Make Gmail the default Firefox Mail Client

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 4, 2008
Updated • Jul 16, 2013
Firefox, Gmail

If you like to access your Gmail account on the official website and not in a desktop email client, then you may have noticed that it is not really that easy to get so called mailto: links open up in the web interface when you click on them. Instead of Gmail, Outlook or another desktop email client may open up which is probably not what you want.

The official Gmail blog posted a tip recently on how to make Gmail the default mailto handler in the browser, so that a click on an email address opens Gmail and not another client.

It is relatively easy to do so, but only if you know the process. I'm going to show you how to configure Firefox in a way that Gmail is opened when you click on emails in the browser.

Setting up Gmail as the default mail program in Firefox

The first thing you need to do is visit the official Gmail website and sign in if you have not done so already. Follow the instructions below once you have done so:

  1. Press Ctrl-Shift-K to open Firefox's Web Console. Alternatively, press the Alt-Key, and select Tools > Web Developer > Web Console.
  2. Paste the following line of code into the form here and hit the enter key afterwards.
  3. javascript:window.navigator.registerProtocolHandler("mailto","","Gmail")

You should see a notification at the top of the Gmail page that informs you that Gmail has been added as an application for mailto links. You may need to click on the add link displayed here to add it to the browser.

Once you have done that, it is necessary to select the newly added handler as the default program for Gmail. Proceed with the following steps to do so:

  1. Press the Alt-key again on the keyboard and select Tools > Options from the menu bar.
  2. Switch to Applications here and enter mailto in the search on top of the screen.
  3. This should display only one entry, listing the program that is currently being used to open email links.
  4. Click on the program and switch to Use Gmail in the options.

use gmail firefox mail

Close the settings dialog afterwards and test the newly made setting by clicking on an email in the browser. You should notice that the Gmail compose window is automatically opened when you do so.

You can change the preference back at any time, to a different email client, or, if you prefer that, to always ask which displays a dialog that you can then use to pick one of the available email clients.


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  1. Joe said on April 30, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    A major concern that you didn’t mention: what if two people use the same filename? I assume this will simply overwrite the earlier file, rather than adding an incremental number or using some other method to avoid overwriting.

    To avoid that, you have to “add ingredients” using the big blue plus sign in the “File Name” area when setting up the Dropbox section of the recipe. I had mine use sender address, time received, AND file name (in case someone sends the same filename twice and I want both copies, which could happen if they use some boilerplate name like “NewDocument1”).

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 30, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      Is not Dropbox using copies of files automatically in this case? But good point, need to investigate this.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on April 30, 2014 at 11:55 pm

      I have tested it, only on Google Drive but still. Same name attachments are stored as well. You end up with several same name files in the same folder structure but that is okay I guess.

  2. Blue said on May 1, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    They are poor variations of cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft’s OneDrive.) because they have specific limitations which do not make them idea as a cloud storage even for personal use. They don’t allow executable files (EXE, COM, BAT) to be uploaded or saved on their servers. I have purchase a few programs from online sources and want to save them in a cloud for easy access on the go. “Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft’s OneDrive.”, do not allow executable files so aren’t really a good choice for cloud storage or drop box option.

    So MediaFire or Firedrive to the rescue. Both allow executable files uploaded, saved and shared (Mediafire checks copyrights of the files shared). Plus for programmers, who need to allow a few individuals to download a specific file or folder to beta test a program, Mediafire and Firedrive are great resources. Firedrive allows online chat and messaging between Dropbox and shared file users. But as they are based in UK their download speed is not consistent for all Canada/USA users.

    1. Joe said on May 1, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      I’ve never seen that limitation on Dropbox – I’ve been storing dozens of .exe and .bat files there for years. I thought maybe you were referring only to the web uploader (I never use it – my files are all uploaded from synchronized folders), but I just tested it and it works. Maybe you should give Dropbox another look.

  3. Joe said on May 1, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Another limitation: it apparently can only pull in one attachment. I usually wouldn’t have a use for this, but right now I am accepting job applications via email, so I was excited to try it out. I’ve received two so far, and both used multiple attachments for cover letter, resume, and references. In both cases, only one attachment made it into Dropbox. The recipe “ingredient” in IFTTT is “FirstAttachmentPrivateURL”, and there are no options other than “First…”.

    Of course, if you are asking people to send attachments, you could always specify to include just one file per email.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 1, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      They could also pack multiple files into a single archive.

    2. Garrett Williams said on December 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Because of this, I chose to have IFTTT just save all attachments instead of filtering to a specific sender or label. Multiple attachments worked just fine after that, though of course now I have various other attachments mixed in.
      I know this is an old comment, but it seems this solution should be mentioned.

      My main issue is that it doesn’t have the option of overwriting the old file, which puts a roadblock in my automation, as updated files must have a consistent name. Likely adding yet another online service to the mix to remedy that.

      @Martin: While a too-technical step for many people, asking for a zipped file might be a really nice test of computer literacy if hiring for a very technical job.

  4. Nathan Smith said on March 14, 2015 at 6:25 am

    “You can change the folder path where those files are transferred to however”

    Do you just change one or more?
    File URL
    File name
    Dropbox folder path

    My dropbox folder name for example is John Smith……………however the path to get there is John Work/Clients/Jane Client

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