Yahoo Mail gets a redesign, goes “password-free”

Yahoo today is revamping one of its most important products, Yahoo Mail, relaunching the 18-year-old email service with smarter and faster mobile features and encouraging users to dump their passwords.

Unlike CEO Marissa Mayer’s Great Yahoo Mail Makeover of 2013 — an attempt to cull from her experience running Google’s widely popular Gmail that instead confused and infuriated loyal Yahoo users — today’s changes are more subtle and unlikely to jar.

The most dramatic shift, though still optional, is the promise that “Yahoo users will never have to use a password again” thanks to a new form of authentication called Yahoo Account Key, said Dylan Casey, the product manager who developed the new tool.

“We’re going to kill passwords altogether,” he said, as he described a new system that sends push notifications to a user’s smartphone or wristwatch asking to verify identity.

How users will react to the change, designed to be more secure than the outdated password model and simpler than the typical two-factor authentication process, remains to be seen, but the company is taking an eat-your-vegetables approach to combat the security vulnerabilities caused by weak passwords that are easily forgotten, easily hacked and typically shared across multiple personal accounts.

“It takes getting used to,” said Jeff Bonforte, Yahoo’s head of communications products, in a press event Wednesday at Yahoo’s office in downtown San Francisco. “Patterns die hard. People are used to passwords, as much as they hate them.”

Other upgrades include a “multiple mailbox” manager that places separate email accounts under one umbrella tool, allowing Yahoo Mail users to access their emails from AOL or Microsoft’s Hotmail/ and giving Yahoo an even larger body of email content to scan for targeted advertising dollars. Gmail is not included in the mix, though ongoing talks with Google could fold it in later, Bonforte said.

Jeff Bonforte, Yahoo's senior vice president of communications products. (Photo courtesy of Yahoo)

Jeff Bonforte, Yahoo’s senior vice president of communications products. (Photo courtesy of Yahoo)

Also launching today on Yahoo Mail are more powerful tools to search for archived content and automatically suggest the right contacts when composing email.

“We think we have the most advanced search in a mobile mail client,” said Fernando Delgado, a senior director of product management. Regular users of Yahoo Mail on mobile devices are going to notice those improvements right away, he said.

Other improvements include a new feature for so-called “me-mailers” — the roughly 20 percent of Yahoo users who frequently send emails to themselves with to-do lists or other notes — that helps them create a notebook of their files. There’s also a feature that adds icons for every verified user — company logos for emails from well-known banks, stores, airlines and other services — and automatically created initials for everyone else.

Yahoo Mail, once the leader in Web-based email providers and a crucial springboard to the company’s other online products, has been playing catch up since Google launched its upstart email service in 2004 and swiftly grew to become the leader, as the latest comScore figures show:

ComScore estimates from August 2015 show Yahoo Mail as No. 2 in unique visitors behind Gmail.

ComScore estimates from August 2015 show Yahoo Mail as No. 2 in unique visitors behind Gmail.

Bonforte said Yahoo has spent tens of millions of dollars on the computing power that allows today’s upgrades to work. The new Yahoo Mail app should already be available in the Apple App Store and will be available starting today for Android users in Google Play.


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  • LarryNH914

    I forget my cell phone sometimes, does that mean I can’t get to my email?!? What if I drop my cell, or the battery dies?

    • Fat Hubie

      We are steadily losing control of our devices and our lives.

    • rainbowbudland

      Don’t worry, with this new process they will have all of your information and can order a new phone for you and then they can upload your address book to the phone too. If you missed any calls, they can send you the voicemails or the recorded conversation of your choice.

    • The way I’ve seen it done, when you try to log in from a new device, it texts you a verification code that you enter on the website. Then it produces a key that associates that device with your account. You don’t need your phone every time you log in to your account.

      Of course, I don’t know what Yahoo is going to do.

