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!

  • steve raleigh

    Hello: thanks very much for the advice. I believe all is working well with one exception. I can click a link in Craigslist for example and it defaults to google, however, it defaults to a google email page which in not the page I originally set up. The footer signature is non existent in the new default page. Oddly enough however the emoticons are the same as my original page. I cc’d a copy to myself to check that the signature was not there and sure enough…nothing. Any additional help you can share would be greatly appreciated. Best Regards svr

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Steve,

    I tested this a moment ago and whenever I click on any email link, the email window looks the same. I have also checked this when clicking on multiple Craigslist email links.
    Can you take a look at Gizmodo’s About section here ( http://gizmodo.com/#!about ), and click on one of the email contacts there.
    The default window that Gmail opens up when using one of these programs will look slightly different, but that is normal. If you open up your Gmail the normal way and go to compose an email it will look like the normal default window.

    • steve raleigh

      Hi there: First let me thank you for your time and effort! Now here is the weird thing: As you stated all works perfectly when I click through gizmodo. Actually clicked several times to be sure. Then I went back to Craigslist, clicked 3 separate links…no signature at the bottom. Is it possible where Craigslist is so particular about anonymity that they have the ability to erase my signature when connecting to one of their links? Just a guess. Frankly it is not the end of the world…just very odd that (as far as I can tell so far) only Craigslist seems to have this affect. Thanks again for your consideration. BTW…I like your eyecon!

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Steve,

    Right I have just added a signature to my email, and it is as you say. The difference is, as far as I can see, is that when clicking on a Craigslist email ( http://brighton.craigslist.co.uk/sys/2308648954.html ) my signature disappears and instead the address of the seller is in it’s place ( http://brighton.craigslist.co.uk/sys/2308648954.html ). This does not occur when clicking on the Gizmodo email link.
    As far as I can see, neither Gizmodo nor Craigslist uses HTTPS (my Gmail account does) so I can only assume that it is a spam protection protocol for Craigslist users.
    Hope that makes sense? If I find any more information on it, I’ll let you know.

  • Colburn Dick

    Installed the notifier (XP) and it seems to be working but I never saw the input box for email address or password. When I tried to send a link it defaulted to Outlook and just sits in the outbox since it is not an active account. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Colburn,

    Do you have the Gmail Notifier icon in your Task Bar next to your clock? If so, Right Click on it and select ‘Preferences’. In the Preferences window, make sure that ‘Use Gmail for mailto links’ is checked.

  • http://www.wahonline.com/vi/?s1=andyndelaine Andy Sharp

    I did everything you suggested, and outlined in this article, but cannot get gmail to default as my email account on my laptop with Windows 7.

    GRRRRR…..!!!

    HELP….!!!

    Andy

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Andy,

    Did you try the suggestion comment above to Colburn? Which program did you end up using?

  • Colburn

    I have tried all of the suggestions and still have not been able to use GMail as the default for sending links, etc. Everything shows that is selected but it tries to send links through Outlook.

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Colburn,

    What OS are you using and which of the 2 programs did you end up using?

  • Colburn Dick

    I’m using XP Pro. My email is GMail. If I want to send a link I cut and paste it into an email.

  • melike

    Very useful and easy to understand article. It worked flawlessly. Thank you!

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Glad it helped melike.

  • http://gravatar.com/bahaar18 Bahaar Rizvi

    Hello,
    Thank you for the above solution however, how can I enable the system to automatically choose gmail when I want to attach a pdf or word file directly to gmail. This option works on Lotus Notes and I am trying to get something on the same lines. Kindly let me know.

  • Ilya

    Hey Thank you very much! Useful and simple

  • Steve

    I installed the notifier (Windows XP) and the icon has an explanation point on it and it tells me the service is not available. When I go to gmail by other routes it works. I assume Microsoft tries its best to make this difficult

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Steve,

    HTTPS will be enabled on your account by default (they started to roll this out from Jan 13th 2010) so in order for your notifier to work correctly you will have to add a reg edit. You can get this from the link below [1] In the second link [2] is where the link was originally posted on the Google groups board. That is also the way I still do it on my work machine.
    Let me know if that helps. You will want the [notifier_https.reg] file that is included in the zip folder. Just double click on it and allow it to make the changes to your registry. Reboot and you should be OK. This should only take about 10 secs to do plus a reboot.

    [1] http://www.google.com/url?sa=D&q=http://www.google.com/mail/help/downloads/notifier_https.zip&usg=AFQjCNET3QtePR5syAEy72urcJJSg98NPQ

    [2] http://groups.google.com/group/Gmail-Help-Logging-In-en/browse_thread/thread/c1270fcfffecd144?pli=1

  • Anonymous

    I am using Windows 7 and have done all as you say including checking the “use Gmail for mailto links”. I click ok and try it out but does not work. When i recheck preferences again its unset self. Can’t get check to remain

  • bev

    i followed your instructions and still got error IMAP!!

  • bev

    Okay update,, it now works.. thanks much!

    • bev

      Hi the gift… there is another problem,, gmail will not load as the default when trying to send off documents from microsoft office… how can i fix that?

