How To Set Gmail As The Default Email In Chrome

gmail-as-default-email

Ever wanted to send an email directly from Gmail when you click a “contact” or “mailto” link in Google Chrome only to have your desktop email client pop open? Firefox has a quick fix for this already baked in its options, but unfortunately for us Chrome users, Google has yet to officially implement this feature. Fortunately, there are few ways to fix this and set Gmail as the default email in Chrome.

Change the “File Type” Settings

This one’s fairly straightforward. Open a Windows Explorer window, then:

  1. Go to Tools > Folder Options > File Types
  2. Near the top of the list of filetypes, click on “URL:MailTo Protocol”
  3. gmail as default email

  4. Click on “Advanced”
  5. With “open” highlighted, click on “Edit”
  6. In the field under “Application used to perform action, enter this:
    "C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --app=https://mail.google.com/mail?extsrc=mailto&url=%1
  7. (where USERNAME is your Windows user name)

gmail as default email

A few extra steps, but nothing crazy. But, here’s the problem — this only works in XP. Windows Vista and Windows 7 are entirely different beasts.

Editing The Registry

This method works in XP, Vista, and Windows 7, but I don’t highly recommend it. If you really must play around in your registry, please back up your disk (which you should be doing regularly, anyway).

To set Gmail as the default email client by editing the registry, you’ll have to:

  1. Open your registry editor (Type “regedit” in your Start menu)
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\mailto\shell\open\command
  3. Edit the (Default) command (right click and select Modify) to:

For XP
"C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --app=https://mail.google.com/mail?extsrc=mailto&url=%1

For Vista/Windows 7
"C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\
Application\chrome.exe"\app=https://mail.google.com/mail?
extsrc=mailto&url=%1

Again, unless you are comfortable editing your registry, don’t take this route. There are much easier ways.

Unfortunately, both of these methods are system-wide. This is fine if you’re strictly a Chrome user, but if you regularly switch from Chrome to Firefox or Internet Explorer, every time you click an email link, Chrome will launch to open the link. These next two methods only affect the Chrome browser and are much simpler to install, and work in all three versions of Windows with no extra work on your part.

The Send from Gmail Extension

“Send from Gmail” is a free extension by Google that sets Gmail as the default email in Chrome and allows you to open a “Compose” window in Gmail when you click an email link. As a bonus, if you’re surfing the web and come across a site or page you’d like to share, you can click the extension and it will compose a new email, add the title as the subject and a link in the body.

gmail as default email

Installing the “Send from Gmail” Extension

The easiest way to find it (besides clicking the link above, of course) is to head over to the Chrome Web Store and search for “Send from Gmail” in the search bar up at the top left. It should appear in about the middle of the page under “Extensions”.

Like so:

gmail as default email

Options

If you happen to be a chronic page sharer and are tired of always having to add “This is neat!”, or “Hey, check this out!”, you can have “Send from Gmail” prefix the page title with a custom message.

If you’re a Google Apps user, you can add your custom domain so Gmail doesn’t default to your consumer account. To access your options, just right-click on the extension.

gmail as default email

Javascript Bookmarklet

While not really a way to set Gmail as the default email, this is probably the easiest way to send a message from a “mailto” link. All you have to do is drag this link to your bookmark bar:

Bookmarklet

This is perfect if you want a no-frills, easy-to-install method to send messages straight from Gmail. It’s also great if you want to conserve resources, as each extension you install creates a new separate process. Lastly, if you’re worried about extension security, this is the way to go (except for “Send from Gmail”, which is an official Google extension so you shouldn’t need to worry about malware). The only caveat is that you can’t click the contact link to send your message, you’ve got to click the bookmarklet.

There you have it. Three easy workarounds (and one not so easy) to send a message straight from your Chrome browser. Do you have any workarounds that you use?

About author
(Almost)Barefooter - You can also find me at Myfivefingers.com. Android lover, avid Chrome user, FOSS supporter. Anything with buttons and flashing lights fascinates me. Find me on theTwitter.
14 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Hey, thanks Corey. Finally I can use my Google Apps account with “mailto” links. I’ve always just right-clicked and copied the email address and then headed to my email account. This’ll be a whole lot quicker!

  2. Glad I could help! I would’ve thought Google would have fixed this about 6 versions ago…

    At least now there are options, though.

  3. Nice post! I had a similar issue myself with wanting to design the perfect email open script so blogged about it here – http://www.geakeit.co.uk/2011/05/22/email-open-script-perfection-designing-and-implementing-the-perfect-email-open-script/. Hopefully someone can find this useful!

    • Thanks for offering email open script blog post, but that link just takes me to your home page. I see that your comment was made in May; is the link no longer live?

  4. Corey, I have been searching for a method to do this for Google Apps Domains….would you have any details about how to accomplish this? Thanks!

    • In the options of the “Send from Gmail” extension, you can enter your google apps domain name (see image above). I believe that’s all it takes. Hope it works for you.

  5. Well, I couldn’t make gmail work but I have managed to replace outlook with thunderbird, so I am happy enough ;-)

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