We all know how complicated and confusing computers and the internet are, especially for the elderly. Let’s face it, navigating through websites and getting around the internet can seem like a daunting task if you don’t know what you’re doing, and especially if you are an older person or a beginner who’s just starting to explore the web and other digital technologies.
Although the internet has its own dangers and risks, it’s also a place full of useful tools and resources, and one of the most important things that the internet has to offer is email, because it is by far one of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to communicate, share, and connect with family and friends no matter where they are.
Unfortunately there aren’t that many email solutions for seniors available right now. Don’t get me wrong though, services like Outlook/Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail and even Lycos Mail are incredibly simple and easy to use, but if you’re new to the whole “internet thing” you probably won’t feel the same way as I do, because these services were not created specifically for older people who are just getting started online, so it might be hard for some users to navigate and figure out how those sites actually work.
Maybe you’re not having problems with the technology itself, maybe you have low vision and popular free online webmail services (like the ones mentioned above) are just not gonna cut it, because their user interfaces don’t have big buttons, big text, and highly intuitive user interfaces like those of PawPawMail, Red Stamp Mail, Intouchlink, and other services that we’ll discuss below.
But don’t worry, there’s people out there and also companies who actually care, that’s why we are still able to find sites out in the wild that provide ageing users with exactly the tools and information they need to get started with things as simple as email, and even more advanced online communication tools like Skype.
And we’re not only going to help you find them, we are also going to help you decide which of these services is the best for you, and we’re going to show you how to set up an account on every single one of them so you can start using the one you like the most right now.
This guide is ideal for both caregivers and seniors who are already feel comfortable using technological tools such as computers and the internet, so it is basically well suited for most users. In fact, I believe it’s so simple that even folks born in the 1930’s will be able to follow the instructions that they’ll find in this page, as long as they can read and make a few clicks here and there they’re good to go.
At the moment we only know of 5 sites that provide online tools and resources specifically developed for seniors who are just starting to explore the internet, some of these services are free to use, others will require you to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee.
Actually, to be honest with you, none of these services are free, except for the fifth on our list which is Gmail, and the only reason why I decided to include it in this list is because having a Gmail account is absolutely necessary if you want to sign up for any of the services mentioned on this page, and also because it’s just as simple and easy to use as all the others.
Although most of the services we mention here are geared towards seniors, this one in particular (Gmail or Google Mail as some people like to call it), despite not being specifically created for ageing users is just as easy to use as all the others included in this guide. Of course, it lacks some important features like big buttons and big text for example, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Google comes up with some kind of setting called “Gmail for Seniors” that you can turn on and off with just one click of a button to make it more senior friendly in the future, who knows.
Before we continue, I want to briefly explain why we didn’t include email only devices like MailBug, by Landel, and the now discontinued Mailstation which was sold by Earthlink back in the day, because to be honest with you these devices are not as senior friendly as you would expect them to be. Their screens are too small, also the text they display is too small making it hard to read, and they’re not as easy to use as advertised. In fact, they don’t even support images so I don’t think they’re the best option to feel close to your loved ones, especially in this day and age.
We also didn’t talk about fax based email machines for seniors like Celery’s Computerless email service which allows you to read printed out emails and send back handwritten responses via fax, because I believe the whole process to be a little bit time consuming, don’t you think? Email was created to provide an easy way to communicate with people all around as quickly as possible, so I believe that services like Celery and the now defunct Sunnygram are not the way to go.
Instead of adding those old devices to this list, we included new mobile email only devices and apps that have all the tools and features that a senior needs. The grandPad tablet for seniors and the Symmpl app for iPad are both a much better option than Celery or MailBug, no offense, and you’ll learn more about them below.
Best Email for Seniors
Below you will find a list of email services for seniors, along with their features, pricing plans (if they have any), how to start using them, and more. So without further ado, here’s what you’ve been looking for:
PawPawMail is probably the most popular email service for seniors on this list, it has been around for quite some time now, and it has definitely proved its worth.
What makes it so special? Well, it provides a simple and straightforward user interface that anyone can figure out, so you can easily learn how to use it even if you’re brand new to computers and the internet. It also provides users with large text and very big buttons so they can quickly find anything they want.
Unfortunately PawPawMail does not offer free basic accounts, but you can get a free 10 day trial to check it out if you’re interested. However, once the time is up you’ll have to start paying $8 per month or $65 per year.
I recommend using the free trial to give the service a test run before you commit to it. Below you’ll find detailed instructions on how to create a @PawPawMail address and get a free trial as well.