  • rainbowbudland

    Really, the goal is to ONLY remove using a password to access Yahoo email? It is a free service, why would Yahoo invest money in something for free? Or maybe they want to use phone verification as way to track your comments and put a real name on each email account so they can sell not only your email tracking information, but now your phone information too.
    Did you notice you cannot create a Yahoo email account now without a cell phone number?
    Why is that? What is Yahoo up to?

    • fred

      Yahoo does offer a paid email service that give your true push notification. Without it, you don’t really get push notification.

    • King T

      $$ and they only pretend to support network neutrality. These groups do not want anonymity and the NSA and friends play nice with corps that hand info over. They want access to your phone so they can track you and push ads to you. Look at the list of permissions required to download their email ap.. its ridiculous. Nobody should trust them with that access and everyone should be concerned with their privacy & security. Its bad enough apple/google, the ISP’s & some hardware manufactures are already aggregating all this info. Resist your online profiles all being connected.

  • Keyon Customer

    Let’s see, I’ve been using Yahoo mail for some 20 years now… But that “key” crap is a deal breaker. I’m not going to sit and wait for my phone to ring before I can get to my Internet Email… And ditto LarryNH914’s concerns.. The “key” idea is totally asinine.

    • rainbowbudland

      I agree with you totally. However I need to point out something that is bugging me, there is no way you have had a Yahoo email account for 20 years.

      Research quote:
      “On March 8, 1997, Yahoo! acquired online communications company Four11. Four11’s webmail service, Rocketmail, became Yahoo! Mail.”
      Impossible for you to have a Yahoo email account for 20 years my friend.

      • Mike Jacobson

        Geez, nitpick much? He said “some 20 years” which means approximately 20 years. So 18 is close enough.

      • Keyon Customer

        Golly, not a little nit picky there huh rainbow. Come on man, give me a break. I’m an old man… But I know I was with Yahoo mail in 1997 as I had sent my best friend an “Excalibur Sword” reproduction. That’s where I got my “nom-de-plume” of “excalibur_immortalis” . He died from AIDS a year later, October 10, 1998. Things like that, one remembers, but maybe not the “exact date” one signs up for email. So I was off a couple years… excuse me for “generalizing.” I’ll try and not do that ever again.

  • hibiscusanole

    My cell is totally hacked. This is not security.

  • Don Luther

    Yahoo mail a “crap” pipeline as it is. This will make it a “crap” tunnel I’m guessing. It’s a sign when their search engine rewards you with “ads” instead of what you’re searching for.

    • rainbowbudland

      Kind of like your dog, huh?

      • deadbydawn101

        haha good one!

  • JJ

    No. Great now I have to change to a different system. Considering my medical records, credit card information and employment records have all been hacked I do not want to go linking other accounts like phone number to any service. It isn’t security, it just makes persons easier to track and more vulnerable once one piece of information falls. Yahoo just wants the phone number so they can sell more data and make more money.

    • King T

      same for me, i was unhappy in 2013 with the change, (& didn’t even complain), but if they force phone authentication I will drop all of my yahoo accounts once and for all. As much as I do appreciate the years of service, I don’t trust yahoo with my phone # or with phone permissions. Same reason I would never download a yahoo app or even sync yahoo mail to my phone. If i cant log in through a browser its over for me.

  • Mike McCormick

    bye bye yahoo email

  • mjs_28s

    “as he described a new system that sends push notifications to a user’s smartphone or wristwatch asking to verify identity”

    So….that means that a bunch of people have to go buy smart phones now to use Yahoo mail or what?

    How will this work with my current email software that is setup to retrieve email from multiple accounts? Is that going to be dead soon?

    I sure hope that this feature is able to be toggled on / off for those of us who don’t want it.

  • David Wolf

    Just great.. I`ve been using yahoo since the beginning. So, they put a woman in charge , I excepted that. Then went the chat rooms , A little pissed off. Screwed up messenger, worked around that too, But this new e-mail crap,Hmmmm, Looks like the end of yahoo for me too.Like everything that was once great, People need to learnone thing. IF IT AINT BROKE, DONT FIX IT!!!!

