The Complete Guide to Google Chrome Handlers

If you are using Google Chrome as your default browser, then you will notice that–clicking on any mailto: links will open either in website or it does nothing. The behavior what it needs to be done when clicking on those special links is termed as protocols, and the programs they use are called handlers.

To edit protocol handlers in your Google chrome browser, just paste chrome://settings/handlers in your address bar and hit enter. By default, you’ll notice empty page with no active handler. This means that when you click on Mailto: links it does nothing.

Set Default Protocol Handler:

To Set default protocol handler in your chrome browser, visit any web app or website which support protocol handlers (For ex: Gmail for mailto:, Google Calendar for webcal: ) and you’ll see Protocol handler icon <<>> onright side of your address bar, click that icon to set default handler.

For example purpose, I will show how to set website to handle all mailto: links on your chrome browser.

set mailto handler

If you wish to set as your default mailto: protocol handler, then first visit Have a look at your address bar, you notice some arrow <<>> mark, click on that icon. You’ll see

Allow Gmail ( to open all email links?

  • Use Gmail
  • No
  • Ignore

Manage handler settings

Here you choose “Use Gmail” option to open all your email links or mailto: links in Gmail website and click Done button.

From now onwards all your mailto links on your Google chrome browser will open Gmail website to send emails.

Video Guide:

Didn’t get Protocol Handler icon <<>> on your browser?

If you didn’t see any <<>> protocol handler icon on Gmail or any website, then there are the few reasons why it won’t show.

1. You have already set this Protocol handlers entry on your chrome browser. To check this, copy and paste chrome://settings/handlers this in your chrome address bar and hit enter.

chrome handlers

2. You might be disabled Chrome to suggest or ask default handlers for protocols. To enable this, Visit chrome://settings/content scroll down the page till you see Handlers. Here you will see two options

  • Allow sites to ask to become default handlers for protocols (recommended)
  • Do not allow any site to handle protocols

Select the first option to get a suggestion.

allow chrome to suggest handle protocols

3. The site or web app won’t support handlers.

To Change Protocols Handlers in Chrome Browser:

If you wish to change one protocol handler to another, then visit chrome://settings/handlers and choose the protocol handlers from the drop-down menu and click Done button.

Set Software or Application to Handle Protocols:

I have explained how to set website to handle mailto: links. You can follow the same method to set any other website as default protocol handlers.

But what if, if you need to set software has a default protocols handler? you cannot follow the above guide to achieve it.

For example, If I need to set my Mozilla Thunderbird application has my default mailto: link protocol handler, then above method won’t work. That is, every mailto: link found on Google Chrome browser should open in my Thunderbird software.

Google Chrome: Set to Open all Mailto: links in Thunderbird Application

Video Guide:

You can follow this method to set other software has default protocol handler as well.

1. Open your Chrome browser, inaddress bar enter chrome://settings/handlers and open it.

2. Here in Type look for mailto and set Site to (none) option and click Done.

set mailto handler to none

3. Now open Set Default Programs in Windows O.S. You can find this at

Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Default Programs\Set Default Programs

set thunderbird default google chrome

4. Here you choose Thunderbird from the application list. And in the right side choose, Choose defaults for this program option.

5. In this window have a look on MAILTO option which comes under Protocols, and Check MAILTO check box and click Save and OK button.

thunderbird chrome

That’s it. Now all mailto links on your chrome browser will open on Thunderbird application.

17 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Google Chrome Handlers”

  1. Thanks for a tip that worked. I searched a lot for a guide like this. At last I remembered to restrict the Google search to only include hits from the last month.
    Finally I found a working guide and not just outdated crap 🙂

    1. Is your email account maybe managed through someone other than gmail? I ran into the same thing – no <> icon, no handlers available. It’s a gmail account, but it’s managed through my work and has a different domain. I’m guessing they disabled the option to manage handlers on some higher level.

  2. OMG. Thank you so much. The not working has been bugging me for ages and I just couldn’t figure it out. Your first suggestion worked for me …but it’s great that you have included lots of alternative fixes.

  3. I’m looking to change the protocol handler for click-to-call. The user on the computer choose “do nothing” and “remember my preference” when clicking a phone number with SIP. Now there is no prompt to allow a difference choice. I also have no handlers listed in the settings for Chrome. Any idea how to reset this preference?

    1. Rebekka,
      I had this recently, after Skype took over for callto URLs. First, I did the step that he shows for Thunderbird in the Default Programs control panel, where I told Windows that my phone app should handle callto URLs. Then I ended up just deleting the Chrome profile for that user (C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\Google) to clear the “don’t ask again” checkbox. After that, it brought back up that “attempting to launch external application” box again so that I could hit the checkbox and click launch application.

      1. Thanks, Mike. I’m having the same issue, trying to change tel and callto URLs. I set the default protocol, and it works with the MS Edge browser. Chrome, however, keeps trying to launch Google Hangouts. How did you delete the profile? I deleted the entire Google folder but could not generate the “don’t ask again” message you describe.

        Email links, incidentally, still work fine with Outlook as the external app.

  4. Great tutorial. It doesn’t work anything of that in my case.
    I want to call with Skype for business when a phone number is shown in Chrome browser but by default and I cannot change it, clicking the phone number in Chrome opens Hangouts (even with the session closed). I also have configured call protocol to Skype for business in Windows. Could anyone help me please.
    Thanks in advance

  5. Hi Arun, am still having the problem of not seeing the protocol handler icon in my address bar.
    I tried clearing my cache and restarting the browser as suggested by other sites bit to no help.

    Please help

  6. Paul Glassman

    Thanks very much. I checked a dozen help sites first, none of which solved the problem. Your did–and easily, too!

  7. I am creating a repository of gmail messages (among others)in an excel sheet.
    I copy the URL of the specific message and insert a hyperlink in an excel sheet cell.

    I have Chrome as my default browser on my win 10 and Office 2007.

    The link that I copied (when clicked on excel) takes me to my inbox.
    But by pasting the URL in my chrome browser – the specific message is showing. I cant
    get to this specific message by clicking in the excel hyperlink. It only takes me to my inbox.

    What do I do ? My repository contains links to various other docs and stuff, but I just cannot
    get to the specific e mail. All other hyperlinks work just fine.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top