How to Create PawPawMail Account
- Go to https://pawpawmail.com/pmapp/user/signup?trial=1
- Fill out the registration form, enter both your and your assistant’s information. If don’t have an assistant, you can fill out that part with your information. However, most of the time is the assistant the one who creates the account for a loved one such as a parent, grandparent, or any person close to them who needs an incredibly easy to use email service. In the first part of the registration form enter the user’s information. First select a username which could be something like “firstname.lastname@example.org” for example, enter your name, create a password, and then confirm your new password to make sure it was typed in correctly.
- Now enter the assistant’s information in the second part of the registration form. You’ll need to provide basic info like your assistant’s name, email, phone, etc.
- Select a subscription plan, check the box to let them know that you have read, understood, and accepted the terms of agreement, and then click “Create Account”.
I believe PawPawMail is the best option apart from Gmail, at PawPawMail you get your own @pawpawmail.com address, and you probably won’t need anyone to help you out setting things up because it offers a unique, unintimidating interface that almost anyone can figure out.
This is probably one of the newest email services available for seniors on the web, it’s probably just as good maybe even better than PawPawMail, however, it is not as well known and it hasn’t received the same kind of attention, which in my opinion, it deserves.
What makes InTouchLink special? It has larger buttons than most services, it also has a simplified interface and will read the text to you if needed. This service was designed to be easier for those with no technology experience and also to help people with lower eyesight.
InTouchLink offers a simple and intuitive interface that allows seniors to easily and quickly access email, use the internet, and more. Users can also access their email account on any device such as PC, Mac, iPad, or any other device, and they can customize it specifically to their needs.
The only problem with InTouchLink email is that it is not free, you can get a limited one month free trial, but after that you’ll have to pay $13.75 monthly or $150 annually.
You can try out the service for one month, no strings attached by following these steps:
How to Create an InTouchLink Account
- Go to http://intouchlink.com/sign-up
- Fill out the registration form with the required information like your name, location, etc.
- Now select “One Month Free Trial” from drop-down menu located in the “Plan” section at the bottom of the sign up form and click on “Next Step”.
- Follow the steps on the screen to set up your account settings and complete the registration process.
Red Stamp Mail
Red Stamp Mail is another email service for seniors that’s worth trying out.
What makes it special? It was specifically designed for older people, it is completely web based so there’s no need to download or install anything, and it even works with an existing email address in case you already had one.
I’m going to be honest with you, Red Stamp Mail seemed like a great option at first, but as I read more about it, I realized that the system is not as easy to use as you would expect. In fact, I found out that it actually requires you to already have an existing working email address, which means that you will first have to create a Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo Mail account in order to be able to set up your Red Mail Stamp account.
I don’t know about you, but in my humble opinion having to create an email address using another mail provider defeats the whole purpose of this guide, which was created to help the elderly get started with email on their own.
On the other hand, if you have someone that can help you create a Gmail account for example, and then help you link your new Gmail account to Red Stamp Mail so you can take advantage of the large buttons and other features that make it a great fit for seniors, great! In that case, using Red Stamp Mail wouldn’t be a bad idea, and that’s the only reason why I decided to keep it on this list.
If you are able to set up a Red Stamp Mail account, you’ll be able to enjoy a very good service that shows your mail in a clear, simple, and organized format, grouped by day of arrival so you can easily and quickly find the messages that you’re looking for.
Red Stamp Mail also offers large buttons that specify in clear detail what you can do with each message, message information and attached files are shown in a clear, concise, and prominently way with thumbnails so you can see and know for sure what that email message contains. The service also provides you with a simple contact list and it is iPad compatible.
You can give Red Stamp Mail a try for 30 days free of charge by following the steps below:
How to Create a Red Stamp Mail Account
- Go to https://redstampmail.com/accounts/join/
- Fill out the registration form. Just enter an existing email address, your password, and then click “Continue”.
- Now you will be instructed to set up a shortcut icon for quick access to your mailbox. However, this step is optional, so you can skip it if you want.
- When you get to your inbox you’ll first need to authorize Red Mail Stamp to access the email account that you used to sign up in order to pull your messages from that site. For example, I used Gmail create an account, therefore I get a message that says “Google needs you to authorize Red Stamp Mail to access your account”. So go ahead on click on the “Continue” button to authorize access to your account.
- Access your Google account using your Gmail login credentials.