  • g

    Stupid. Not everyone uses a smartphone. Bad move Yahoo.

    • joevsyou

      it’s a choice… you don’t have to use it. Either way get a damn smart phone, they are dirt cheap as they are used for everything now days

      • ucscalum

        And when you lose it, or it is stolen? What then?

      • Displayed

        Simmer down. If it’s a choice, then why didn’t you leave it at that? Not everyone wants to spend $600.00 to drag around a computer that tracks their every movement or maybe as an NSA operative you were drawn to respond.

        • g


      • g

        It is a choice. And I’m expressing it. I’ll just use my google mail account instead.

        I have a phone and a cell phone – I don’t need a smart phone. I don’t need to surf the internet on my phone. I need my phone to call or txt beyond that – I’m not interested. Nor do I need a more expensive cell phone plan. Nor another great security gap for identity theft.

        Doesn’t matter how cheap they are, or what they are used for or however many others want them. Thanks.

      • gauffrette

        Wouldn’t do us sny good. We live in a dead zone.

        • gwDisqus1712

          Got wifi? Smartphones work great on wifi.

  • itsmyopinionsothere

    IOS and Andriod App…….Where is my Windows App

  • CO

    They got opensource facial recognition software ?

    • Daddy Warbucks

      Or fingerprint & phone number? That works well at my gym.

  • lizzard

    I can’t get reliable phone signals at home – so now I won’t be able to get my mail at home? Might be even worse than the revamp of Yahoo mail in 2013. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. STOP CHANGING THINGS JUST TO CHANGE THEM. We’ve gotten used to passwords. They suck, but we’re used to them. People in many areas of this country have lousy cell service, believe it or not.

    • joevsyou

      passwords are broken thats the thing! people use the same passwords for multiple things so once your account gets hacked say good by to all your other accounts on different sites, Ever forget your password after a long time? well now you change it to something else so you can just forget again because now that one password is different from your other accounts. Either way this is a optional thing.

      authenticators are much safer and easier to use, One time passwords that change every time you use it. So if you use public computers often you never have to worry about keyloggers or whom ever trying get hold of your information

      • Candid One

        Most malware gets installed by the overt actions of the users–post-login.

    • gauffrette

      What cell phone service? We live in a dead zone.

  • Moi

    Problem with tech people – they don’t think like “regular” people, and don’t fully understand and respond to their needs. They try like heck sometimes. I know I will get blasted for this – but other than Microsoft, AOL was the only tech company that understood that fact, right out of the gate. I did not use them for an ISP, but did use their AIM service. I still have Yahoo set (begrudgingly) as my homepage. Making changes for the sake of making changes – and then arrogantly throwing around cute tech-y terms like “Disruption”, makes the majority of us users want to throw up.

  • Buck Rogers

    Another ridiculous change coming from yahoo. Thought the last was horrible enough. Guess I’m going to make AOL my new email. I have had it with yahoo horrible changes!!!

    • Ezra Tank

      Sorry but this is the world we live in now. You want all these modern instant conveniences you need to take the good with the bad. Now that more and more people use email, the internet to do EVERYTHING in their lives they must realize that security and the hassle that comes with it are part of the game.

      So many idiots get their email (and other vital accounts) hacked because they are too lazy (or stupid) to pick a difficult password. Your dog’s name is NOT a good password. Neither is your wife or child’s name. Yet millions of people do it. When Ashley Madison was hacked the number of people that had “12345” as their password was astonishing!

      • piotr1600

        Problem is not the functionality; it’s the gratuitous user interface changes.
        Not one single UI change was actually required – they could have maintained the exact look and feel and implemented all the changes under the hood.

        But instead someone decided that the UI change was needed to be ‘fresh’ or ‘modern’ or something. But I swear occasionally programmers just wake up and decide they’re going to re-do everything and make it “better”, with zero regard for what actual users would like.

        It makes sense to change the UI if the UI is broken in some fashion.
        It’s like some windows/pop ups who instead of having the “x” in the upper RH corner, decide to put it in the upper LH corner.
        No point, no gain, no need. Just… ego.

