How to Change the Default Mail App Client in Mac OS X
The default email client in Mac OS X is the simply named “Mail” app, and it’s a pretty good mail application, but what if you’d rather use something else, like ThunderBird, Sparrow, pine, or a browser and web mail client like Gmail? That’s when you’ll want to change the default mail app to something else, and it’s super easy to do on any Mac.
Note that by changing the default mail app you will change what app launches when you try to send emails from anywhere in Mac OS, whether it’s from another Mac app or a link on the web.
Changing the Default Mail Client to Another App in Mac OS X
Many third party email clients on the Mac will ask you if you want to set them as the default mail app, but regardless you can always set it yourself using the following actions:
- Open the “Mail” application in Mac OS X – yes open the Mail app even if you’re wanting to use another mail client
- Pull down the “Mail” menu and choose “Preferences”
- Go to the “General” tab
- Look for “Default email reader” and click on the menu to pull down other mail app options – if the mail app you want to use is not shown in this list choose “Select” to browse the /Applications/ folder and select one manually
Everyones available mail clients will likely be different, depending on what apps are installed on their Mac. In this screenshot example, the possible email reader apps to select are: Google Chrome (for Gmail), Mail.app (the default in Mac OS X), iTerm (for pine, the command line mail client), and Sparrow Lite (a third party mail app).
Choosing the “Select” option will bring up a Finder Open window viewer to locate applications stored elsewhere in Mac OS X, whether it’s the Applications folder or somewhere else. If you’re going to download a third party email client like ThunderBird, remember to throw it into the /Applications/ folder before selecting it through the Mail’s default selection procedure.
Admittedly, it’s a little weird to use Mail to change the email client away from that app in Mac OS X, but it’s actually similar to setting the default web browser on the Mac too, which is done through Safari even if you don’t want to use that as the browser. It’s just the way Apple does it, for now anyway. In case you think this may be confusing, you can complete the entire process in under 20 seconds, as demonstrated in this quick walkthrough video:
Changing the default Mac Mail app is done this way in all versions of MacOS and Mac OS X, it does not matter what system software version you run.
Mail app is a great email client but if it’s not for you, there are plenty of options out there. Happy emailing! Thanks to Mark for the question and tip idea!