      • http://techfleece.com thegift73

        Hi bev,

        Glad the first problem is resolved.

        I have just tried to do as you are doing, but it also will only open with Outlook instead of Gmail. This is probably down to the fact that Word will be looking for the program client email which is Outlook (hard coded into the program at a guess). Gmail is a web-based client, and I can’t seem to get it to get it to load Gmail instead. The Gmail Notifier that you used in the article about is aimed at Mailto: links on websites, and Word isn’t using this. Hope that made sense?
        I will have a play around and see if I can figure it out.

        [Update]

        Just found this program (gAttach) that might work for you. Let me know how it goes.

      • bev

        okay thanks! tried and it saved in my gmail drafts folder… THANKS MUCH!!!

      • http://techfleece.com thegift73

        No worries. Glad it’s sorted.

  • bev

    oh snap!
    having the same problem, followed the above instructions and changed to system default… clicked onto your test link and error prompt tells me that the default mail client is not properly installed. Now what?

  • bev

    Hey you know what, how can I make my comcast email the default? Maybe this will solve my problem because i have both comcast and gmail on the same program. thanks much!

  • Beth

    How do you do the same thing on a Mac using Entourage? Please and thank-you!

    Beth

  • http://techfleece.com thegift73

    Hi Beth,

    There is a version for MAC OSX here:

    http://toolbar.google.com/gmail-helper/notifier_mac.html

    I can’t test it as I don’t have a Mac, but it was written by Greg Miller a Google engineer.

    • Beth

      You’re golden! It works – thanks so much!
      Beth

      • http://techfleece.com thegift73

        Excellent! Thank you for testing it out and replying.

        Enjoy.

  • Maansi

    Thank you so much! This did the job so quickly; i didn’t even have to do all the steps! (:

  • Roy

    did not work it says that there is no e-mail program installed

    • http://techfleece.com thegift73

      Hi Roy,

      This is a copy of the reply I sent to another users earlier. It may help you as I’m thinking that this is an HTTPS issue? Let me know if it helps.
      ————————————————————–

      Hi Steve,

      HTTPS will be enabled on your account by default (they started to roll this out from Jan 13th 2010) so in order for your notifier to work correctly you will have to add a reg edit. You can get this from the link below [1] In the second link [2] is where the link was originally posted on the Google groups board. That is also the way I still do it on my work machine.
      Let me know if that helps. You will want the [notifier_https.reg] file that is included in the zip folder. Just double click on it and allow it to make the changes to your registry. Reboot and you should be OK. This should only take about 10 secs to do plus a reboot.

      [1] http://www.google.com/url?sa=D&q=http://www.google.com/mail/help/downloads/notifier_https.zip&usg=AFQjCNET3QtePR5syAEy72urcJJSg98NPQ

      [2] http://groups.google.com/group/Gmail-Help-Logging-In-en/browse_thread/thread/c1270fcfffecd144?pli=1

      • Roy

        did what you said but it still says There is no e-mail program associated to perform the requested action.Please install an e-mail program or, if one is already installed, create an association in the Default Programs control panel.

    • http://techfleece.com thegift73

      Hi Roy,

      Sorry for the late reply. Are these mailto: links that you are clicking on and not email links embedded into Word documents, or if you are trying to right click on a picture in your ‘My Pictures’ folder. If it’s the latter then you will need to also use a program called Affixa which is another program I use.

      http://www.affixa.com/

      Have you also checked to see if mailto: links are set to be used as default by the Gmail notifier. I know that it can sometimes un-check itself for some reason or another.

      • Roy

        These are just links like at the bottom of pages that says contact us or e-mail us,

  • bev

    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.

    • http://techfleece.com thegift73

      Hi bev,

      Unfortunately you won’t be able to make your Comcast default email program for mailto: links. Annoying, but it’s down to the fact that Comcast’s email is web-based and not a program that you install. Google created the Gmail Notifier to solve this, so I guess that Comcast will have to do the same, but I can’t see them doing this for their users.

      http://forums.comcast.com/t5/E-Mail-and-Xfinity-Connect-Help/making-comcast-default-email-client/td-p/1200709

      • bev

        oh!
        well i don’t know what went wrong but when clicking on to email the prompt came up that there was no email program

  • Roy

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

    • http://techfleece.com thegift73

      Are you using the Windows 7 one or the Windows XP one? Just want to know what OS you are using.

      • Roy

        Windows 7

  • bev

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

    • http://techfleece.com thegift73

      Hi bev,

      Just had a look around and I believe that you can do that with Windows Live.

      http://www.emailquestions.com/hotmail/4129-make-windows-live-hotmail-your-default-email-program.html

      I don’t use that email service myself so am unable to test, but I have seen at least 3 articles stating that it’s quite easy to do. It’s a Windows product so the ability should be built in.

      Any problems with that let me know and I’ll find a decent guide for you.

      • bev

        Thx, will give it a go!

  • relle

    thankyou thankyou thankyou!!

    • http://techfleece.com/ Richard Gailey

      Hi relle,

      You’re welcome

  • André

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

  • Jack Smith

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

  • Bob

    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.

    • Bob

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

  • Francis

    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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