        Once your userbase has vested in how your UI works, and they’ve gotten up the learning curve into being proficient with how it works, every change thereafter is… irritating, at the very least.

      • Not Chicken Little

        How would you know if my dog’s name is a good password or not? I bet you’ll never guess it…

        Yahoo is great at shoving things down their user’s throats, that they don’t need or want. Some sheeple just blindly accept that but many of us don’t.

      • Candid One

        We hear about the bad password choices–never about the solid passwords that that aren’t hacked. For every bad one, who is able to discern the number of good passwords? Lots security issues for sure–but for what percentage? The biggest security risk is the post-login behavior of the users. Malware gets onboard with a little help from the users…regardless of password security.

      • CAN_AMER

        I once had a 31 character password for my Yahoo email account…

        And then somebody hacked into Yahoo’s email servers and stole millions of their passwords…. including mine. So, how was that my fault again?

        Online security is a joke these days. And, an illusion. Oh yea, even at your bank too..

  • Buck Rogers

    Another thing I have been using yahoo email since the beginning. I miss the old original layout. There used to be a time when you could revert back to it.
    I hate change! I hope yahoo loses a lot users! Thanks for nothing yahoo!!!

    • CAN_AMER

      If you have a desktop computer… download Thunderbird (email desktop client that looks a lot like Outlook, and it’s free). And all of your Yahoo email will be directed to your desktop that way.

      If you have a smart phone …. get the BlueMail app….

      I don’t go to to check my email anymore… and I don’t have the Yahoo email app on my phone either.

      As I pointed out to Mr Bonforte when I wrote him recently, Yahoo is losing big time because their email sucks so badly. I still have my Yahoo email account but I don’t go through the traditional channels to access it. Yahoo loses in that scenario all around. I don’t see their stupid advertisements…. I don’t need to go to their webpage…. FREEDOM!

  • brinke

    ‘ a new system that sends push notifications to a user’s smartphone or wristwatch asking to verify identity.’

    But I don’t own either one of those. Oops.

    • ucscalum

      Nobody cares about us dinosaurs who use desktops.

      • CAN_AMER

        If you have a desktop, download the Thunderbird email desktop client. It looks a lot like Outlook (only it’s free). And, it’s reputable.

        Then set up an IMAP account for your Yahoo email account (you just enter your Yahoo email/password to do that)… and voila… all your email gets filtered to your desktop via Thunderbird. I’ve been doing it for years.

        No more advertising. No more stupid bugs and glitches. No more going to to check your email. It works like a dream.

  • Pooky

    They need to get rid of the hourly Kadashien / Jenner news instead!!

    • Displayed

      And dump Ken Tucker.

  • M.R.

    Since Mayer took over, Yahoo has only gotten worse in almost every respect.

  • armadillarodeo

    Marissa Mayer has driven Yahoo into the ground. She needs a full time job working on Obama’s perpetual campaign staff.

  • CallousOneToo

    I don’t have a smartphone and have no intention of getting one, so where does that leave me?

    • gwDisqus1712

      In the medieval ages.

      • CAN_AMER

        Fitting really …. when you consider half of the world seems to think they’re still back in the dark ages by the barbaric way they treat their fellow man.

    • FairySac

      Just keep turning the crank on your phone and asking Sarah the operator to connect you to Mr Ziffle.

  • Nova

    How does this work for families with only one computer?

    • CallousOneToo

      Just get some string and juice cans and splice them into your ethernet cable.

  • gwDisqus1712

    I’m just glad they stopped asking me to change my password and asking for my phone number every time I logged in. Yahoo or any other web site is never getting my phone number unless it’s a place I may order something, like Amazon. Anyhow, Yahoo mail is my throw away account. I only use it to sign up for website forums.

  • Candid One

    Does the IT communications industry recognize that many grandfathered e-mail users don’t text, tweet, or use Facebook–even in Silicon Valley? Back in the day, Yahoo! bought out my original e-mail service provider, RocketMail. I didn’t have a vote. Now, again…

    I use a desktop and a laptop for my e-mail, which allows high-use/high-volume…something that wouldn’t be feasible on a tiny mobile device.

