Make Gmail The Default Email Client on Windows

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 6, 2008
Updated • Mar 8, 2014
Email, Gmail

I already covered how one can make Gmail the default Firefox 3 mail client which has the effect that mailto links are opened on the Gmail website from that moment on.

This does not change the default mail behavior in Windows however. If you click on an email here or a mailto link, another program may be opened instead as Windows does not use Firefox's settings to determine the default mail client of the system.

That is not a huge issue for me personally, as I have integrated Gmail into the local email client Thunderbird, so that it is just fine if Thunderbird opens.

Some users prefer to do everything online however and they may have a problem with that, as Windows may open Windows Mail or another local mail program every time a mailto link is clicked on.

GAttach! (via Freeware Genius) comes to the rescue. It's a small software for Windows that integrates Gmail nicely as the default mail client. Some applications that are compatible with the program are Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat and Windows Live programs.

It also handles mailto links in web browsers. The main benefit of using gAttach! is that you can send emails and attach files to those emails from within Window.

Each attempt at sending a file or email will open a small window asking for the Gmail login information.

Gmail will be loaded afterward and the message is available as a (opened) draft with the text and files included. It's interesting to note that the you can configure gAttach! to add the draft to Gmail without loading the Gmail interface.

This is great if you want to add several mails to Gmail and send them at a later time.

Several other options can be set like enabling rich text formatting or opening Gmail in HTML or normal mode.

The usual Gmail limitations apply, like the maximum attachment size limit. It's definitely a nice application for users who love Gmail and use it for everything. Users like me will most likely continue to work with their desktop mail client and the online version of Gmail instead.

Update: Please note that gAttach is no longer available. While you can still download the last released version on third-party download sites or here from our server -- (Download Removed) -- it is not really recommended to do so as the program has not been updated for years and is likely not working properly anymore.

You can use the program Gmail Notifier as an alternative. It ships with an option to make Gmail the mailto: handler on the system.


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  1. ElToucano said on January 27, 2010 at 8:26 am

    There is also the free gmailbydefault utility from It works for all browsers including firefox, IE and chrome.

  2. LARRY L GUREWITZ said on December 17, 2008 at 12:03 am


  3. moin said on July 7, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Thats a really good technique and save a headache too nobody loves outlook express to pop up even when you accidently click on mail link, way to go gmail thanks

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