Helpdesk Challenge – how to leave your AOL, BT or TalkTalk email account

Don’t let your AOL, BT or TalkTalk email account hold you back from switching broadband providers.

Switching to a free webmail account like Gmail or Outlook means that your email address will always remain independent of your broadband provider. This means you’ll never be tied to an ISP that offers slow speeds, poor service or pricey deals.

And the best news? Setting up a webmail account is free and easy to do – just follow our straightforward step by step guide.

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1. Sign up for a webmail account

Webmail step1

Start by choosing a free webmail service from one of the top providers. We’d recommend one of Yahoo! Mail, Gmail and as they’re all easy to use and regularly updated with useful new features.

We’re going to use Gmail as our example, so head to and, if you don’t already have a Google account, click the Create an account button in the top right.  Follow the remaining on-screen instructions until setup is complete.

2. Save your old emails

Webmail step2
Most ISP email accounts work using something called POP3. Basically, this means that your emails are downloaded from the provider’s servers and are stored on your PC. This is done via an email program such as Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail.

If this is the case for you, the simplest thing to do is leave your old emails where they are. Even if you eventually close your ISP account and deactivate your old address, you’ll still be able to browse your previously sent or received messages by opening the email program.

3. Migrate old emails to a new account

Webmail step3
In some cases, such as AOL, emails aren’t downloaded to your PC; they are stored in the cloud and will become inaccessible if you deactivate your account altogether. Don’t panic, you can get round this issue by migrating your old emails to your new webmail account.

For Gmail, use its Mail Fetcher tool. In Gmail, click the cog icon on the right, then choose Settings. Click the Accounts link then click to Add a POP3 mail account you own. Enter your old email address when prompted and follow the on-screen instructions.

4. Transfer your contacts

Webmail step4
Can’t be bothered to manually type all your contacts into a new webmail account? Good news, there’s almost always a way to transfer your whole address book in one go.

To export your contacts from Windows Live Mail, for example, click Contacts, then click the Export button and select Comma separated values (.CSV). Click Browse, give the file a name and save it to your desktop by clicking Save > Next > Finish.

To import them into Gmail, click Mail on the left and select Contacts. From the More menu, select Import > Choose File. Locate the CSV file and click Import.

5. Redirect mail to your webmail inbox

Webmail step6edit
If you’ve used the method outlined in Step 3 to migrate your old messages using Gmail’s Mail Fetcher tool, then any new emails sent to your old address will be automatically redirected to your webmail. Alternatively, most ISPs let you set up email forwarding – the method will vary depending on your ISP.

With BT Connect, for example, log in to, click Manage Services > Email Summary, then highlight your email address in the box, click Email Forwarding > Edit then enter your Gmail address and click Save > OK.

6. Further steps

Now you’ve got a shiny new email account it’s time to notify your friends of your new address and update your details on any online services you regularly use such as Amazon or your bank. Don’t forget to do this before you terminate your broadband contract; some services may send a verification to your old email address, so it will still need to be active.

More on this…

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25 replies

  1. I have, for a number of sites, used my e-mail address as user-name, as this seems to be suggested quite often. What would be the implications of changing to webmail in these cases, and how would the change be effected if necessary? Thank you.

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  2. I changed from AOL as my ISP several years ago to BT and still retained several AOL email addresses. I didn’t do anything; just kept on using them as before. I’ve even downloaded the destop ap when I changed laptops. I’m guessing AOL need the advertising revenue to exist anyway so they wouldn’t want to loose ‘viewers’. A friend of mine did the same change a month or so ago from AOL to BT and he continues with his AOL email address.

  3. I have just changed from AOl to BT, I have also just got a new computer. I wanted to keep my aol email address and I wondered if there is any simple way of just getting my aol mail sent to the Bt home page?

    Otherwise do I have to keep logging onto aol every day to find my emails.

    I don’t want to add loads of google, and outlook and other accounts to this new computer, just wondered if there was some simple way of re directing the mail? thanks

  4. AOL mail is a webmail product. As far as I understand it is independent of having AOL as your ISP. AOL Mail is just like Gmail or Hotmail.

  5. I want to take aol mail off my P.C. as I am now using windows live mail but AOL keep bouncing me back and forth to different phone numbers.Every phone call sends me back to the original number with no resolution to my problem. Can anyone advise me how to get this system off my computer??

  6. Gmail – I can’t find my in box! BT are closing my account in days and I’m lost trying to set up a new email address and migrate my emails. Help

  7. I have an old talktalk email account. It has been hacked and causing me a problem but I cannot disable it as I have swithched to BT and I unable to access my talktalk account. How do I disable my talktalk account?

    1. Hi Carol. Did TT ever disable your account as you wished? They seem unable/unwilling to close my old TT url even though I Ieft the dreadful provider four years ago to switch to Virgin and then the much better MacAce. Spam and scam are now pouring in from the old url every day – and this has become truly scary after the hack revelations this week (Oct 22, 2015).
      Regards, Howard.

  8. I am going to change my email account to on of your recommended accounts.
    Can any email I receive in future automaticly be redirected to my new account or do I have to notify my contacts of new address.
    Thanks and regards from John

  9. Shame on Which? for recommending a ‘free’ email account without mentioning the downsides. Both Google and Yahoo mine your ‘free’ email to determine your interests and advertise to you wherever you go online. Both of these are also within the scope of the US National Security Agency’s PRISM cyber-spying regime.

    If you want free email that is not mined or snooped on then GMX.COM is a good choice because it’s hosted in Germany, not USA, and is subject to Germany’s strict privacy laws. It doesn’t have as good a webmail interface as the others but you should be moving off POP3 and onto IMAP if you haven’t already to allow you to have a single consistent view of all your email whether you are reading it on your phone, tablet or PC and webmail doesn’t feature.

    I have combined GMX with a personal domain name registration allowing @ to be forwarded to GMX. This gives me total freedom to ditch GMX in future without changing my personal email address. Right now I’m using blogs.which@ and if it falls into the wrong hands then it’s just one address to block to stop the spam. It enables me to say with absolute certainty that it was The Motley Fool that passed on my details to Virgin Wines, because Virgin’s spam was sent to motleyfool@. That’s blocked now of course :) Spam free, forever!

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  11. I phoned talk talk on 17th Nov.2014 to cancel my phone line as I was moving house and now I have discovered the have taken almost £500 from my bank for monthly billing , I left my old address on 26th nov. 2014 and have not been using my old phone. I contacted talk talk and told them all of this and they say they have no record of my cancellation , all they have to do is check and they will see there has been no activity on my previous phone line , I requested that they refund my money but was told no ,after further communication I was told that the CEO would contact me which has not happened , what recourse do I have , I’ve been trying to find an address to write to them but have been unable to do so , their customer service is atrocious so be warned , I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with a more unreliable company … I’m really angry at how I have been treated I’m fuming .

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