  • J imbo

    Thank goodness I have a g-mail account. I’ll just change to that. Good bye, Yahoo!

  • Kly

    Since dynamic date separators are still the default setting in the new version, I will be sticking with the basic version.

  • docwatson55

    And if I don’t have a smart phone or “wristwatch”? Guess we’ll see.

  • Dansk Tex

    It won’t do any good for me. I have a smart phone, but Yahoo doesn’t recognize it as a mobile phone! It’s through Republic Wireless. Come on, Yahoo, you can do better than this!

    • Cricket

      they thought republican and blocked it, they have such a hatred of Republicans. that they become Nazified and ban and kill it where ever they can.

  • Bob Erickson

    Most of the brilliant ideas of the tech crowd are too complex for most people to use effectively. Try simplicity for a change.

  • Cricket

    Sorry but mobil phones can be hacked just the same. I see so many people that when using their cards have to go into their phones to get the number.

    • Cricket

      P.S wait till yahoo needs money and sells your phone # to adwares that spam call you all day.

  • dialyn

    Well, I don’t have a smartphone or wristwatch, so that’s a no go. And their upgrade killed my ability to download my email from another source which, up until now, had been no problem. So far, not impressed.

  • MEl

    I do not like the new app so far. I cannot stand the white background and the floating “compose mail” icon. Also, the smart views listed are stupid and I never use them. I wish I could collapse that list or move it to the bottom so I can access my folders more quickly. Lastly, the theme used to match between my desktop and mobile yahoo mail apps, but now they don’t. Why take away that simple feature?

  • Big Mac

    LOL…Does Yahoo really think they can DUPE these yahoo email users? Geez. Call this move genius if you want to, but we all KNOW what a bad move it is. Your NOT getting my phone number to spread around the world, and give foreigners access to it. Yahoo IS HACKABLE, just like all the oithers are. To suggest otherwise, is an insult.

    • Jim

      Your rant bears no connection to the article.

      • susieque2

        Reread the article.

  • joy2z64

    This new yahoo mail is completely unusable as l cannot open my mail now. Whoever came up with this new design hasn’t got a clue on what they are doing. Yahoo needs to change it back again else they are going to lose a lot of customers.

  • susieque2

    If I wanted gmail, odds are pretty good I would have it, huh?
    What Yahoo and every other internet service provider should realize is that their services are tools for the rest of us. We use them to accomplish other tasks, and they aren’t an end in and of themselves. They are a means to an end. Every change causes cumulative hours of lost time for the users and it’s disrespectful to us and we hate it. It feels like the boss has gone through your tool box or desk at work and thrown out anything that he/she didn’t find useful while you were at home sleeping.
    Yahoo made some previous disasterous changes to the program and has such a long history of bad behavior with it, that I would have left long ago for Outlook if I hadn’t saved hundreds of files on Yahoo that I would have to transfer over. I pay them for the priviledge of keeping all the files I have there, so I AM a paying customer.

    • Duke of Dovsky

      But Outlook is even worse, isn’t it?

      • susieque2

        Actually, Outlook isn’t all that bad. The thing is that when I started using Yahoo, it was better than Outlook. Now that I have a lot of files saved in there, and am willing to pay to do it, Yahoo sucks.

  • alrui

    Another bad move by Yahoo! They cant seem to get ANYTHING right!

  • Winston

    We have used Yahoo for almost 18 years. I guess it is time we find someone else. I don’t have a smart phone or one of the special watches. Heck I don’t even have a cell phone. My wife & I are senior citizens and one morning we woke up and realized we were on a different planet. We can’t be the only 2 people who feel this way.

  • VegasSmitty

    The dotheads at Yahoo Sunnyvale locked me out of my Yahoo account few years back. Glad they did, I find Gmail much better.

