Brendan Nee

Make mailto: links open in gmail in Google Chrome browser (Windows XP & Vista)

September 4th, 2008

I’ve been rocking Google’s new web browser Chrome for the last few days and really like it. Browsing craigslist and clicking on email mailto: links I realized there isn’t an obvious way to force these links to open a gmail window in Chrome. Most Windows systems will have the default mailto handler set as Outlook Express.

One option is to install the gmail notifier program. I opted instead for a quick change to the Windows filetype settings.

Note that following these instructions will cause all mailto links to open in Google Chrome, even if you are browsing in Firefox, Safari or (gasp) Internet Explorer so make sure you want to use google Chrome as your primary browser before continuing. In Firefox, you can go to Tools->Options->Applications and configure “mailto” to set Firefox to use gmail for mailto links and not the system default (thanks to Eric for the tip).

WIndows XP

In any windows explorer window (except desktop):

  • Go to Tools > Folder Options > File Types
  • Near the top of the list of filetypes, click on “URL:Mailto Protocol”
  • Click on “Advanced”
  • With “open” highlighted, click on “Edit”
  • Change the application to:

This should all be on one line with a space between the quotation mark after the path info and the https. My path was “C:\Documents and Settings\Brendan\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” To find yours, just right click on a google Chrome shortcut (like the one in your start menu), go to “properties” and copy the “Target” field.

Windows Vista

Thanks to Ed H. in the comments below for these instructions

  • Open your registry editor (Type “regedit” at your start menu)
  • Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\mailto\shell\open\command
  • Edit the (Default) command from whatever it is (right click and select modify) to:

In Vista, your path will be something like “C:\Users\Brendan\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe ” with “Brendan” being your username.


How-To Geek has great instructions on how to accomplish this in ubuntu.

Open with Google Apps

Another tip from Ed H. in the comments:

If you have “Google Apps for your Domain” (i.e. you’re having Google host your domain’s email,) you can customize it for your domain by changing the URL above so that instead of “…” it reads “…” (obviously, use the rest of the URL mentioned above after the question mark; and use your domain instead of “”.)

  • peter

    you can simply use sohial’s gmail notifier for Google Apps

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  • Jon

    I still like to use firefox 3 because its perfectly customized with extensions, but chrome blows it away speed-wise, especially with gmail. I’d like to have firefox mailto links open up a new chrome window.. but i can’t find the “URL:mailto protocol” file type. Any suggestions?? Hope I can get this great tip working for me

  • “URL:mailto protocol” is near the top of the list where extension is (None). On my system, it is 14th from the top.

  • qwertyphd

    Thanks for the simple instructions. However, after I made the changes you suggested and clicked on a mailto: link, Chrome took me to the page: http://xn--app%3Dhttps-p89d// I don’t understand where all the extra characters came from. Any idea how to fix this?


  • Steve

    Awesome! Worked like a charm. I’m trying to keep my system free of unnecessary apps and was missing this feature. Thanks again!

  • sunyi

    I’ve found another programme to open Google Chrome’s mailto: links in Gmail: you can try it here:

  • ds

    you should mention that there is NO blank in front of the “app”..

  • rB

    I cant get this to work. Currently I have the following in the Application used to perform this action blank:
    “C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” -app=

    I’m getting errors in chrome, does this need to be placed in some other blank?

  • rB

    Ahh I got it to work, thanks for sharing! But is there a way to make it open a new tab rather than a new window?

  • @qwertyphd I had the same error, try changing the hyphen before “app” to a regular dash (as in between the “0” and “=”) and make sure there is only one space after the chrome.exe location

  • qwertyphd

    Thanks Mike! It’s working now 🙂

  • ondra

    works great! thanks, don’t you now how to make windows context menu Send to works simillary?

  • Ed H.

    If you’re willing to do some digging in the registry, you can make this work in Vista, as well. Open up Registry Editor, and navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\mailto\shell\open\command and edit the (Default) command from whatever it is to the string mentioned in this article.

