Yes, people still use Yahoo Mail. According to one report from late 2019, there are more than 200 million active Yahoo email users responsible for more than 26 billion emails every day—all by themselves. But why would someone choose Yahoo Mail over Gmail?
Perhaps that’s a biased question. After all, there are more than 200 million people who find Yahoo email perfectly usable, and we’re a bunch of bona fide Gmail fanboys and fangirls.
So what are the differences between Gmail vs Yahoo Mail, and should these differences affect which one you use?
Table of Contents
- Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: The Basics
- Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Appearance and Usability
- Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Organization
- Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Access to Other Apps and Functions
- Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Addons and Extensions
- Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Security and Reliability
- The Bottom Line: Should You Choose Gmail or Yahoo Mail?
Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: The Basics
Let’s start with some of the basics, and look at what Gmail and Yahoo have in common. Both Gmail and Yahoo Mail have the similar foundational structure you’ve come to expect from nearly all email providers, including things like:
- Send, receive, and basic inbox functions. Gmail and Yahoo Mail fundamentally “work” the same way. Each service routes your message from server to server using the same protocols, for free, to get your message to a recipient. It doesn’t matter what kind of mail service your recipient is using. Also, all the core inbox functions you’ll immediately expect are present in both platforms, including the ability to mark as read/unread, delete messages, mark as spam, and so on. There aren’t many differences here.
- Message drafting functions. For the most part, drafting a message looks the same in both platforms. You’ll have access to the same formatting tools (including changing fonts, using bullet points, and including attachments). There are just a few minor differences, such as the placement of different functions and the accessibility of things like Google Drive.
- A desktop and mobile app. Both Gmail and Yahoo Mail offer a standard desktop version (with many layouts to choose from) and a mobile app to keep things simple on your mobile device.
- Contact management. And of course, both email platforms give you the tools necessary to keep track of people in your network. You can add new contacts, modify contacts, and get automatic prompts to complete familiar email addresses when you begin to enter them.
If all you’re concerned about is a bare-bones platform to send and receive messages, Gmail and Yahoo Mail are pretty much the same. But the similarities end here.
Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Appearance and Usability
Appearance and usability are somewhat subjective variables, but let’s take a look at them anyway.
In Gmail, by default, you’ll have your emails sorted into three main categories, laid out across the top of your inbox. The majority of the screen is occupied by individual lines, each representing a different email thread.
On the left are simple icons giving you access to functions like Inbox, Drafts, and Sent; you can hover over them to expand their descriptions. In the upper left is a button to Compose, and in the upper right, you’ll find Settings and more options for apps. If you’ve never used Gmail before, it’s easy to get started—and it performs very quickly.
Yahoo may have a similar appearance, depending on how you set it up. The screen is slightly more cluttered, with more space dedicated to functions (like Inbox, etc.) and advertising. Still, you can find nearly all the same features in all the same places. From a subjective standpoint, Yahoo seems to run slightly slower than Gmail—likely due to the demands of more robust advertising.
Both Gmail and Yahoo Mail offer lots of options for how to customize your layout. You can align your messages differently, change the spacing of your inbox, and even use different colors and levels of brightness to make your screen more visible.
The mobile apps are also designed somewhat similarly. Each app offers emails from your inbox and other folders in an easily digestible, easy-to-finger-tap format. Again, you’ll have a number of customization options to tweak the appearance to your liking.
Overall, Gmail seems to be cleaner and more efficient from an aesthetic point of view (in line with Google’s brand standards), but both platforms are fairly accessible and easy to understand.
Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Organization
Let’s talk about organization.
By default, both platforms have a lot in common. You can mark messages as important, or mark them with a star to distinguish them further. You can sort your inbox and search for messages. You can mark messages as spam, delete them, or archive them. You can even mark messages as read or unread. But from there, the platforms diverge.
For starters, each platform has a different system for managing different types of emails high-level. In Gmail, you’ll have access to different default categories, like Social, Promotions, and Forums; these categories will serve as separate, mini-inboxes to keep track of notifications and alerts that don’t belong in your main inbox.
You can change which of these categories appear and how they work in the Settings menu. Yahoo Mail has something similar—a number of “Views,” including Photos, Documents, Deals, Receipts, Groceries, and Travel. Yahoo will automatically detect which messages belong in these categories, and display them all at once. Both functions are similar, but may be more or less useful depending on how you wish to use them.
By default, Yahoo Mail functions with the folder system you might recognize from Outlook. Each folder contains individual emails as a kind of separate inbox, allowing you to stay organized. In Gmail, the system is slightly different, relying on Labels; the key advantage with Labels is that you can assign many different labels to a single email, rather than exclusively sending it to a single folder.
