Make Gmail your Default Desktop Email Client (Windows)

Tina Sieber 31-10-2008

Make Gmail your Default Desktop Email Client (Windows) gattach03In recent years Google Mail has become the most popular online eMail program. Due to its ease of use, combined with incredibly smart and useful features and a few cool gimmicks for the freaks among us, it easily outrivals its major competitors Hotmail and Yahoo.


One issue that any web-based eMail program faces is accessibility. Although this may not sound right, it will become clear in a second. Imagine you didn’t use a desktop Mail program and clicked onto an eMail hotlink in a document or on a website. What would happen? Of course your computer would not not launch your web-based eMail program, instead it would launch something like Outlook and since you’d not be using it, it would not work in the first place. If this isn’t fiction to you, but rather sounds like a scenario that keeps annoying you, stay tuned because if you’re using Gmail, there is a solution.

gAttach! is a Windows desktop application that solves the above described issue. It installs to your computer as a mail application, but in reality it links to your Gmail account. It does require .Net Framework 2.0 and a few more steps to work, but after some initial effort it will work flawlessly.

gmail default email client

You must make gAttach! your default mail application to make Gmail your default email client, else it’s not going to work. The options window opens automatically once the installation is completed. You can either let gAttach! log you in automatically by providing your username and password or decide to give your details via the browser once you would like to compose an eMail. The latter approach can come in handy in case you’re using more than one Gmail account or if you don’t trust the application. You can also share your Google Apps account domain, in case you’re using one.

Make Gmail your Default Desktop Email Client (Windows) gattach02


If gAttach! doesn’t work properly from the start, maybe some of the preferences aren’t right for what you expect it to do. With the above shown settings, gAttach will only copy the eMail address to your Gmail drafts folder, but it will not launch Gmail (first option).

The first time gAttach launches your browser to open Gmail, it will install an extension, at least that’s what it did for Firefox. For the attachment to work you first have to restart the browser, but from there the whole thing works like a charm and you will never want to return. All mailto links opened in Gmail.

open mailto in gmail

Now you can comfortably send files to eMail or Mail Recipient or click on eMail hotlinks in almost any Windows application.


gmail default email vista

Definitely a very handy application for Gmail fans who want to keep all of their mail, including drafts and sent mail in one central location without giving up the one obvious comfort of a desktop mail application: local accessibility. Do you agree?

Related topics: Desktop Email Client, Email Tips, Gmail.

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  1. Matt
    February 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    It also opens a new tab with your gmail when you click an email address (just to be clear)

  2. Matt
    February 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    If you're using chrome, click the wrench and go to extensions. Click get more extensions and search for Gmail.

    The first one should be
    Send from Gmail (by Google) by extensions.for.gapps

    It puts a buttton up top in chrome which opens a compose window. I'm not sure if I like it yet or not, but there is also an extension without a button.



  3. Patrick
    January 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Awesome. Thank You.

  4. Stevo
    December 30, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    There is also the gmailbydefault application which works well with Google Apps domain accounts (and corporate accounts) - its free from

  5. kestrel
    November 10, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Corporate domain does not seem to work with this gattach application...kept saying there was error in communication

  6. Emily
    July 31, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Wow, thanks much for this. I've been using this Vista Sidebar Gadget that i LOVE except that it wouldn't open up Gmail in my browser. This has fixed the problem and now it's PERFECT. Thanks!

  7. Sean
    April 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    The gattach link doesn't work. Where can we get it. I'd like to try it. Thanks for the info.

  8. RanMan
    March 20, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks for the updated info. Going to try and convince the wife to give it a try.

  9. Itlan
    March 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    The website has changed. A Basic version is available at

    • Tina
      March 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks for the heads up!

  10. Maxwell
    November 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Very cool tool. We want to move to Google Apps (and Gmail), but some our of business accounting software requires a desktop email client to send out reports and documents. I realize that we could install an email client on each desktop, but it kind of misses the whole point.

  11. Shreela
    November 5, 2008 at 4:35 am

    Why not just add gmail's pop3/smtp to Thunderbird (or whichever email client)? I only use one gmail acct, but I imagine additional gmail accounts could be added as well.

    • Tina
      November 5, 2008 at 8:29 am

      @ Shreela
      Yes, managing several eMail accounts or even several Gmail accounts is possible with Thunderbird. I've been doing just that for several years.

      However, using a desktop mail client or not is a matter or preference. Many people don't want to download their eMail to a local computer, even though they use the same computer most of the time. There are many possible reasons why, we don't need to discuss that here. Anyways, this tool covers a niche for these people.

  12. Scott
    November 1, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    It works pretty well; may be a keeper...

    I'd rather have it send the email to my Inbox; I know I'll forget to check my Drafts folder.

    Also, I'd love it if I could send a simple text email to my account w/out having to open a text editor, save the file, and then r-click it & send-to Mail Recipient.

  13. venkat
    November 1, 2008 at 7:00 am

    @srihari that makes quick access to Gmail not replace outlook.makes Gmail default Web mail program

  14. venkat
    November 1, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Great work tina awesome post very useful to Gmail users.It is annoying whenever we click email link on a document or website it opens Outlook we got out through this .Thanks Tina.

  15. Shrihari
    November 1, 2008 at 1:59 am

    Actually there is an option in Google Toolbar that lets you open "mailto:" links in Gmail itself rather than your desktop email client...

  16. Tina
    November 1, 2008 at 6:41 am

    Thanks for all the feedback everyone!

    @ Shrihari
    Thank you for sharing, I didn't know that! (I'm not using Google Toolbar).

    Kudos to Mark for telling me about the following one:
    In Firefox there actually is the option to have all mailto links open in Gmail.
    Go to >Tools >Options >Applications tab and type >mailto into the >Search field. Do NOT hit enter, the matching selection will appear automatically. You can select an action for mailto links in the >Action drop-down menu. You can set it to open Gmail, but it also works for Yahoo! Mail and others.

    • Ran Man
      November 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm

      I appreciate you explaining how you can access the feature via Firefox because I am a recent user of Firefox. However, what I am unclear of is how does Firefox determine which gmail account you want to use ? I have several and it always defaults to the same account name. It would be nice to know whether multiple accounts can be accessed for Mailto or if it can be changed on the fly.

      Thanks BTW I am still going to try gAttach to see if any additional benefits are available.

      Ran Man

    • Vertx
      February 14, 2009 at 1:19 am

      much thanks for the firefox info!

  17. Regina
    October 31, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Yours is one of my favorite sites. It is one of the most informative and useful. Thank you. Regina

  18. Susie
    October 31, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    This was an incredibly useful post, and I'm going to share with everyone I know who uses GMail. Thanks so much! Also... I'd like to say, is my absolute favorite site... and I read it first thing every morning!

    • Aibek
      November 1, 2008 at 7:29 pm

      Thanks, glad you can make use of our site :-)

      @ Tina - thanks for this really useful tip. The abilit to send file to my Gmail compose window via right click menu is simply AWESOME!

  19. jollyrogue
    October 31, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    brilliant.. :) its just what i needed.