Why are email links in web pages not working in Windows 8.1?

Rob H November 30, 2013
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A couple of people have told me that a standard mailto: link on a webpage doesn’t work. It’s a page that’s been fine for several years and one told me the link only stopped working since she got Windows 8.1 The problem happens in both Chrome and MSIE11 (she’s not got Firefox or Safari).
MSIE11 at least gave some response (Chrome just did nothing), this is how she described trying it in MSIE11

“…it asked me if I wanted to give google permission to open the program, I said yes but it still didn’t give me an email box it just took me to the google web page.”

I don’t have Windows 8.1 but the site seems to be OK on Win8.0 (with Firefox).

It’s such a simple, common and standard bit of HTML that I don’t think it can be specific to the web-site. I asked her to try a mailto link on another web site and she got the same problem. I doubt if it’s browser specific, everything is pointing to Win8.1.

I’m trying to establish the scope of the problem, sent her a load of questions and things to try but meanwhile – anyone else using 8.1 and finding this problem?

  1. Hovsep A
    November 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    you have to see which is the default default handler, on chrome address bar type: chrome://settings/handlers or Chrome Settings->Content Settings->Manage Handlers
    make sure that which is the default handler

  2. Rob H
    November 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    @Oron J
    The worrying aspects are that hers is a new PC and I would have expected the "out of the box" installation of Win8.1 to have a default email client and she was alerted to the problem by someone else with Win8.1

    It would be interesting to hear if any other 8.1 users are hitting the issue or if it's just coincidence that these 2 users cropped up at the same time - given that in 30 years of helping people with PC problems, over 15 since Internet/Email, I've only found file association problems very occasionally and never before with a browser to email association.

    • Oron J
      November 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Rob, that's interesting, but bear in mind that anyone buying a new PC at the moment is likely to have Windows 8.1, and it may well be Windows 8.1 does not set a default mail client out the box (given how miserable the included "modern" mail client is, perhaps that's a good thing!). I agree that it would be interesting to hear from other Win 8.1 users, and would also be interested to find out what the eventual resolution is, so do keep us posted!

    • Rob H
      November 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      Oron - Yes' I'll keep this updated if I find out more. The point about Win8.1 possibly not setting a default would mean that non-technical users are going to find mailto links on millions of websites non-functional in which case they'll blame the website owner not Microsoft.

  3. Oron J
    November 30, 2013 at 11:31 am

    It sounds like the default mail behaviour has changed (this sometimes happens when upgradding OSs, not just 8 to 8.1). If she uses a desktop client, she just needs to re-establish it as her default client as explained in the Microsoft article Choosing the applications Windows uses by default.
    If she uses a webmail client, she may need something like Affixa to do this.