    I haven’t fully tested it yet, but I *BELIEVE* that this changes it for EVERY USER on the computer. Don’t do this on a multi-account computer unless you’re willing to force this on everyone. (My computer only has one account, so I can’t verify easily.) It is also possible that this only changes the default setting, and any user that has manually changed their default mail handler will still use their other email program; or at worst, have to re-set it to their preferred program again.

    A second tip is that if you have “Google Apps for your Domain” (i.e. you’re having Google host your domain’s email,) you can customize it for your domain by changing the URL above so that instead of “…” it reads “…” (obviously, use the rest of the URL mentioned above after the question mark; and use your domain instead of “”.)

  • Instead of this:
    It should be this:

  • Thanks for the tip, “Game tips Zone”. It looks like you don’t need the “\app =” at all, you can just pass the URL after the path to chrome.exe with a space separating them. Perhaps this is due to a change in one of the recent google chrome releases.

  • Christoph

    Perfect, thanks!

  • Tialoc

    I think Peter (Post #1) is the author of Sohial’s Gmail notifier. He’s even promoted it on my blog. It has changed and it’s not very good nor is it free anymore. Peter, stop promoting it…

  • lionqueen

    Thank you for this topic. Now it works perfect! This option in the Gmail Notifier doesn’t work.

  • Egon

    Worked like a charm .. thanks!

  • vassie

    It works, but after a restart it changes back. Is there a way to resolve this?

  • Moktarino

    How can you add in the subject field?

  • Ok, I figured out how.
    Check my blog for the answer.

  • Matt

    I found a way to open the mailto links in a chrome app window…

    C:\Path\chrome.exe –app=

  • vog

    In my latest I.E. there is not drop down under
    “tools” that say “open folders…..”.
    So, I could not get your suggestions to work for making gmail my default email rather than the Yahoo mail that it was previously.

  • chaim

    can you help me complete the path.
    this is my cuuret path it dosn’t work for me.
    “C:\Documents and Settings\ADMIN\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” -app=

  • Jürgen

    in my haste to change I did not make a note of what it used to say in the URL:mailto protocol before I changed it to: “C:\Pathto\chrome.exe”

    what did it used to say to get it to go to Outlook in case I wish to return to this.. (I’m annoyed subject line doesn’t prefill as it did in outlook) is there some more code I can add to the gmail one?

  • Thanks for this. I used your instructions to make mailto: links open in Mozilla Thunderbird. I just changed the application path to thunderbird.exe’s location.

    Thanks again!

  • Daniel

    Worked great!

  • Ludvig

    To make the new email open in a nice Chrome application window, add –app= before the URL, like this:

    “C:\Pathto\chrome.exe” –app=

  • Ben

    awesome.. so much better than having to wait an age for Outlook to open up just to close it, copy the email address and compose a gmail


  • Adam

    the original text in the “Application used to perform action” field was:

    “C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\msimn.exe” /mailurl:%1

  • Sam

    Nice one Brendan – this has almost made my life complete…

  • Andre

    If you look at the 9th post he made a nice java script which changes all the mailto links so Chrome can use them properly.

    Works real well in firefox to open links in Chrome/Gmail

  • Ray

    Can anyone tell me what that %1 is for? I’ve tried searching for an answer but Google just ignores the % sign.

  • João Fernando

    Great! Thanks from Brazil!

  • otis

    sweet! thanks!

  • Heyman


    Go to RUN and run the following path:

    C:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes.exe /url “itmss://…………”

    Note: you should replace the address starting with itmss://……….. with your own activation link. You must inclide the “” before the itmss:// and at the end of the link.


  • Dezorian

    Been looking for ages for a simple solution without downloading another app.


