I use Gmail as my e-mail client, but when I click on a "mailto:" link, the Mail.app is opened.

Is there a way to avoid the Mail.app opening in this case? Can I open Gmail instead?

  • you mean you want open your gmail in browser?
    – Am1rr3zA
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 12:49
  • 1
    @Am1rr3zA, if it's possible, yes. But the most annoying thing is the Mail.app popping up... Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 13:36
  • Thanks to @Guillermo, @jonik below, and the asker. Now I've set-up Google Notifier how do I remove Mail.app from my life? That is, the messages that were downloaded while I was configuring it? I have no need for a local email client.
    – boehj
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 1:22
  • @boehj, you should consider opening a new question about that...
    – Jonik
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 9:30
  • 2
    OK, I put up another question that was promptly answered. The key to doing this cleanly is to disconnect from the internet before initiating the process.
    – boehj
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 0:34

7 Answers 7


You do NOT need to install a third party app.

Both Google Chrome and Firefox support this functionality. (ok, technically these are third party apps, but lets assume you are not using safari.)


  1. Open gmail in chrome.
  2. In the address bar next to the "bookmark star" you should see a grey diamond. Click on the diamond
  3. Select "use gmail". enter image description here
  4. If you do not see the gray diamond, follow the instructions below.

If you made a mistake and selected "No" and you really wanted to select "Use Gmail"

  1. With Chrome open, copy and paste this into your address bar at the top: chrome://settings/handlers
  2. Under the Ignored protocol handlers section, Click on X to the right to delete.
  3. Close and open Gmail.
  4. Answer the question correctly this time. :)

Source: http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chrome/hnRteY7bHfE

Alternative way, if you need to do this programmatically.


See @Am1rr3zA answer on this question. Click here to jump to his answer.


See @fpotter's answer on this question. Click here to jump to his answer.

  • I installed extension "mailto:Gmail" before, and, however, this answer is just way much simple and better than it. Thanks very much!
    – p3nchan
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 14:41

Update (1/2014)

Turns out Google Notifier for Mac is no longer supported.

If you're using Chrome, this is now very simple: open settings, search for "mailto", and set Gmail as the handler for mailto.

enter image description here

For Firefox, see this answer.

(The remainder of this answer is now obsolete.)

While options like Webmailer also do the job, I'll mention yet another way for the sake of completeness:

  1. Install Google Notifier for Mac. It's an official Gmail utility made by Google.
  2. Open Mail.app, go to Preferences -> General, and set "Default email reader" to Google Notifier.app. (Yep, you need to configure this in Mail even when Mail is what you don't want to use...)

alt text

Besides directing clicks on mailto: links to Gmail, the Google Notifier comes with some additional features: It adds an icon (like this: alt text) in the menu bar and notifies you (if configured to do so) about new mail in your Gmail box. Through the icon you can also access your inbox, unread messages, and "Compose mail" screen quickly.

Works great for me; I can generally vouch for this useful little app.

  • 1
    I agree that while Webmailer gets the job done, this might be the best solution for many users. Plus, it's made by Google. Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 16:41
  • 2
    Google Notifier for Mac is no longer supported. Use the instructions for doing it directly in Chrome instead.
    – studgeek
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 3:27
  • Actually that page has no instructions regarding mailto. But nevermind, turns out it's now very easy to configure in Chrome (answer updated).
    – Jonik
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 9:28
  • 1
    Alas, while this works for mailto: links in the browsers, it does not work for mail from Mac OS applications such as Aperture. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 14:46

If you use Firefox 3.5 or later:

  • Go to Preferences ⌘, and and choose the Application pane.
  • Find "mailto" in the content type list, and choose what you want. If you want Gmail to open, choose it in the popup menu.

    Firefox prefs

Or you can use More Internet, a System Preferences pane that lets you choose which applications are set as helpers for Internet protocols. More Internet

  • More Internet link is broken. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 14:47
  • This fixed an issue where mailto links were causing Firefox to open an infinite amount of new tabs. My FF settings had Firefox as the mail client, as did OS X. Changing the mailto setting in Firefox to Gmail fixed that.
    – zymhan
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 18:55

With Webmailer, you can set up any webmail client as the default email client in OS X.

  • 1
    I like this more than the Google Notifier, as it is one less thing cluttering up my icon bar. Note: as of May 2012, development on Webmailer is probably stopping due to the developer getting a job at Apple (source: his blog) Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 3:39
  • 1
    This crashes for me in the system preferences panel whenever I try to change the mailto: handler. Webmailer 1.3, OSX 10.8.3
    – SimplGy
    Commented Apr 20, 2013 at 18:24
  • 3
    Getting crashes if you click anything in the Webmailer prefpane in Mavericks. Since the project is dead now, this doesn't seem like the best answer anymore (unless someone else picks up the source).
    – Phoebe
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 16:45
  • now defunct, you can probably delete this answer now Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 19:56

You could use Mailplane. Mailplane is a site-specific browser for GMail that offers better OS-level integration. Mailplane can act as the default email client.


  • +1 for MailPlane, it’s really good. Especially if you’re used to Mail.app Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 6:09
  • When you set Mailplane as the default email client, then the "Share via email" option in Preview (and iWork, and other apps) disappears: mailplaneapp.com/howto/entry/iwork_share_with_email
    – Matt
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 10:48

You can do this with Firefox in two steps...

  1. Go to Firefox preferences, Applications, search for mailto: and change the application action to "Use Gmail".
  2. Follow Apple's instructions here and choose Firefox as the email app.
  • Doesn't work. Aperture still uses Mail. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 14:42

You could use Sparrow which is a very clean and spare Gmail client. I've been using it for a while and love it.

Go to Mail.app / Preferences / General / and make Sparrow your default email reader.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .