How to Change the Default Email Program for Mailto: Links

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How to Change the Default Email Program for Mailto: Links

When you click on an email-address-turned-link (also known as a mailto: link) on any online page or in any desktop software on your computer, it opens a compose window in your operating system’s default mail client. When using a third-party email client or even a webmail provider, this is quite inconvenient.

Wouldn’t you rather have mailto: links open in your email application instead? That is precisely what will happen if you configure your email application to be the default handler for mailto: links. That’s what we’ll show you.

Opening Mailto: Links in Webmail

If you prefer the webmail experience, depending on your browser and webmail provider, let’s look at how you can make the two operate together to handle mailto: links.

In Chrome

Sign in to Gmail (this only works if you are logged in) and search for the handler icon. It appears as a pair of gray overlapping diamond shapes next to the address bar’s star emblem.

When you click on the handler symbol, a popup menu will appear, and you must pick the Allow option to guarantee that Gmail opens all email links in the future.

Is there no handler symbol in the address bar? You may have modified the default behavior in Chrome settings. No worries.

Expand Additional rights and choose Protocol handlers under Settings > Security and Privacy > Site Settings. Select the radio option next to Sites may ask to handle protocols in this section. If you’ve inadvertently disabled a site from handling protocols, you may unblock it here.

In Firefox

Go to Settings > Privacy & Security, scroll down to Applications, and check for the mailto option under Content Type. You may choose which email software to use from the dropdown menu next to it. Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, or any other desktop email client such as Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook might be used.

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To connect to a desktop client, choose the Use Other… option from the dropdown menu and browse to your email application using Explorer (or Finder on a Mac).

Other relevant choices in the mailto dropdown menu include:

  • Always ask – On a case-by-case basis, to define the email software that opens a mailto: link.
  • To have mailto: URLs from Firefox open in Chrome, use Googlemail. Of course, if you haven’t already enabled Chrome to open mailto:links, you’ll simply receive a blank new tab.
  • Use other… – Select an external software to start with Firefox.

To open mailto: links in other webmail clients, look for a solution under Firefox add-ons.

In Safari and Opera

Whatever webmail provider you choose, if you’re using Safari or Opera, you’ll have to rely on an extension. Mailto for Safari and Gmail Compose for Opera are both options.

In Microsoft Edge

Because Edge is built on Chromium, it functions similarly to Chrome. Open Gmail, click the handler symbol in the URL bar, and then choose Allow to make mailto: links open in Gmail. You can accomplish the same thing with other webmail applications that provide a handler, such as Yahoo and

If you don’t see the handler icon, go under Settings > Cookies and site permissions > Protocol handlers.

Opening Mailto: Links in a Desktop Email Client

If you’ve abandoned webmail in favor of a desktop email client, make the latter the default handler for email links that occur in any software or on any web page.

If you’ve elected to continue with the mail client that comes with your operating system, there’s nothing you need to setup. However, if you use a third-party email client, such as Thunderbird, you may make it the system-wide default for anything email-related. Here’s how to accomplish that with the major three desktop operating systems.

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On Windows 7 and later, go to Control Panel > Programs > Default Programs > Set Associations and choose Associate a file type or protocol with a program. Now, scroll down to the Protocols section and double-click on the MAILTO row.

You’ll then be able to choose an email client from the window that opens (if you already have it installed on your machine). You may also download an email software from the Windows Store and instantly connect it with the popup’s mailto: URLs.

On Windows 11, just follow the steps above, which will take you to the Settings app. So begin in the settings app straight immediately.

Navigate to Apps > Default apps in the Settings app (Windows key + I). Search for “mailto” under Set a default for a file type or link type to bring up the Mail protocol. Select the appropriate software from the list by clicking it.

On macOS, launch the Mail app and choose the email software you wish to use as the default from the Default email reader box under Preferences > General. Yes, even if you wish to use a different email client as the default, you must start with Mail.

On Linux, make sure your email software is configured as the default application for email handling. The location of the default programs option may differ depending on the distribution you use.

On Ubuntu, it’s probably under System Settings > Details > Default Applications. Look for the Mail dropdown menu and choose your email software from there.

Opening Mailto: Links on Android

On Android, mailto: links will open in Gmail by default. To change your default email app, go to Settings, Applications & notifications > Default apps, Mail app, and pick a new email app. You may also remove defaults from the app.

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Remember that if you don’t have an alternative to the default email software installed on your Android device, mailto: links will connect you to the default app, which is usually Gmail.

A Word About iOS

My search for an iOS option, program, or tweak that allows you to modify mailto: associations came up empty. If you have better results, please let me know in the comments!

Associate Mailto: With Your Email Client

Setting up your preferred email client to handle mailto: links is a one-time change that requires no effort. Even if it seems to be a little improvement, you will appreciate how it improves your productivity.

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