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How do I get “Send Mail” buttons to work on web pages?

I have fallen into the maze of Outlook.com and Hotmail and Windows Live
Mail. All I want to accomplish is to click on a Send Mail button on a web page
and have any of my email systems open and work. I set Windows Live Mail and all
the various default programs but no matter what I do, it opens and then fails
to send with various error messages. The errors merely say it failed without
any real information. I’d be happy to have any of the three email systems work,
but none do. I have to copy the link and open Outlook.com or Hotmail and go
from there. Is there some secret to getting a default system to open and work
when clicking on a web page to send email?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #63
, I look at the difficulties involved in sending mail from
“Send Email” links on websites when you are using a web-based email
program.

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A secret to “send email” buttons?

Yes, there is.

So what I see most people doing is… they’re using some web-based email
system (let’s say you’re using Gmail) and you click on a “Send Mail” link. What
happens is Windows looks up the default program for handling mail on
your PC. Now, you may have not said anything. It may just have whatever random
default it had before.

Let’s say that default is Windows Live Mail (the Windows Live Mail program
that’s installed on your PC). You’re using Gmail; you never use Windows Live
Mail, but when you use the “Send to:” link, Windows says, “Hey, the default email
program is Windows Live Mail, so we’ll fire that up and then try and send the
message using that.”

The problem is – you’ve never configured Windows Live Mail to actually be
able to send using your Gmail account.

Setting it all up

The trick, of course, is you can!

There’s absolutely nothing preventing you from configuring Windows Live Mail
to use your Gmail account. You need to be a little bit careful so that Windows
Live Mail doesn’t immediately start downloading all of your Gmail, but you can
at least configure it to send.

What’s important is you end up creating an account in an email program that
is for your email service, whatever it may be. I’m using Gmail as my
example, but whatever email service you happen to use.

It doesn’t really matter if the “receive” server is set correctly; what
matters is that the SMTP settings are correct for your email service.

So what that means is (to continue my example):

  • I would configure Windows Live Mail to have an account configured, that is
    connected to my Gmail account.

  • In the Account Settings, I would make sure that the
    SMTP server settings are correct in order to be able to send
    mail through Gmail.

Then when you click on a Send Mail link on a website, your computer picks
up Windows Live Mail. It does whatever the Send Mail instructed. When you hit
Send, it now knows how to send the email through to your
Gmail account.

Web-based emails run online

Unfortunately, with web-based systems like Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail,
sometimes there are some hacks to make them actually work as the default mail
account. Most often, they are not.

The problem is… the default mail program that Windows expects – it’s a
default mail program. In other words, it’s expecting something like
Outlook or Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird – any of those to be the default
program installed on your PC.

A web-based email system like Gmail, like Hotmail, like Yahoo, these are not
programs installed on your PC – which means there is no direct way to
say, “Whenever I click a ‘Send To,’ I want you to use Hotmail,” or “I want you
to use Gmail.”

Like I said, there are some hacks that sometimes work and that’s great and
fine. But the fundamental problem, and the easiest solution, is to go ahead and
have an email program installed on your machine (as you apparently do with
Windows Live Mail). Simply make sure that that email program is
configured to properly send email through your email account via whatever ISP
or email service provider you happen to be using.

Next from Answercast #63- Is it safe to stay logged in to Lastpass?

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2 comments on “How do I get “Send Mail” buttons to work on web pages?”

  1. Options vary in other browsers……
    In Firefox, open ‘options’, then click on ‘applications’.
    On the list, find ‘mailto’. To the right, click on the action (probably says ‘windows mail’ default)
    In the menu that drops down, choose whichever you want. I use Gmail, because that’s the service I use. You can click on ‘use other’ and configure it to use Hotmail, which you mentioned, but I can’t help you further with that.
    This only sets a browser option. Remember that your Windows setting is separate, so if you wanted to send a file without the browser, you’d need to set your default ‘mailto’ choice through your ‘start menu options’.

    Reply

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