Email Only Mobile Device and Apps (grandPad and Symmpl)
Symmpl is another email service for the elderly, but it has some underlying differences when compared to the other services on this list. For starters, Symmpl is not just an email service, it’s basically a suite of products for the elderly, and it is only available as an app for iPad devices, which means that you must have an iPad before you can start using it.
Symmpl turns iPads into email devices for senior citizens, probably the only real email device for seniors that works great even for those of you without a computer. Even though you’ll need an iPad, getting one is probably still cheaper than getting an decent computer, so this mobile app service is one that you definitely want to consider.
If you already have an iPad, you can download the app from the Apple App Store. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the app on your iPad you will have access to lots of fun and useful features such as Email (allows you to send and receive email messages without even typing), Symantha (a virtual assistant that will guide you through every activity), easy photos, easy contacts, easy Facebook, and more.
Unfortunately, just like some of the other email services for seniors on this list, you will need to have a Gmail account to set up Symmpl email, and you will probably also need someone to help you out set up the whole thing. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend this solution either, because let’s say you don’t have anyone to help you out, that means you would have to figure out how to create a Gmail account all by yourself, and if you are already smart and tech-savvy enough to create a Gmail or Outlook account, why switch to one of these services that cost money and seem to be lacking features when compared to Google’s free email service?
As I mentioned earlier, to join Symmpl you will need an iPad, if you already own an iPad, then you can download the app to create an account here in order to try out the service for 30 days free of charge.
grandPad is a simple and secure tablet specifically designed for seniors that provides them with an innovative way to connect with loved ones without the complicated features of other tablets such as an iPad. The grandPad tablet comes equipped with large buttons and an intuitive interface that allows seniors the elderly to easily start a video chat, share pictures, and connect with their loved ones all around the world.
grandPad is a subscription service that comes with a tablet and accessories designed to make your device more senior friendly, comfortable and ergonomic. Another great thing about the grandPad tablet is that all of the user’s preferences and contacts come preloaded so you can start using it right out of the box. Apart from email, the tablet also includes software and apps that allow users to video chat, share photos, make calls, and more. But I really like the most is its Private Family Network feature which allows family members to update phone numbers, create new contacts, and change options as well.
The grandPad tablet subscription costs $49 a month if billed annually or $66 a month if billed monthly. You can learn more about it here.
Gmail (for Seniors)
Last but not least, Google’s own free email service Gmail. Although the sign up process might seem a bit confusing at first, it actually isn’t, in fact, creating an account is incredibly easy and we are going to show you how to do it right now.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, probably the best email service for both beginners and advanced users is Gmail, I mean it really doesn’t get any more straightforward than this. It’s simple, feature rich, easy to use, and free. In fact, I think that if you’re tech-savvy enough to figure out how to use a web browser and access websites like this one, then you already have everything you need to start using Google’s email service.
As I mentioned earlier, even though Gmail was not specifically created for older people, and a Gmail for seniors version of this service still doesn’t exist, it was a project definitely developed with beginners in mind, so doing basic things like creating an account, logging in, composing, receiving and reading messages is something that almost anyone will be able to do without any problems at all.
The only problem is that Gmail doesn’t come with big buttons and very large text in order to make things easier for the elderly, but you can change the font size and the text style to make the text in your inbox and your messages a lot bigger, as well as easier to read. Another thing you can do is enable the preview pane to quickly scan all your messages without having to open each and every one of them.
To change the text style and make the font bigger, go to “Settings” by clicking on the gear icon on the top right side of your screen, then go to “General Settings”, scroll down to “Default text style” and change your body text to “Huge”.
But before I show you how to do that let me tell you what makes Gmail so great?
First of all, unlike all the other email services on this list, Gmail is free to sign up and use (forever), it also offers a whopping 15 GB of free storage, tabbed inbox for easier navigation, chat, mobile apps, multi-language support, custom themes, pane view, and a lot more.
I also added Gmail because most solutions on this list require you to have another email account in order to be able to sign up for their services, so I feel it is necessary to provide at least some kind of information on how to set up a free email account at Gmail.com.
To access Gmail you will need a Google account. Use the link below to check out our super easy guide on how to set up your own Google account:
Once you’ve created your Google account go to Gmail.com to sign in using the same username and password that you entered to create your new Google account.
You can also go to Gmail and create an account directly from there. Simply do this:
- Go to Gmail.com.
- Click on the “More Options” link.
- Select the “Create Account” option.
- Fill out the registration form.
- Click “Next Step”.
- Follow the instructions on your screen to complete the registration process and set up your new Gmail account.
Now you know which are the best email services for seniors, if you happen to know about other worthy services you think should be on this list, please let us know.