How to use Gmail or Yahoo web mail for mailto links

Mar 9, 2007 - 11 Comments

Brian W. asks the following great question:
“I’d like to click a link such as “” and have it automatically open up my web browser to Yahoo mail. Is there a way to set my default email client to my Yahoo mail account? I’d prefer not to use Apple’s Mail client.”
Well Brian, you’re not the only one to wonder. Millions of people use webmail clients instead of Mail or Outlook and the answer to your question is: Yes! It’s very easy to do with a simple and free third party preference pane called Webmailer.

How to Set MailTo Links to Open Gmail

This ability really should be built right into Mac OS X, but until it is, Webmailer works just fine. Installation and configuration is as simple as downloading and launching the app, which will install the preference pane into your System Preferences. You then just select which web-based email you want to use, as you can see from the screenshot below. Be sure to change the default email application from Mail to Webmailer. If you’d like to use a different webmail client than the default list, you can do that too with some minor configuration.

Once it’s configured, clicking a mailto link will load the designated webmail client instead of Apple’s Mail. Enjoy!

Developer home
Download now (Mac OS X 10.4+)

Note: We’re linking to the version of Webmailer for newer versions of Mac OS X, but if you have 10.3 there is a version available on the developers site.


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Posted by: David Mendez in How to, Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Utilities


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  1. MCsquared says:

    The Firefox browser has this ability built in. It works fine for me with yahoo mail. (Download Firefox if you don’t yet have it, it’s a good browser.)

    Open mail>preferences>general-tab>select and choose firefox app from the applications folder.

    Open firefox>preferences and search for applications and look for mailto. Choose the webmail of your choice. I was offered Yahoo and Gmail already set up, but Application Details allows you to set up a webmail of your choice, although you will need to find or work out the url string details with %S to show where to insert the mailto: email address. Your webmail provider can tell you what to use.

    For mailto in firefox I only need to open the mailto link once and it works, but for some links that open a browser such as chrome I have found that if the browser is not already open, the first time open the link it opens the browser but doesn’t go to the linked address, so I have to open the link a second time to go get the linked url.

  2. […] versions of Mac OS X can use WebMailer as well, but Google Notifier is the most […]

  3. […] In a related tip, you can also use Gmail when you click on a web mailto link. […]

  4. Claude says:

    Unfortunately, it isn’t working for me. I get a message that says URI too long etc
    I’ll spare you the ten or more lines that constitute the URI

  5. […] This post was Twitted by bramcohen […]

  6. fjpoblam says:

    When I downloaded webmailer, I saw that Yahoo! had a green dot at its left and was not available for “Choose” as most of the others are… I assume this is likely due to the fact that I don’t have the “beefed up” paid-for POP-access Yahoo! email? …though, I should think, a link to a signed-on Yahoo! URL should work, POP or no POP. Eh?

  7. jeff walker says:

    After changing email default on my Mac to Yahoo, I would like to know when an e-mail arrives by a ping or other sound Mac offers. When I changed to Yahoo in preferences, I hear nothing when I receive an e-mail. Help!

  8. Terri says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I have always been so frustrated when I click on a link to email someone and Apple Mail opens. I really do not like that program and the email clients like entourage are so slow just to send an email because you have to open them. Thanks again! Great help!

  9. Don says:

    To access gmail securely, double click on the gmail destination and add an “s” after “http” so that you get “https”.

  10. Checkers says:

    I have always wanted to know how to do this but I wonder if there is a way that doesn’t involve the downloads in general?

  11. archimedes says:

    perfect, Just what I neeed too

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