  • jmoke

    “liberalism is a mental disorder”

  • Hitoshi Anatomi

    Perhaps, a very nice idea for pleasing criminals.

    However nicely designed and implemented, physical tokens, cards and phones are easily left behind, lost, stolen and abused. Then the remembered password would be the last resort.

    And, in a world where we live without remembered passwords, say, where our identity is established without our volitional participation, we would be able to have a safe sleep only when we are alone in a firmly locked room. It would be a Utopia for criminals.

    It is too obvious, anyway, that the conventional alphanumeric password alone can no longer suffice and we urgently need a successor to it, which should be found from among the broader family of the passwords (= what we know and nobody else knows).

  • st0815

    Ok, let’s say I’m traveling abroad. I replace the SIM card, and I want to check my Yahoo account. What happens now? Yahoo sees this as a new device. It wants to send me an SMS … to the SIM card I’m *not* using. Great.

    There is a way around that, Yahoo can also send some sort of token to another email address. That works, but it leaves you wondering: what would happen if *that* email account would use the same bizarre scheme?

    Instead of implementing “security” schemes like that, it might be more worthwhile to get things actually working. Before Mayer came in, Yahoo mail was reliable, then they pushed a series of banana updates, which failed to save draft messages and the like. For a while now it was working again – apparently leaving it like that is not an option …

    I’m mainly using my Yahoo account to track my stock portfolio. Of course that needed to be re-designed as well: now it frequently gets the maths wrong when adding holdings together. The mobile version of the page is still not really functional, and the Android app doesn’t play well with the web site portfolio. Recently it randomly decided to delete one of my portfolios. I could re-enter the data again, but I don’t think I’ll bother.

  • Danse DeMorte

    The new android app also obscures their “sponsored” links so that they hide right in line with the rest of your inbox. Click fraud anyone?

  • VayaconMuerte

    Yahoo mail used to be my primary ‘turn-to’ e-mail account that I took seriously and made sure to check frequently. Then, Mayer came in, played e-mail ‘queen’ and quite-frankly, destroyed Yahoo e-mail (ask the British telecom that dropped 6-million users off of it overnight a couple of years ago), and then wants me to trust them to do ‘no passwords’ on a system that for a while couldn’t even save a draft letter correctly? No thanks, Yahoo, but you were the best agent for increasing Google Mail’s use since, well, Google Mail became your competitor. I now occassionally check Yahoo Mail, but check my Google Mail a few times a day. Lot to be said for professionalism. There’s also a lot to be said for being foolish enough to make authentication hard on your users while making hacking easier on your criminal parasites. Yahoo, Mayer, you are the best tools that hackers have developed in a while.

  • pablo_skils

    Great. With this new push device I can no longer access Flickr through Apple’s Photos app.

  • Duke of Dovsky

    Yahoo continues to be run by complete idiots who out of touch with users. It’s no wonder as they have no communication with users to speak of. I can’t even willfully locate the account manager to see how it works before using it. I don’t trust anything they do because there are so many problems, and hackings. I do not accept any method that is more intrusive. They keep asking for my cellphone number to verify something. Well, a. I don’t have a cellphone, and b. I would not ever give them my number as I don’t want them to use it, and as they get hacked frequently, I would not want the information stolen. It seems to me that the problem is, these companies don’t hire ordinary people to show them how it should work, and geeks will never understand ordinary people. I use yahoo as little as possible as a result.

    • Duke of Dovsky

      I guess this explains why, when I select “reply” to an email, instead of being able to reply, I have to wait, and then it goes into “contacts” inappropriately, trying to insert contacts that have nothing to do with replying to an email. Doesn’t anyone test anything before making it public?

  • Duke of Dovsky

    You know what? Write letters and postcards. Drop e-mail. It’s a waste of time and resources.

  • tek wyzrd

    Sorry but I REFUSE to give my phone number to Yahoo, Facebook or any other corporation that demands it. Not that it matters since I rarely use anything Yahoo offers since they destroyed My Yahoo and Yahoo mail a few years ago.