How to Make Outlook the Default Email Program on a Mac

by | Dec 8, 2019 | Email, Mac

Tired of Mail popping up for every email address you click? Find out here how to make Microsoft Outlook for Mac (or on the web) the default email program on a Mac.

First, It’s Easier to Catch a Lion Awake

…than it is to meet an elephant that sleeps.

For elephants, it turns out, sleep a mere 2 to 2½ hours per day. This is a record low for mammals (the lion we caught before dozes away some 80% of the day) and makes sleeplessness their clear default.

Mail on your Mac seems never to sleep either, catching each request for email, each request you want to send to Outlook for Mac instead?

Let’s wake up the latter to be the Mac email default:

How to Make Outlook the Default Email Program on a Mac

Time needed: 5 minutes.

To set up Microsoft Outlook as the default email client using macOS:

  1. Open Mail.

  2. Select Mail | Preferences… from the menu in Mail.

    Mac keyboard shortcut: Press Command , to open Mail settings.

  3. Go to the General tab.

  4. Click the current default email program under Default email reader.

    Tip: This is also where you make any other email program the Mac default.

  5. Select Microsoft Outlook from the list of choices.


  6. Close the Mail preferences window as well as Mail itself.

How to Make Outlook the Default Email Program on a Mac: FAQ

Microsoft Outlook is not in the list of email programs; what can I do?

If Outlook is missing from the list of choices for the default email program but is installed on macOS and happily running, you can try picking it manually:

  1. Open Mail preferences. (See above.)
  2. Go to the General tab.
  3. Under Default email reader:, choose Select….
  4. Look for and highlight Microsoft Outlook in the Applications folder or a personal applications folder.
    Note: If you installed Outlook in a custom location, do navigate there, of course, and highlight the Microsoft Outlook application.
  5. Click Select.

Can I make Outlook on the Web at my default email program?

Yes, using Google Chrome, you can use turn into an app, which you can configure as your default email program:

  1. Open in Chrome.
  2. Click Install Outlook (Click ) in the address bar.
  3. Now click Install.
    Note: This will install Outlook on the Web as a Chrome Web App on your Mac.
  4. Open Mail preferences. (See above.)
  5. On the General tab under Default email reader:, pick Select….
  6. Navigate to your Chrome Apps folder.
    Tip: By default, the folder is ~/Applications/Chrome Apps.
  7. Highlight Outlook.
  8. Click Select.

(How to make Outlook the default email program on a Mac tested with macOS Catalina 10.15; updated December 2019.)