I’ve never been a fan of the stock Mail app in OS X, so I generally find myself relying on Gmail inside of Chrome for all of my email needs. In fact, I don’t have any email accounts configured inside of the stock Mail app at all. With this in mind, I always get frustrated when I inadvertently click a mailto link inside of a browser window. Doing so forces the Mail app, which is set as the default mail client in OS X, to open without purpose.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could configure Gmail to play the role of the default mail client inside 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 the default mail client.

Note: You will need to be logged in to Gmail in your browser of choice to take advantage of these methods.

How to make Gmail the default mail app in Safari

Sadly, setting up Safari to open mailto links in Gmail isn’t as straightforward 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’ve vetted this extension, checked out its code, and have verified that it’s legit and contains nothing malicious. You can download the extension here. Not only does this extension work for Gmail, but it also works for other popular web-based email services.

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

Trust Safari extension

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

Safari extension options

Before you can start using the mail extension, however, you’ll need to quit and restart Safari. Once you do, clicking email links should open a new composition window inside of Gmail directly in the browser.

How to make Gmail the default mail app in Chrome

Making Gmail the default mail app in Google Chrome is actually pretty straightforward. When you open Gmail in Chrome, you should see a handler button located on the right side of the address bar. Click the button to address Gmail’s request to make email links open directly inside of Gmail while using Chrome.


To fulfill the request, click the Allow radio button and click Done. Once you do, you can begin opening mailto links directly inside Chrome.

If you ever need to manage the handlers you have configured in Chrome, just go to chrome://settings/handlers/ to view setup options.

How to make Gmail the default mail app in Firefox

Like Chrome, setting up mailto links to open Gmail while using Firefox is super-easy. Open Firefox’s preferences, and click the Applications tab on the sidebar. Find mailto under Content Type, and use the drop down box to select Gmail. After that, just close the preferences page, and you can start opening email links directly inside of Gmail while using Firefox.

Firefox use Gmail preferences

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