Sunday, July 2, 2006

Q I'm closing out my AOL account, but I don't want to lose my address book and Web favorites. How can I add them to my new Internet software?

AWhen I addressed this issue in December 2004, it took two Help File entries to explain how to liberate your data from AOL. Fortunately, things have since gotten simpler.

In Windows, visit and grab two free AOL programs -- the AIM Triton instant messenger and the AOL Explorer Web browser.

Triton can copy your AOL address book to Microsoft's Outlook or Outlook Express mail program via the free Plaxo address-sharing service ( ). Run AIM; enter your AOL screen name and password; and follow the prompts you see from then on to set up a Plaxo account, create a "universal address book" and synchronize it to either Microsoft mail program. (You can then uninstall Plaxo and cancel your Plaxo account if you want.)

To turn your Favorite Places into browser bookmarks, run AOL Explorer, click the blue "Sign in" heading at its top-right corner, and log in with your AOL screen name. Then go to its Favorites menu and select "Import AOL Favorites . . . "

You can keep AOL Explorer as your browser, or you can switch back to Internet Explorer. (In either program, your old Favorites appear under an "Imported from AOL" folder.) You can also copy these newly freed favorites to another browser; in Firefox, for example, select the Bookmarks menu's "Manage Bookmarks" command, then go to the Bookmark Manager window's File menu and choose "Import."

If you use Mac OS X, you only need one program -- the free, blissfully simple AOL Service Assistant ( ), which will transfer your AOL e-mail, address book, favorites and calendar to Apple's Mail, Address Book, Safari and iCal programs.

-- 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

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