How to make Gmail your default email program in Windows XP and Windows 7

One of the annoying things for people to try to figure out is how to make Gmail your default email account when clicking on mailto: links on web sites. By default, Windows will automatically try to open your Outlook account. This can be very annoying to a lot of people as the average user will have a web-based email client like Gmail/ Hotmail  etc instead of a program based one installed on their machines. Therefore if, like me, you click on a mailto: link when trying to contact someone on a site, Windows will try to open Outlook.

In this tutorial I will show you how to make Gmail your default email application in both Windows XP and Windows 7 via a step by step process. This is very simple and hopefully helpful. For both of these tutorials, I am assuming you have either Windows XP/ Windows 7 and a Gmail account already.

First we will deal with Windows XP.

Go to the Google toolbar site and download the Gmail Notifier here, then accept the Terms of Service and install it. Note that Gmail introduced HTTPS  by default on January 13th 2010, and this Notifier was written prior to this so you will need to make a small reg edit after installing the program for it to work correctly. You can get the reg edit from here. Simply un-zip the two files and double-click on the one called [notifier_https.reg]. Allow your computer to make the changes and reboot for the registry edit to take place. (source of program) You won’t have to use this for the other program (Notifier for Windows 7) below.

Once this is installed you will be greeted with a window in the top left corner of your screen where you will need to input your email address and password as shown below:

input details after install

Make sure you check the ‘Remember my credentials’ box, so that it won’t keep asking you after every time you start your computer. Then click ‘OK’ and you will notice that a blue envelope icon (note: This will be white when there are no email unread) now appears in your task bar to the left of your clock. Now right-click on the Notifier Icon and select ‘Options’

right click option

The options window will enable you to make Gmail the default email for your mailto: links in multiple browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. For me personally Chrome is my main browser, so I would select Chrome and then ‘OK’

gmail notifier options

You can check to see if you have done it correctly, but clicking on my mailto: link here

That’s it you’re done!

Windows 7

Next we will look at how to do this in Windows 7 using another program called Gmail Notifier for Windows 7 which you can download here.

Once you have installed the program you will see the following window where you get to select you language:

1st window language selection

Once you have clicked on your language preference it will then show you the next window where you will need to input your email address and password

2nd window input user details

Once you have done that and clicked ‘OK’ you will notice the program icon (displayed as a red envelope) to the left of your clock in the task bar. Now to enable Gmail to be your default mailto: you have to go to the program options by right clicking on the envelope icon in the task bar and selecting ‘Preferences’

preferences screen

You straight away notice that this program has a lot more options that the Gmail Notifier for XP does. First select the ‘Use Gmail for Mail To Links’ which will set the program to automatically open your Gmail account when you click on an email link on any website.

There are a few other options that I personally like to disable as I find then distracting. These are the ‘Sound Alert’ and ‘Tray Icon Blink’ options. If however you want to have a sound alert (the default one is a lady’s voice saying ‘Incoming Message’) you can select your own by clicking the ‘Select Sound File’ button at the bottom of the preferences screen and pointing to a sound file you have. Here is a great selection of free to download and use sound files that will work for you. They range from famous lines in films to sound effects. The program can only use .wav files (not mp3) so make sure you download the correct file type.  Again, if you want to test to see of you have done this correctly, you can test it by clicking on my mailto: link here.

This program supports the following languages:

  1. English,
  2. Français,
  3. Español,
  4. Italiano,
  5. Deutsch,
  6. Dutch,
  7. Русский, (Russian)
  8. Polski, (Polish)
  9. 日本語, (Japanese)
  10. 中文, 한국어 (Chinese)

For Mac OSX

Greg Miller, a software engineer for Google wrote an application that may help Mac users. I am unable to actually test this program as I do not use a Mac. If you do try this program, please let me know if it worked OK?

Firefox Users

At the top of your browser go, Tools>Options>Applications. Select Gmail to handle mailto: links.

gmail choose option in firefox

That’s it, you’re done!


  1. hey what about me? I don’t know what happened… would like to make comcast email my default program, because I can view both comcast and gmail in that program.

  2. Sorry,but yes I have checked to make sure that the mailto: link is checked.

  3. I understand, what about windows live, can I make this program the default? Uggh!! smh!! frustrating!! thx :)

  4. thankyou thankyou thankyou!!

  5. Awesome information! Got that finally fixed. Thanks for letting us know on the web.

  6. Jack Smith says:

    Pretty sure there is a google chrome plug in to do this now.

  7. This doesn’t work. I have IMAP enabled and it just doesn’t work. I tried it on a bunch of photos. I selected them, right clicked, selected “Send To”, selected “Email Recipient” and got the picture size box. I clicked on the “Attach” button. Then I got the message “There is no email program associated to perform the requested action”, blah, blah, blah.

    • Addendum: I just checked the preferences and “Use Gmail for mail to links” doesn’t get saved when I’ve selected it.

  8. This is hopeless for me. As soon as I click on the Gmail Notifier link, it tells me that it is not compatible the Google Toolbar. So what’s the use of that?


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  2. ledarskap says:


    Make Gmail default

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