Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beginner Tip: Use Gmail as the default email handler in Firefox

If you do not use a desktop email handling program like Microsoft's Outlook or Mail on a Mac, and use the web-based Gmail instead, you know how annoying it is. You click an email link on a website, and your default 'mailto:' link handler tells you to set it up. You then have to manually start Gmail up and type in the address.

If you did not know already, Firefox natively supports opening mailto links using Gmail. So if you use Firefox, you can eliminate this annoyance from your life once and for all. You just have to set Firefox to do that. Here's how.
In this tutorial, I will be using Firefox 4, running on Ubuntu. Though it might look different in Windows, it is exactly the same process.

In Firefox 4, click the Firefox button in the top-left of the browser (it's orange in Windows) and click Preferences, as shown below:

If the Firefox button is not available and you see a menu bar instead, you'll find Preferences in the Edit menu. Also, consider removing the menu bar. You'll gain some screen space and you'll get the Firefox button instead.

The Preferences window will pop up. Navigate to the Applications section on the top. In the search bar, type 'mailto' without the quotes, of course. Change the option next to the mailto option to 'Use Gmail'.

If you are running an older version of Firefox, say 3.6, the only difference is the location of the Preferences. Click Edit in the menu bar and choose Preferences (or Options). And I say, upgrade to Firefox 4. It is so much better.

Now when you click a mailto link, Gmail will open, and there will be a new email, with the To field (maybe the Subject and others, depending on the link) filled in.