How to Make Gmail your Default Email Program in Windows 7 (Updated… again!) – LINKS FIXED!

Here is something I get asked alot – How do I make GMail my default email program in Microsoft Windows 7?  In MS Windows 7, you have the option to change your Default Programs to which ever email program you have installed – but GMail isn’t installed on your computer and doesn’t show up in Default Programs.

You could installed GMail Notifier and set it to open gmail for you when an email link is clicked – but there is another way if you are willing to edit the registry.  I know this can sound a bit technical, but its not difficult to do.  If it does scary you off – then go with the GMail notifier option – otherwise follow these steps:

  1. Right Click on the link below for your browser below
  2. Select Save As
  3. Save to your computer
    1. if you are using chrome – open the txt file you just saved and replace {username} with the username you log in with
  4. Find where you saved the file and change the file extension from .txt to .reg
  5. import the registry file to your computer – (Update: I didn’t mean to sound “geeky” here… to “import” just double click the .reg file, or right click and select import – Windows will do all the “heavy lifting” from there)

If step 4 has you hung up – you need to change your folder options to not hide extensions for known file types.

chrome-gmail <– YOU MUST EDIT {USERNAME} BEFORE YOU IMPORT THIS TO YOUR REGISTRY

IE-gmail

IE64-gmail <– this is for the 64bit version of IE however I don’t use it and don’t recommend using it.

 

Update for Firefox users: According to a comment below, if you’re using Firefox, all you have to do is:
Tools>Options>Applications, then change the mailto action to Use Gmail.

Please leave a comment if that worked for you. Otherwise, here are the registry hacks for Firefox:

firefox-gmail

firefox-gmail-32bit

 
If this post has helped you – help me back by watching my 5 min standup set at StandUp Live in Phoenix AZ. Its free, its funny, and I like the attention! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Eu9DokpBjo

90 thoughts on “How to Make Gmail your Default Email Program in Windows 7 (Updated… again!) – LINKS FIXED!

  1. tomtherealtor

    Did you ever update the file to IE 9? My old hard drive crahsed and I was using windows 7 but cannot remember what IE I had running. The new hard drive is using IE 9 so I wonder if that is the problem? I followed the steps as I did last time which worked but this new hard drive is not taking the reg edit. When I click on a mail link it says in the left hand corner mailto: and then the email address.

    Reply
  2. Dojhaa

    You Dont Sound GEEKY. You sound ignorant and somewhat arrrrrogant to the fact that most USERS are just that. USERS and not Tech’s. Explain your description and dont simply ASS-U-Me that all the left out details are in living color to those that ask for your help. If you are going to teach???? Do the job right Or LOG OFF. Dojhaa>>>>>> Microcomputer Support Systems Analyst

    Reply
  3. SendaiGuy

    Followed instructions for Explorer- win7 and installed after allowing program to run.
    No change!
    Still loading Outlook as default mailclient.
    HELP PLEASE!

    Reply
  4. tammie

    I managed to do all the steps, including changing from txt to reg, then clicked “run” after double clicking the .reg file. Does it matter where I saved the file (saved in MyDocs)? Now when I click to mailto, it doesn’t do anything (used to say I had to set my default email). I also can’t figure out where to change my default mail program (to choose gmail) in the Control Panel section of Windows7. Please help.
    Also, what exactly happens when I click “run”? What is the registry? If this doesn’t work, can I restore to yesterday to wipe out this change?

    Reply
    1. dsackr Post author

      @tammie, which registry file did you run? It doesn’t matter where the file is saved. If mailto links don’t do anything now, you mostly likely imported a registry for a browser you don’t have or failed to update the registry file for the user path if you are using Google Chrome. Let me know, I’d be glad to help if I can…

      Reply
  5. Ed Haney

    It worked great easy as could be in Firefox, just like you described the outlook was much harder to set up thanks
    hope this helps some of your other reasons.
    just find mailto click the down arrow and it gives you gmail, live mail and yahoo as well as outlook

    Reply
  6. Mark

    Had fingers crossed this would work. Clicked from a mailto weblink but still got error message that default email client not installed. It did start a second Chrome session open on igoogle – which is not my homepage set.

    Reply
  7. val

    Lucas is right and it’s super easy.

