MailTo Links and Webmail

One of the most common links on websites is the mailto link. This differs from a website link in that it is an email address, that when you click on it it opens an email for you and adds the email address in the TO field for you. For example I have an email address listed and linked with a mailto link to show you what I am talking about, example@beakernet.net.

However, if you use webmail this can be a little tricky as when you click on a link, the browser looks to your computer for a local email program, and doesn’t recognize your webmail service. So for example, if I use Gmail as my main email and click a mailto link, it is going to try opening Outlook on my computer, which is not configured and I do not use it. The sure fire way to get around this is to copy the email address, as opposed to clicking on the link. There are a few ways to do this, the easiest being to right click on the link, shortcut, or email address, based on what browser you are using. Just make sure to take out the mailto: if it is displayed in the email address when you paste it.

If you are using a browser such as Chrome or Firefox, there are easier ways to make this change so that the browser recognizes that you use webmail instead of a local email program. We’ll start by talking about Firefox, in Firefox making this change is really easy. Just go into Options, then Applications. Then scroll through the list until you find mailto, here you can change the default program to be Gmail, Yahoo, or another service. In Chrome there are no default settings to change this, however there are several extensions you can add to Chrome to accomplish this, such as Send from Gmail if you use Gmail, or Mailto: which lets you pick from several popular webmail services. If you are using Internet Explorer though, I have not found a lot in the way of options for this, but there may be some out there that I am not aware of.

So as you look at a website and find Outlook or some other program opens when you click on email addresses or mailto links, the reason is that your browser is looking for a local email program and not a web based email program. But that is easily fixable with a little know how and maybe a couple of add-ons to your browser.