How to Use Webmail as a Default Mail Client in Chrome


Everyone has been there: You're browsing a company’s website and decide you'd like to email them. So you click the company’s “Contact Us” link, but what does your computer do? It opens the Microsoft Outlook email program. But you don’t use Microsoft Outlook to send email. You use Gmail or Fastmail or some other Web-based email client. Wouldn’t it be nice if your preferred Web mail client popped up instead of Outlook? Well, if you’re using the Google Chrome Web browser, you can make it happen.

  • Switch to “Apps” view in Google Chrome. With a fresh tab open in Chrome, you’ll see the word “Apps” written below a faint grey line along the bottom of your window. Click the line or the word to switch to “Apps” view.

  • Click the icon labelled “Chrome Web Store.” This launches Google’s page dedicated to extensions and plug-ins for the Chrome browser.

  • Search for the free Mailto extension by typing the word “Mailto” into the Chrome Web Store search box. The search box is located on the top left hand corner of the Chrome Web Store window.

  • Install the Mailto extension. When the Chrome Web Store search results display, click the button labelled “Add to Chrome” beside the Mailto extension developed by "famlam." Chrome will then install the extension and you’ll automatically be taken to Mailto’s options panel.

  • Select the Web mail service you’d like to use. Mailto provides a list of common mail clients, including Gmail, Fastmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail. You can also click the link labelled “Custom URL” to choose a Web mail service not included on this list. If you have several Web mail accounts and don’t always want to use the same one, click the checkbox under the “Multiple Accounts” heading. Checking this box lets you set Mailto so that each time you click an email link, the Mailto extension asks which of your Web mail clients you’d like to use.

  • Close Mailto’s options panel by clicking the large red “X” in the top right hand corner. From now on, whenever you click on an email hot link while using Chrome, your Web mail client will launch.

Tips & Warnings

  • The same process applies for versions of Chrome running on Mac OS X.
  • Similar extensions are available for specific Web mail services. A free extension called “Send from Gmail,” for example, lets you automatically launch Gmail as your default Web browser whenever you click an email hot link. Recent versions of Chrome also include this Gmail functionality as part of its base feature set.
  • This procedure is not recommended if you're using a public computer.
  • If you want to change your default Web mail client in the future, launch Mailto from the Extensions section in Chrome's Options panel.

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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