Want the right email program to open when you click an email address in Chrome? Wish web-based email (such as Gmail or Outlook.com) could be the default? Find out below how to change the default email program in Google Chrome—even to a web-based email service.

First, 9 on a Scale of 1 to 8

To measure cloudiness, the sky is divided in eight parts. With every part that is filled with clouds, cloudiness increases by 1: a clear sky is 0, partly cloudy is, say, 4 and a completely covered sky would be 8. So far, so good.

Then, of course, there is cloudiness 9.

Yes, that means the sky is more than completely covered—because you cannot even see the clouds through the fog. So, cloudiness 9 means the sky is obstructed from view by fog.

Now, the default email program is typically a choice between Outlook, Mail, Spark and similar desktop programs. Except, of course, when you need not even see the email program from Google Chrome because the browser itself—a web-based email service such as iCloud Mail or Gmail in it—covers the email program needs.

Still foggy? Let’s clear the skies for email link handling in Google Chrome:

How to Change the Default Email Program in Google Chrome

To make Google Chrome use a different email program when you click an email address:

  1. Quit Google Chrome.
  2. Change the default email program in your operating system:
  3. Launch Google Chrome.

How to Use a Web-Based Email Service as Default with Google Chrome

To set a web-based email service in Google Chrome (such as Gmail, Outlook on the Web or iCloud Mail) as the default email program:

  1. Click the hamburger menu icon () in Google Chrome.
  2. Select Settings from the menu that has appeared.
  3. Click Advanced at the bottom of the settings page.
  4. Select Content Settings ….
  5. Now choose Handlers.
  6. Make sure Allow sites to ask to become default handlers for protocols (recommended) is enabled.
    • Note: If this setting is disabled, it will read Do not allow any site to handle protocols.
  7. Click the hamburger menu icon () next to the desired service under email.
    • Tip: If the service you want to use does not yet appear under the list, see below for adding it.
  8. Select Set as default from the menu that has appeared.

Add a Web-Based Email Service to Google Chrome for Handing Email Links

If the email service you want to use by default is not yet listed:

  1. Open the Handlers settings in Google Chrome
  2. If the service you want to use is listed under Blocked, click the × next to it.
  3. Now open the email service you wish to use in Google Chrome.
  4. Click the service handler icon (
    Google Chrome Service Handler
    ) in the address bar.
  5. Make sure Allow is selected under Allow ___ to open all email links?.
  6. Click Done.

This will automatically make Google Chrome the default email program and the selected email service open with a new message when you click an email address.

How to Change the Default Email Program in Google Chrome: FAQ

I do not see the service handler icon for my favorite email service.
Can I manually add a web-based email service to Google Chrome for use as the default for email links?


To add a web-based email service to handle clicks on email addresses with a new message (and the recipient already filled in) when the service handler icon is not available:

  1. Open the email service you wish to use by default in Google Chrome.
  2. Click the Google Chrome hamburger menu icon ().
  3. Select More Tools | Developer Tools from the menu that has appeared.
    • Keyboard shortcut: You can also press Control Alt I (Windows and Linux) or Command Option I (Mac).
  4. Go to the Console tab.
  5. In the Console window’s command line (following the > prompt), type the command made up of the following parts:
    • navigator.registerProtocolHandler(
    • “mailto”,
    • “[URI]”,
      • Important: Replace [URI] with the link to compose a new message in the email service. In the link, %s will be replaced with the email address on which you click to start an email so the addressee is already entered.
      • Note: Make sure the domain for the URI corresponds to the domain currently open in Google Chrome; e.g., if you are on https://www.icloud.com, the URI needs to start with https://www.icloud.com.
      • Example: The address for iCloud Mail to start a new email is “https://www.icloud.com/message/current/en-us/#compose?to=” followed by the email address, so the whole URI for use in the command is “https://www.icloud.com/message/current/en-us/#compose?to=%s”.
    • “[Name]”)
      • Tip: Replace [Name] with the email service’s name.
      • Example: Use “iCloud Mail” for iCloud Mail.
    • Full Example: The full command for setting up Gmail as an email service in Google Chrome is: navigator.registerProtocolHandler("mailto", "https://www.icloud.com/message/current/en-us/#compose?to=%s", "iCloud Mail")
      Add iCloud Mail to Google Chrome for handling email links
  6. Hit Enter.
  7. Under __ wants to Open email links instead of ___ (which appears below the address bar in Google Chrome), select Allow.
    Allow iCloud Mail to handle email links in Google Chrome

(How to change the default email program in Google Chrome tested with Google Chrome 69; updated October 2018)