    If you’re using Firefox, all you have to do is:
    Tools>Options>Applications, then change the mailto action to Use Gmail.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Tosca

    Hello, I have double clicked firefox-gmail.reg but getting error saying file cannot be imported as it is not a registry file. Windows 7 64bit. Thanks

    Reply
    1. dsackr Post author

      @Tosca, Not sure what’s going on there – most likely something has changed on the reg file itself. If the header information in the file is modified at all, Windows won’t recognize it. You could open the reg file – and use the information in it to manually create the key from the file in your registry… but that is a advanced geek only task… 😀

      Reply
  9. David

    Hello,
    I followed your instructions for changing the default email to Gmail. I don’t have Chrome. Running Windows 7 with whatever the latest updates are. Double clicking on the renamed file didn’t work so I right clicked and selected Merge. Import wasn’t one of the options. The computer asked for permission to change something, warned me that I was about to change the registry and then said it successfully changed the registry. I was pumped at this point:) Then I right clicked on the photo I was trying to email (after I closed and restarted internet explorer) and it still started Windows Live. Do you know what I can do to get Gmail set as my default email program?
    Cheers,
    Dave

    Reply
    1. dsackr Post author

      @David, unfortunately, right click send to options in many windows programs will still bring up a mail program like Windows Live. This hack is meant to force Windows to open gmail when you click a mailto link. If you are sending a picture or document – log into gmail and attach the file from there…

      Reply
  10. Robert

    When I do this:
    “if you are using chrome – open the txt file you just saved and replace {username} with the username you log in with”
    do I replace the {} also, or just the text inside them?

    Reply
  11. Aaron Newton

    On a related note – I have this working brilliantly (hooray), but it’s missing all of the usual menus and other chrome that usually appears around the composer window. I’m looking for a way to fix this – known fixes welcome!

    Reply
  12. Aaron Newton

    “how do i change the .txt to .reg?”

    I’m guessing you have file extensions hidden in your Windows Explorer (see http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows-vista/Show-or-hide-file-name-extensions). You could fix this and then rename the file in Windows Explorer with “.reg” instead of “.txt”, but another way would just be to open it in Notepad (click on the Windows icon in your tray and type “Notepad” into the search) and save it as a new copy with “.reg” as the file extension.

    Reply
  13. Aaron Newton

    Cheers for pointing out how to do this.

    If you want to find your Chrome (or other program) exe location on the system do the following.

    1) Open Task Manager and find the Chrome process
    2) Right click on this and “Go to Process”
    3) Right click and select “Properties”

    The execution path will be under “Location”. You should edit your path to reflect this in the file (just open it in Notepad). Replace all of the “\” characters in the path with “\\” (except for the last one) so “c:\program files\stuff\” would be “c:\\program files\\stuff\”. Save you file with the .reg extension. You can then double-click on the .reg file and it will install to the registry.

    If you want to backup you registry first, you should open regedit (just type “regedit” into the program search which appears when you click the Windows icon on the tray). In regedit, navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\mailto\shell\open\” (hint – expanding the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and beginning to type “S-O-F…” would skip to “SOFTWARE” and the same for subsequent sub-folders). You can right-click on the “open” folder and export the existing registry entry to a .reg file – this will make reverting to the old entry easy.

    Reply
  14. Keenerhead

    Make sure if you are using Win 7 32bit to alter program files (x86) to just Program Files. Delete the (x86) out of that one line. If not it will say something like program isn’t properly installed. ALWAYS REMEMBER TO BACKUP YOUR REGISTRY BEFORE MODIFYING. You’ve been warned 🙂

    Reply
  15. Tina

    I have Windows 7 Starter and I went through the process as stated above for changing the registry on Windows 7. I still don’t have gmail as an option for my default programs. I am obviously not very knowledgable in regards to all this tech information, but my system did go through the process of changing the registry. I just have no idea what to do now to make it work. Please advice.

    Reply
    1. dsackr Post author

      @tomtherealtor, I’ve not updated the registry file for IE9 and I’m guessing that is the issue. I will try to get an update this week.

      Reply
  16. tomtherealtor

    so this worked like a charm on my my Dell desk top at the office but I have been stuck here all day trying to get this on my HP laptop using windows 7 home addition. Have even removed microsoft office 2003 from the lap top. Any ideas or ways to get this to work? Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  17. outofcoffee

    You hero! This works great on Windows 7 Ultimate.

    Steps:
    1. Download the file above with ‘.reg’ as the suffix
    2. Set the username in the file
    3. Go to Start > Run
    4. Run regedit
    5. Go to File > Import
    6. Try it!

    Reply
  18. rosi

    Hi to you,

    I’ve just tried to call you, but the call keeps dropping out. I followed the steps above to set gmail as my default, changed the .txt to .reg, but still windows live mail comes up when I press a web page link. I have a Windows 7 system. Do I need to change the protocol or file under the “programs” “internet options”? I see the windows live mail mail file and the protocol for Mailto, but I don’t see the chrome-mail file I changed to .reg. I did see the (username) box on the file address and put in my username inside the brackets.

    What have I missed or other. Please help as I have just spent about two hours doing this!

    Many thanks and hoping for some help.
    Rosi

    Reply
  19. Diana

    So this is an either or thing. I can’t have more than one (Default) REG_SZ in my registry at once. What if I use IE and chrome interchangeable? I’d like both browsers to make g-mail my default email program..?