  • Works well!
    Any idea how to change the mailto “thing” when wanting to send a file by rightclicking on a file and choosing copying/sending to emailreceiver? In this case it is still outlook which opens….
    Maybe an idea for Google to have a button that states, “change all to gmail and chrome”…

  • bhaal

    Works on SRWare Iron too.

  • I use Chrome on my Vista PC, but my wife doesn’t. I was able to set it up so that mailto calls GMail with Chrome solely from my Vista account by following the instructions at this website:

    It was very easy. The hardest part for me was figuring out how to properly do the MODIFY from the registry — it turns out I needed to right-click on the “ab (default)” and then choose MODIFY in order to modify the right thing. As soon as I did that, voila, mailto links were calling up GMail in Chrome.

  • Gon

    super! thanks!

  • Thanks so much.

  • nicola

    works, thanks.

  • Jim

    And how do I do this in Ubuntu Linux?

  • m

    you rock

  • Dave

    Just install Google Apps. Thats it. When you install it it will ask if you want to use it as your default. As long as you have a gmail account you are good to go. way better than the gmail notifier. If you ever exit the notifier while it is running, then you have to reinstall it if you want it to be the default mailto when you click on an email link on a website. Pain in the but

    Google Apps fixes this for good. No BS. DOWN WITH OUTLOOK and its friggin headaches! AHHHHHH!

  • Dave

    P.S Google Apps works in XP and Vista flawlessly. This is the easiest fix of them all.

  • Thanks for all the comments and discussion. I updated the content of this post with info from the comments to make it more useful for everyone else.

  • Dude awesome tips! I’m in the process of switching from Firefox to Chrome entirely, on Firefox I have it default to GMail and was getting conflicting info on how to do it in Chrome. Lifesaver! Thanks!

  • martin

    Cool! I followed the Ubuntu link, thank you!

  • Helldire

    In my case it works only in simple text mode. Another, Chrome can’t finish to load extended editor and main field is anactive. :\

  • Jürgen

    Hi, love using this fix, the to field and subject line prefill nicely, however I can’t seem to get gmail to load what ever info is supposed to be coded into the body area like outlook does. please advise, thank you!

  • Jürgen

    every time I restart my computer, the gmail as default mail feature is lost.. how do I resolve that or do I need to go thru this process each and every time I turn off my computer.

  • Jon

    Great hack; thanks for sharing!!!

  • Steve

    This is an excellent and well documented tip ! Thanks, it’s just what I needed !

  • Maarten

    Thanks! i made it work with my own domainname coupled to gmail! fantastic tip!

  • NK

    AWESOME! Thanks so much!

  • Todd

    worked great man thanks

  • Greg Coladonato

    Thanks!! Worked like a charm. I came across the need via Craigslist as well 🙂

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  • Worked perfectly in XP. I’m actually using Google Apps for my domain (4bcj) so I changed the link to:

    Replace with the domain you are using for Google Apps and it will work.

  • DaniGarRa

    Thanks for the tip.

    Vista solution also works in Windows 7.

  • Bill

    This works great in Windows 7 too. No stupid applications to install. Just one simple registry update and you’re done.

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  • Ian

    Thanks a ton! This worked perfectly for Vista!

  • scott

    Ok for whatever reason i do not have the mailto directory in my HKEY_Classes_root directory? is there any way to add it and the new string to get this to work for me. Im running windows 7.

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  • els

    Thank you for helping me set up mailto in gmail!

  • Worked great with Google apps after I change the url from to”yourdomain”/compose?extsrc=mailto&url%1

  • Deviticus

    Thanks a million, outlook has always bugged the sh1t out of me, finally im free of this annoying glitch. many thanks

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this.  I actually came here looking for a way to make Chrome STOP doing that annoying behavior.  Logged into Gmail using Chrome to test something, and wow, they sure don’t make it clear what’s going to happen when they ask “use Gmail to open mailto: links?” or whatever the exact words were.  Really bad behavior on Google’s part.

    • MikeSyr

      What could be more clear than to ask if you want gmail to open mailto: links?