How to Specify a Web Based Email Service as the Default in macOS

This guide will show you how to setup and use a Google Chrome Extension so you can click on a mailto: link and load any web based email as the default “Email App” on your Mac. It can load Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, AOL and many others. You can even configure your own private/work webmail to work.

When you click on a mailto: link, instead of Mail opening, your specified web based email service will launch in Chrome. Here’s how –

  1. The first thing you’ll need to do is let your Mac know that Chrome will be handling your mail. So launch the Mail app and then select Mail from the Menu Bar and Preferences… from the drop-down list. On the General tab click the ‘up and down’ arrows (see screenshot below) next to the Default email reader: option.
  2. macOS Mail app General Preferences page

  3. Click Select… from the menu, choose Google Chrome from your list of Applications, and then click the Select button. Now macOS knows that you want to use Google Chrome as your email app.
  4. macOS Mail app General Preferences page with an arrow pointing to the default email reader item

  5. With macOS configured, now it’s time to set your default web mail service in Chrome itself. Visit the Mailto: Chrome Extension page and install it by clicking the Add to Chrome button. When prompted, click the Add extension button.
  6. adding an extension to Chrome

  7. You’ll see a new ‘envelope’ icon in the Extensions section of your toolbar.
  8. the mailto extension in the Google Chrome toolbar

  9. The mailto: extension settings window will also open up. If your webmail provider is already listed, select it. If it’s not, skip down to step #7 below.
  10. default list of preconfigured web email providers for the mailto extension

  11. You’re done! Should you ever want to change your default webmail service, re-open the mailto: extension settings and click the Change button. You can also turn on another cool feature – jump down to step #9 below.
  12. an arrow pointing to a change button

  13. To configure your own web based email provider, select add another service from the mailto: options. Give your webmail a name (doesn’t really matter – something descriptive is ideal) and then enter the web address (https://) of your webmail provider. Click the add button.
  14. adding a custom default web email app

  15. Now your custom webmail will be selected in the list of Mailto: settings.
  16. a custom default web email provider in the mailto extension

  17. One other interesting and helpful feature of the mailto: extension is that it can add an item to the “right-click” menu in Chrome so that when you select it, an email is automatically opened in your webmail and the URL of the page is pasted into the message. To enable this feature, place a check in the box next to Add an item to the right mouse button menu of pages to send the address of that page
  18. custom right-click menu entry for Chrome

  19. Then when you’re on a web page and you’d like to email it to someone, just right-click a blank space on the page and select Mail this page’s URL
  20. selecting the mailto option from the Chrome right-click contextual menu

  21. Your web mail will open and compose a message with the subject already set and the URL in the body of the message.
  22. a gmail window

  23. If at any point in time you want to change one of the mailto: settings, select its icon from the Extensions section of your toolbar and then choose Options
  24. the mailto options menu in the Chrome toolbar


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2 thoughts on “How to Specify a Web Based Email Service as the Default in macOS”

  1. I’ve been searching all over for information on setting Yahoo Mail as my default email in Chrome. Thanks for the info. This is exactly what I was looking for.

  2. Pingback: Fran

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