To Change the Default E-mail Program in Windows

Last reviewed on September 4, 2013

A common issue with Microsoft Internet Explorer is controlling the e-mail program used when you click on a mail address on a web page. If it’s not set correctly, you may get a “Can’t create object” error message.

In Windows 7 and Windows 8, you can set the default mail client in the Control Panel’s Default Programs applet. Select Outlook from the list of applications on the left and click the button to Set this program as default.


When you use the 64-bit versions of Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, some applications will report that there is no default email client when they try to send email. The problem is not that there is no default email client, but that the application can’t access the 64-bit version. You’ll need to use the 32-bit version of Outlook for the Send to menus to work.

Changing the default program

The easiest way to set the program is to use the Internet applet in Control Panel or choose View | Internet Options in MSIE. On the Programs tab, select the program you want to use from the Mail list.

If you don’t see a change, even after restarting MSIE or restarting Windows, then you can make this change manually. In Windows Explorer, choose View | Options. On the File Types tab, you’ll need to edit the Open event for “URL:MailTo Protocol.” Sample entries are as follows, for different Microsoft e-mail programs:

Email ApplicationCommand
Internet Mail and Newsrundll32.exe C:\Windows\System\Mailnews.dll,Mail_RunDLL
Outlook Express“C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\Msimn.exe” /mailurl:%1
Windows Messaging or
Microsoft Exchange
rundll32.exe url.dll,MailToProtocolHandler “%1″
Microsoft Outlook“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Outlook.exe” -c IPM.Note /m “%1″

Adjust the path to Mailnews.dll or Outlook.exe as needed to match your own system.


Outlook 8.02 and later versions support additional parameters in mailto commands placed in web pages and e-mail messages, to add the subject and more recipients. Some examples:;

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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