    And thanks, by the way, I love messing with my registry; it’s like sticking it to the “Man”. 😉

    Reply
  20. sam

    hello.

    about step#5,where is the registry file being imported to? i was able to save the file and change the ext, but not sure where to import the file.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. dsackr Post author

      @sam, once you change the file name to .reg – you should be able to double click it and Windows will import it to the registry for you.

      Reply
    1. dsackr Post author

      @Brian, LOL – sometimes I forget just how geeky I am – double click the .reg file or right click and select import – Windows will actually handle most of the heavy lifting from there…

      Reply
  21. z

    Make sure you check
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\mailto\shell\open\command
    also and set it accordingly.

    Some programs, like gmail notifier will modify this, but when uninstalled will leave not fix remove its entry, so you’ll have problems.

    make sure the two locations are the same.

    Reply
  22. John Beaddie

    I imported the firefox 32bit registry file and it opens gmail. However, it also tries to open numerous spamlike sites in several tabs at the same time. I have to manually shut down each new tab.

    Reply
  23. Donnie

    I am using Windows 7 and wanted gmail as my default. I followed the directions of right clicking, save as a .reg file to my desktop, then tried to just right click to open, and windows did the rest. Worked like a charm is two minutes.

    Thanks

    Reply
  24. Chuck

    Does not work at all for internet explorer. Have spent days trying to get this to work for someone who is NOT knowledgeable enough to us an email program. Wish the so called experts would actually post a correct way to do this instead of bsing people.

    Reply
  25. Chuck

    Does not work for IE and windows 7 – something seriously wrong with it – it opens windows live mail which is a serious piece of junk.

    Reply
  26. Travis

    your instructions are vague and a waste of my time. youre gonna seriously have people fuking up their computers with your registry directions. fail

    Reply
  27. Lucas

    If you’re using Firefox, all you have to do is:
    Tools>Options>Applications, then change the mailto action to Use Gmail.

    That’s all I had to do, anyway.

    Reply
  28. George

    Hello

    I went ahead and attempted this using Windows 7 64-bit and tried the firefox gmail & gmail 32bit.. but yet when I aM IN OpenOffice or other and attempt to send as email document (other) it still comes up and says that a default email program is not associated or installed. Is there something I am missing?

    Regards
    George

    Reply
  29. kay

    I used the7 gmail notifier for web mailto:links. How can I use gmail within windows 7? for example, when clicking the “send to” when I’m inside an adobe or word doc. When I click that, it still comes up Thunderbird and not gmail. I have unclicked the “use Thunderbird as default email”.

    Reply
  30. chrisgod

    Well done that MAN!! I take my hat off to ANYONE who is more clever than I am at something, which is why I very rarely wear a HAT! 🙂

    Thank You

    Reply
  31. Mick

    I tried your registry import for gmail, firfox & windows 7 64bit.

    It didn’t work:

    When I try to mailto I get a message saying I need to set up my default email client. The path reffered to in the registry setting is correct for my firefox.exe.

    I also note that your firefox reg-setting refers to “program files (x86)” directory which I thought was for 32 bit progs.

    and your firefox 32bit reg setting refers to the W7 directory for 64 bit programs.

    Reply
  32. Andrew

    Can’t get it to work using chrome. When I click an email in chrome, it opens a new, blank tab. I downloaded, changed to my username, saved, changed to .reg, and then imported. Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    Reply
  33. Eric

    Thank you! I was looking for the correct registry edit since I use Chrome and am receiving gmail notifications without the use of gmail notifier. So I just needed a simple way to make gmail my default e-mail client. I appreciate that you took the time to share your knowledge.

    Reply
  34. Louie

    There’s a problem in your registry key for “chrome-gmail”. The installation path for Chrome is in C:\Users\\AppData\… but you have used your own username “dsackr” which will not work for everyone else. I’m assuming this is a problem only with Chrome because no other browser is idiotic enough to install into an user folder.

    Reply
  35. dsackr Post author

    @Nick – that’s a little bit more difficult. You may be able to simply use the built in Windows Default Programs to change it if you are using a desktop application like outlook.

    Otherwise, you can manually remove the entry created when you followed the instructions from this post. If you are not familiar with Windows Registry – then you shouldn’t attempt that because you can seriously mess up your computer. If you are comfortable with regedit – then surf down in the registry to the entry imported from this post (you can find that by opening the txt file linked in the post). Once you find the entry that was imported – delete it.

    Reply
  36. dsackr Post author

    @James – if you are running there are two versions of Firefox for Windows 7 – one is 32bit, the other is 64bit. If you don’t know which version you are running – try 32bit first. In fact – you could import all four (chrome, 32bit and 64bit firefox, and ie) to your registry without hurting your computer.

    Reply
  37. james

    you are obviously very good at what you do.. but that does not include being able to transfer your knowledge to none geeks!!
    sorry left me totally confused// what the hell is gmail 32 bit! for instance and what is the folder thing all about<?

    Reply

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