How To Set Gmail As Your Mac’s Default Email Client

Do you use Gmail? When you click an email link on a web site does Apple Mail or some other email client open? If so, you should follow these instructions to make Gmail your default email client. I’ve provided instructions for the 3 most widely used web browsers: Safari, Chrome and Firefox. Follow the instructions listed for the browser you use.

[Update February 2019 – If you’ve updated to macOS Mojave then you have Safari 12. The solution I outline below, the mailto extension, does not work with Safari 12. Fred Potter, the developer of a new solution, pointed this out to me. While I haven’t tested his solution, Fred created a Mac application named Open in Webmail. Get Open in Webmail from the Mac App Store where it currently costs 99 cents. This app currently has 8 reviews and an overall rating of 4.9 stars out of 5.]

Safari Instructions
  • Open Safari and click this link.
  • A Safari Extension named mailto.safariextz will be downloaded to your Mac.
  • Go to your Downloads folder and double-click mailto.safariextz to initiate the installation process.
  • You’ll be asked if you want to install this mailto extension.
  • Indicate that you do want it installed.

That’s it. The extension has been installed and enabled. Test it to make sure it works. If you want to disable it in the future you can click on the Safari menu, select Preferences and then click on the Extensions button. Locate the mailto extension in the left-hand list and remove the checkmark next to Enable.

Note, in addition to Gmail you can also use this mailto extension to make any of the following your default email client: AOL, Fastmail, Hotmail / Windows Live Mail / Outlook.com, Yahoo or Zoho mail.

Chrome Instructions
  • Open Chrome and visit this page.
  • Click the button named Free to initiate the installation process.
  • Click the Add button to install it.
  • Select Gmail from the list of email services listed.
  • Click the red dot to close the window.

That’s it. The extension has been installed, configured and enabled. Test it to make sure it works. If you want to disable it in the future you can click on the Chrome menu, select Preferences, then click on Extensions. Locate the mailto extension and remove the checkmark next to Enabled.

Note, in addition to Gmail you can also use this mailto extension to make any of the following your default email client: AOL, Fastmail, Hotmail / Windows Live Mail / Outlook.com, Yahoo or Zoho mail.

Firefox Instructions
  • Open Firefox, click on the Firefox menu and select Preferences.
  • Click on the Applications button.
  • Locate mailto under the Content Type and change the Action to Use Gmail.
  • Click the red dot to close out of Firefox Preferences.

That’s it. Test it to make sure it works. If you want to change this in the future, return to the same preference area and change the mailto Action to one of the other options.

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