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Why Can’t I Set Yahoo! as My Default Mail Program?


Hi, Leo. I’ve followed your instructions in the article, “How do I change the “mailto:” or default mail program?” The newer versions of Yahoo Instant Messenger don’t have a Yahoo! browser services option. I’ve also downloaded that Yahoo toolbar, but the mail plug-in is not available in newer versions. I’m using Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit.

It’s possible that you can no longer do what you’re doing with the latest round of changes to Yahoo Mail. I honestly haven’t looked at it  closely enough to say yes or no, but what you describe sounds exactly like what I would expect if that functionality were removed.

That means that we have to do things a little differently. The whole default mail program is all about a default mail program.

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Why does it matter if it’s a program?

A program is something like Outlook from Microsoft Office, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail, Eudora, or any number of other programs that install on your PC to manage mail. The default mail program concept was never really designed to work with web-based email such as Yahoo’s Mail, Gmail, Hotmail,, and the like.

Now there have been hacks and workarounds: the Yahoo IM and Toolbar fell squarely into that category. These were programs that you installed on your PC that could be made to look like an email program to the operating system, so that they could then hand-off the email that was being requested to be sent to the website.

If those aren’t there anymore, we don’t really have a way to hand that email off to the website or the web interface to send mail.

Yahoo! MailA couple of different options

You can start using a desktop email program like Outlook, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail,  or any other that I mentioned before. That’s a big change; you no longer use your web browser to go to the website for your mail. It means firing up an email program on your PC and having it access your mail that way.

Another option is not to use those programs for everything. In other words, don’t use them to read your mail or manage your mail in any way. Just at least have a desktop email program installed and configured so that it can actually send email through your Yahoo account.

Any of these desktop email programs that I’ve mentioned will certainly be able to do that. It’s simply a matter of installing it, configuring it for your Yahoo account, and then never reading email using that program. That program would then install itself as the default email program so that when you hit Send, it would open and send that piece of email.

Another alternative is using a different email system other than Yahoo that still includes the ability to have some of those hacks. That’s a major change; that’s changing your email address to go use one of these other email services. To be honest, you’re still kind of at risk because the default email program concept was never really designed for web-based email systems. It’s always shaky when you’re using email that is web-based.

Using Google works

The only one that I know of that has been actually streamlined happens to be what I use. If you use Gmail and you use Chrome (Google Chrome), you can actually set up Google Chrome to be your default email program. And when it gets invoked that way, it knows that you’re using Gmail and will open up your Gmail account.

But as you can see, you have to have a number of things set up properly so that all of the pieces will work together.

Ultimately, I believe that the simplest solution is to continue using your web-based email the way that you have been, but install a desktop email program, probably Windows Live Mail, and configure it to send email through your Yahoo account. That way, whenever you click on one of those Send-to links, Windows has a default email program to call on and that default email program is configured to use your email account.

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8 comments on “Why Can’t I Set Yahoo! as My Default Mail Program?”

  1. I was able to get web-based Yahoo to be my default email in Chrome by installing Yahoo Toolbar on Internet Explorer. And it doesn’t even need to be installed on Chrome! (I know that seems somehow counter-intuitive, but it seems that Chrome uses Internet Explorer settings for some things.)

  2. Yahoo is my home page and I have Yahoo toolbar installed. I use Firefox, but am still using XP. Yahoo is my default email program.
    (I don’t want anything to do with Chrome. ;-))

  3. It’s been so long, I don’t remember how it happened anymore, but clicking on a mailto: link on a webpage on my wife’s laptop will bring up Firefox and go to Yahoo’s compose an email page. No widgets; no toolbars (I detest those things). It just works with no helpers.

    Or at least it did. My wife tried the new Yahoo interface but couldn’t stand it. Was always clicking the wrong buttons. So I set her up in Thunderbird with an IMAP connection. Now she’s happy.

  4. It would be a real service to us who use for their email if Ask Leo would make a file of our problems and complaints about
    I started using for my email address in 1998 and started paying them for it in about 2001, I think. I have been amazed that their changes that have been made over these years have almost always been poorly, un-professionally done and caused more grief to me than ANY other software I’ve used. In my opinion, this latest change is no better.
    I have always been amazed that Yahoo has no easy way for us to send them complaints or questions.

    None the less, I continue to be their customer because it’s hard work to tell all the people and companies what the new address is if I were to change it.

    • Paul, you can actually use the search feature for that. Just search for Yahoo and you’ll get a list of all articles that have to do with Yahoo.

  5. Leo, Thanks for Explaining thatA program is something like Outlook from Microsoft Office, and that the default mail program concept was never really designed to work with web-based email such as Yahoo’s Mail, Gmail, Hotmail,, and the like.
    What always through me off is that Picasa would mail my pictures by gamail, but not by my default Yahoo mail, although it tried.

  6. right from the beginning – you noted that you were not sure how to address the question – don’t answer the question then and fill it with a bunch of maybe and mightbe – that is pointless

  7. im using a brothers machine model number mfc-j475dw im trying to send scan documents from my computer windows 7 but it keeps saying error cc4-12100000003 e mail default application i tried resiting my default and it says contact vendor


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