Each platform also allows you to search your inbox and/or set up automatic filters for incoming emails. However, the filters in Gmail are much more robust; for example, in Yahoo, you’re limited to only filtering messages by sending them to a specific folder. In Gmail, you’ll be able to take more complex actions, like automatically marking them.
Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Access to Other Apps and Functions
Google and Yahoo aren’t just mail providers; they each offer a suite of other apps and functions for their users, and many of these apps and functions are available within each respective email platform. Accordingly, you can think of each email platform as a kind of gateway or hub that leads to these other areas. Depending on which set of apps and bonus features you prefer, you may lean toward one or the other.
For example, in Yahoo Mail, you can quickly access a calendar, a notepad, and a number of other Yahoo apps like News, Finance, Sports, Fantasy, Politics, and Celebrity news. If you care about these things, or if you like how Yahoo presents and organizes them, Yahoo Mail can be a convenient home base for your online interactions.
The same can be said of Gmail, but it has access to a much wider range of tools. You’ll have access to a calendar and note-taking app, but also a task management app (Tasks), and other Google tools like Drive, News, YouTube, Maps, Translate, and Photos. Additionally, Google has some bonus features in Gmail that aren’t present in Yahoo Mail, including the ability to “snooze” incoming messages for later, and experimental features you can toggle on or off in the Settings menu.
Unless you have a strong preference for Yahoo’s built-in news apps, Gmail is the clear winner here.
Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Addons and Extensions
We can also think about the add ons and extensions available for each email platform, which have the ability to modify or enhance your experience in different ways.
For example, in Gmail, you’ll have access to the G Suite Marketplace, an open platform where you can search for G Suite apps and third-party extensions that can improve your experience in one way or another. Many of these apps are free, and some are paid, but all of them can alter your Gmail experience. For example, you might integrate with a project management platform to automatically turn your emails into tasks, or you might use a data analytics app to visualize your Gmail activity and improve your email efficiency.
One of the greatest perks of working with Google apps is Google’s universal openness to other developers. They’re easy to get along with, and they make it as easy as possible to build compatible tools and integrations. Accordingly, by using Gmail, you’ll be giving yourself the widest possible range of services to choose from.
Yahoo doesn’t provide the same level of flexibility. There’s no built-in marketplace to explore, and there aren’t many Yahoo-specific addons or extensions you can use to modify your experience. Instead, if you want a different Yahoo Mail experience, you’ll need to rely on browser extensions.
Gmail vs Yahoo Mail: Security and Reliability
Whether you’re emailing in a personal or professional context, you should be thinking about your email security. Can you be sure your email account is uncompromised with either platform?
Obviously, there’s no such thing as perfect security, but Google and Yahoo have different reputations when it comes to protecting consumer data. Notably, there have been several Yahoo data breaches over the past decade.
The first and most significant breach was back in 2013, when an unauthorized third party gained access to more than 3 billion accounts. Apparently not learning its lesson, Yahoo suffered another breach in 2014, getting data from more than 500 million accounts—including account names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, hashed passwords, and some security questions and answers. And in 2016, account names and passwords for 200 million Yahoo accounts were found for sale on the darknet market site “TheRealDeal.”
Hypothetically, Yahoo has learned from the fallout and negative press associated with these security breaches, but its reputation may never fully recover. Google, by contrast, has had relatively few security scandals; there was a 2018 data breach related to the Google+ API, but this had little to do with Gmail.
Gmail also has a handful of bonus security features you can use to improve the security of your messages. For example, when composing a new message, you can click on the lock-and-clock icon at the bottom of the draft window to activate “confidential mode.”
Here, you can set an expiration date for your message, so it can’t be accessed beyond that date and time. You can also require a SMS-based passcode to access your message, a kind of two-factor authentication to prove your message is only reaching your intended recipient.
The Bottom Line: Should You Choose Gmail or Yahoo Mail?
So, in the question of Gmail vs Yahoo Mail, Gmail is the clearly superior email platform.
Yahoo Mail certainly isn’t bad—it has most of the same features that Gmail has, and a few unique perks like useful custom views for certain types of messages and access to Yahoo’s news services. However, it can’t compete with the number of advantages Gmail has.
Gmail is perceptively faster, it has a cleaner layout, it’s generally considered more secure, it has more options for filters and organization, and its open nature means you’ll be able to modify your experience with literally hundreds of different addons and extensions.
If you’re a current Yahoo Mail user, you may consider switching to Gmail; the process is relatively easy, and can be followed step-by-step in the Settings menu, under the Accounts and Import tab. And if you’re starting an account from scratch, lean toward starting your journey with Gmail.
Be sure to check out our other posts comparing Gmail with popular email providers!
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Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.