Skip to Content

AOL Instant Messenger Officially Ends Its 20-Year Run on Friday

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), the chat app that was a hallmark of the fledgling Internet-era in the 1990s, is officially shutting down on Friday. It’s time to say goodbye to the screen name that marked your puberty years. Say farewell to your buddy lists—there is no way to save or export them.

If you’re still using AIM, that gives you one day to find an alternative and rebuild your contact list. AIM will not automatically transfer all of your contacts to another service. All personal data associated with AIM will be deleted after December 15, 2017. The company says users can save their chat logs, but it must be done by Friday.

Users will still be able to use their email address to send and receive email, according to Oath (formerly AOL).

The death of AOL Instant Messenger marks the end of an era. For many, AIM was a key go-to communications channel. It was an easy-to-use tool that avoided the dreaded game of phone tag. But it was eventually undercut by newer apps like Facebook messenger, Slack, Google Hangout, and Google Chat.

Its path to extinction accelerated in 2014 when Apple’s Messages app for OS X (previously known as iChat) stopped supporting AIM. The aging messaging protocol, already in decline, slid further.

In October, Oath sent notices to past and current users of the service and posted a message on the AIM help page explaining why it’s shutting down the service.

“As we move forward, all of us at AOL (now Oath) are excited to continue bringing you new, iconic products and experiences,” according to the message.

There are still plenty of real-time messaging applications that have grown in popularity and now overshadow AIM. Slack and Yammer have become essential tools for businesses, as have Google Chat and Hangouts, Microsoft’s Skype, Twitter’s direct message feature, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and even LinkedIn.