Yahoo email update follows in Google's footsteps

Yahoo's redesigned email, unveiled Oct. 8, 2013, includes Yahoo's redesigned email, unveiled Oct. 8, 2013, includes a Gmail-like tool that will thread together emails related to specific topics so they appear as a succession of messages. Photo Credit: Yahoo

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Yahoo's free email service is becoming a bit more like Google's Gmail as part of its second makeover in less than a year.

The similarities to Gmail probably aren't coincidental. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer helped design some of Gmail's features while she was a top executive at Google Inc. Since its debut nearly a decade ago, Gmail has grown into the world's most popular email service.

Yahoo's redesigned email unveiled Tuesday includes a Gmail-like tool that will thread together emails related to specific topics so they appear as a succession of messages. The "conversation view" has become a widely used email feature since Gmail helped popularize the concept after it embraced the format in 2004.

Yahoo users can turn off the tool if they want.

Another new feature enables users to decorate their inboxes with pictures plucked from the company's photo-sharing service, Flickr. Gmail has been allowing its users to spruce up their inboxes with various themes for years.

And Yahoo is promising each email account a maximum of one terabyte, or about 1,000 gigabytes, of storage. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company says that amount should be enough to cover the storage needs of its average email user for about 6,000 years. Yahoo Inc. had previously promised its email users that they would never run out of storage, but it hadn't established a specific limit.

Since defecting from Google 15 months ago, Mayer has been revamping many of Yahoo's services in an attempt to attract more Web surfers and bring in more revenue from ads. Yahoo's ad sales remain lackluster at a time Google and Facebook Inc. are enjoying strong growth, but Mayer says the number of monthly visitors to the company's services has increased by 20 percent to 800 million people since her arrival.

Yahoo email now has about 289 million monthly users worldwide, second only to Gmail at 304 million, according to research firm comScore Inc.

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