to earlier versions of Yahoo Mail. In day-to-day usage, it should be a lot faster and more responsive.

Alongside the redesign this week. Yahoo took the wraps off Yahoo Mail Pro, an ad-free, premium version of Yahoo Mail that includes priority support of desktop and mobile. It starts at $35 per year/$3.50 per month, or $10 a year/$1 a month for a mobile-only version.

The new Yahoo Mail is available starting Wednesday for English users, but there’s an option to switch back to the old look if you decide it’s not for you.

The redesign is part of a broader effort by Yahoo’s new corporate parent, Oath. Earlier this week, for example, Yahoo backed out of a deal with AT&T that let the internet provider’s subscribers log into Yahoo websites with their subscription accounts.

But Yahoo has a lot to prove. This year, it suffered by two massive security breaches that affected more than a billion users, delayed Verizon’s acquisition, and knocked $350 million off its valuation. And an independent committee found Yahoo at fault for not sufficiently responding to the incidents.

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