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mailto-Emails to Webmail

When you find an Email on a website, but you want to open in your webmail!

This means you need to change your mailto settings in your browsers!

How many times have you clicked an email address on a webpage instead of copying it only to accidentally start Outlook or another desktop mail client?

Who uses desktop mail clients anymore? Many people these days are just keeping all their email in web-based services like Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo Mail.

When you click an email address your browser is handing off responsibility for a special kind of link, called mailto, to a desktop program.

But it doesn't have to be that way. In most modern Windows browsers you can turn a webmail account into your default email program. The only drawback is that setting a webmail service as your default is not system wide, meaning you have to set your preferred mail service as the default in each separate browser you use.

Update - June 6, 2020

With Windows 7 fallen behind and the new age of Windows 10 I realized this post needed an update.

It has been made simple for us all. To have a website E-mail address to default to your chosen Webmail account, all you need to do is add the mailto add-on to each of your favourite browsers.

Here are three of the most common link to get the mailto add-on: Chrome, Firefox & Opera

Old and outdated now.

How Too Make These Changes?

Changing the default mailto application handler to Outlook

Default Programs button Even when you have Outlook set as your default mail client in Windows, it may not have been set as the default handler for the mailto protocol itself.

You can change this in one of the following ways:

Method 1: Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista

Control Panel-> Programs-> Default Programs-> Set your default programs-> select Outlook (desktop)-> Either use “Set this program as default” to assign Outlook all the defaults it can have or use “Choose defaults for this program” to manually select the MAILTO protocol.

Method 2: Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista

Control Panel-> Programs-> Default Programs-> Associate a file type or protocol with a program-> scroll down to the protocol list-> select MAILTO-> click the Change program… button in the top right corner to set it to Outlook.

In Chrome

Sign into Gmail — this works only when you’re signed in — and look for the handler icon, which looks like a pair of grey overlapping diamond shapes, adjacent to the star icon in the address bar. Click on the handler icon and you’ll get a popup dialog where you’ll need to select the Allow option to ensure that Gmail opens all email links in future.

If you want Inbox instead of the old Google Mail to handle email links for you, click on the handler icon when you’re on inbox.google.com to make the change.

Can’t see the handler icon in the address bar? You might have changed its default behavior in Chrome settings. That’s not a problem though. Go to Settings > Show advanced settings… and under Privacy > Content settings… > Handlers, select the radio button next to Allow sites to ask to become default handlers for protocols (recommended) to get back the handler icon.

For other popular webmail clients that are not Gmail, the Chrome extension Mailto: offers the quickest way to set them as default handlers for mailto: links. It supports Outlook, Yahoo! Mail, FastMail, Zoho Mail, and AOL Mail right out of the box. If you use an email service that’s not part of this set, you can still configure that service using the add another service option.

In Firefox

Go to Firefox Options/Preferences > Applications and look for the mailto option under Content Type. The dropdown menu next to it is where you can specify which email program you want to use. It could be Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, or any other desktop email program such as Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook.

For linking to a desktop client, you’ll have to use the Use Other… option in the dropdown menu and navigate to your email program via Explorer (or via Finder, if you’re on a Mac).

The mailto dropdown menu has a couple of other useful options:

  • Always Ask – To specify an email program a mailto: link on a case by case basis.
  • Use Chrome – To have mailto: links from Firefox open in Chrome. Of course, you’ll just get a blank new tab in Chrome if you haven’t configured Chrome first to open mailto:links.

Can’t find your webmail service listed in the mailto dropdown menu? You need the MailtoWebmails add-on. It allows you to choose from various popular webmail services and configure any of them as the default handler for mailto: links in Firefox. If you can’t find the webmail you use in that list either, don’t worry. The add-on gives you the option to add it yourself.

Here are a few links for you to get more help to change your mailto options:


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