How do you copy an AOL address book into Outlook or Outlook Express? How about copying AOL's Web bookmarks?
Extracting an AOL address book on a Windows PC is far easier than on a Mac, because the online service offers a free program called Intellisync for AOL (aolsync.aol.com). This will easily copy your contacts list into Microsoft's Outlook or Outlook Express as well as Palm Desktop. Unfortunately, not everybody in AOL's tech support seems to know it exists; a reader called Monday to say he'd twice been told that no such option existed.
As for Favorite Places -- what AOL calls bookmarks -- it's at best a two-step process. On a PC, open the Favorites window, click the Manage button and select the option to save a copy of your favorites to your computer.
Then download a program called URL Organizer ($17 with a 30-day free trial, at www.urlorg.com/urlorganizer2), which will convert that favorites file into a bookmarks list that can be read in any major browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera.
I couldn't find an equivalent to URL Organizer on the Mac (URL, by the way, is short for uniform resource locator, which in turn is a woefully bureaucratic synonym for "address"). Instead, you'll have to log in to AOL, start a new e-mail message, open the Favorite Places window and drag each favorites link into the body of that message.
E-mail that to your non-AOL account, then click on each link in the received message. Each page will open in your browser, where you can easily bookmark it.
(Last week I answered a different question about getting data out of AOL. I don't mean to beat up on the service, but it has lost about 2 million subscribers over the past year, which puts a lot of people in these predicaments. Next week, I'll tackle some non-AOL Internet software for a change.)
-- Rob Pegoraro
Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.