Mail app

How-To: Make Gmail the Default Mail App in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox on Mac

I’ve never been a fan of the Stock Mail app in OS X, so I usually find myself relying on Gmail in Chrome for all my email needs. Actually, I don’t have any email account set up in Stock Mail app. With that in mind, I always get frustrated when I accidentally click on a mailto link inside a browser window. This forces the Mail app, which is set as the default mail client in OS X, to open aimlessly.

Wouldn’t it be nice to configure Gmail to act as the default email client in your browser of choice? In this video tutorial, I’ll show you how easy it is to configure Chrome, Safari, and even Firefox to use Gmail as your default email client.

To note: You will need to be signed in to Gmail in your browser of choice to take advantage of these methods.

How to Make Gmail the Default Mail App in Safari

Unfortunately, configuring Safari to open mailto links in Gmail isn’t as easy as it is for browsers like Chrome and Firefox.

With Safari, you’ll need to harness the power of a third-party mailto extension. The good news is that I checked this extension, checked its code and verified that it is legit and does not contain anything malicious. You can download the extension here. Not only does this extension work for Gmail, but it also works for other popular webmail services.

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

Trust Safari extension

After installation, check the Options box to open the options page of the mailto extension. From there, click the Gmail radio button to set Gmail as the default handler for clicked mailto links in Safari.

Safari extension options

However, before you can start using the mail extension, you need to quit and restart Safari. Once you’re done, clicking the email links should open a new compose window in Gmail right in the browser.

How to Make Gmail the Default Mail App in Chrome

Making Gmail the default mail app in Google Chrome is actually quite simple. When you open Gmail in Chrome, you should see a manager button located on the right side of the address bar. Click the button to respond to Gmail’s request for email links to open directly in Gmail when using Chrome.


To respond to the request, click on the To permit radio button and click Done. Once you’ve done that, you can start opening mailto links directly in Chrome.

If you need to manage the handlers you’ve configured in Chrome, just navigate to chrome://settings/handlers/ to view the configuration options.

How to Make Gmail the Default Mail App in Firefox

Like Chrome, setting up mailto links to open Gmail while using Firefox is very simple. Open Firefox Preferences and click the Applications tab in the sidebar. Find mailto under Content Type and use the drop-down list to select Gmail. After that, just close the preferences page and you can start opening email links directly in Gmail while using Firefox.

Firefox uses Gmail preferences

If you’re a big fan of using Gmail on the web, you owe it to yourself to set Gmail as your default mail app in your browser of choice. It’s not often that I click on mailto links, but I still find it frustrating to see the Stock Mail app bouncing around in my Dock after I accidentally clicked on one. Not only will this save you a bit of time, but it might save you a gray hair or two in the process.

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