How-To: Make email links default to Gmail in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox on OS X

Gmail Default mail app

I’ve never been a big proponent of the stock Mail application in OS X, so I generally find myself relying on Gmail inside a browser for all of my email needs. In fact, I don’t have any accounts configured inside of the Mail app at all. With this in mind, I get frustrated when I accidentally click a mailto link while I’m using Chrome. Doing so forces the Mail app to open, which wastes time.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could configure Gmail to be the default mail client inside of Chrome or another browser? In this video tutorial, I’ll show you how easy it is to configure Chrome, Safari, and even Firefox to use Gmail

Note: You will need to be logged in to Gmail in your browser to take advantage of these methods.

How to make Gmail the default mail app in Safari

Sadly, setting up Safari to open mailto links in Gmail isn’t very straightforward. With Safari, you’ll need to harness the power of a third-party mailto extension. The good news is that I’ve vetted this extension, checked out its code, and have verified that it contains nothing malicious. You can download the extension here.

Once the mailto extension is downloaded, double click it to add it to Safari. Click Trust when asked in order to successfully install the extension.

After installation, click the Options check box to open the Options page for the mailto extension. From there, select the Gmail radio button to set Gmail as the default protocol handler for mailto links clicked while using the Safari browser.

Safari extension options

Before you can start using the mail extension, you’ll need to quit and restart Safari. After doing so, clicking email links will open a new compose window inside of Gmail directly in Safari.

How to make Gmail the default mail app in Chrome

Making Gmail the default mail app in Google Chrome is very straightforward. When you open Gmail in Chrome, you will see a protocol handler button located on the right side of the address bar. Click that button to address Gmail’s request to make email links open inside of Gmail while using Chrome.


To fulfill the request, click the Allow radio button and click Done. Once you do, you can begin opening mailto links directly inside of Google Chrome.

If you ever need to manage the handlers you have configured inside of Chrome, just go to chrome://settings/handlers/ to view and adjust setup options.

How to make Gmail the default mail app in Firefox

Like Chrome, setting up mail to links to open Gmail in Firefox is simple. Open Firefox’s preferences, and click the Applications tab. Find mail to under Content Type, and use the drop down box to select Gmail. Close the preferences page, and you can begin opening email links directly inside of Gmail while using Firefox.

Firefox use Gmail preferences

If you’re a big fan of Gmail on the web, then you owe it to yourself to establish Gmail as your default mail app in your favorite browser. It’s not often that I click on mailto links, but I find it very frustrating when I see the stock Mail app opening after accidentally clicking one. This will remedy that issue, and save you a little bit of time in the process.

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