How to Make Outlook Your Default Email Client

How to set Outlook as your default email client in Windows

Dozens of colorful envelopes with letters sticking out.

 Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

When you select an email address in a web browser, it opens your default email program, but that may not be the app you prefer to use. You may have installed a new email client or you may want to use an old one you still have installed, such as Outlook Express (which has been discontinued). Here's how to set your default email program in Windows.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003; Outlook for Office 365; Outlook Online; Outlook Express; and Windows Mail.

Which Version of Windows Do You Use?

It's easy to change your default email client in at any time. You'll find the settings in Windows. But, before you begin, check to see which Windows version you have. Changing the default email settings is different in different versions of Windows.

Set the Default Email Client in Windows 10

To change the default email client in Windows 10:

  1. Go to the Windows taskbar and select Start.

  2. Select Settings (the gear icon).

    Selecting Settings in Windows 10.
  3. In the Windows Settings dialog box, go to the Find a setting text box and enter Default.

    Instead of searching in the Windows Settings dialog box, another method is to search from the Ask me anything search box in the Windows taskbar.

  4. Select Default app settings.

    Looking for default app settings in Windows 10.
  5. Select Mail to display a list of email apps that are installed on your computer.

  6. Select Outlook.

    Selecting a default email client in Windows 10.

    If you don't want to use Outlook as the default email app, choose a different email app from the list or select Look for an app in the Store to install a different email app.

  7. Close the Settings dialog box.

Add an Outlook.com Email to Windows 10

With Windows 10, you may no longer have access to Outlook Express. Fortunately, Windows 10 has a built-in email client called Mail.

To add your Outlook.com email (or any email) to Windows Mail:

  1. Go to the Windows taskbar, select Start, then choose Mail.

    Selecting Windows 10 mail app.
  2. In Windows Mail, select Settings (the gear icon).

  3. Select Manage Accounts.

    Choosing manage accounts in Windows Mail.
  4. Select Add account.

    Selecting add account in Windows 10 Mail.
  5. In the Add an account dialog box, select Outlook.com.

    Choosing to setup an Outlook.com email in Windows 10 Mail.
  6. In the Add your Microsoft account dialog box, enter your email address, then select Next.

    Preparing to enter an email to setup in Mail in Windows 10.
  7. In the Enter password dialog box, enter your Outlook.com password, then select Sign in.

    Prompt to enter a password for an email being setup in Windows Mail.
  8. If you set up Windows Hello or two-step verification, follow the prompts to enter the pin or code.

    Prompt for a pin in Windows 10.
  9. After you've signed in, select Done.

    Completion of setting up an email address in Windows 10 Mail.
  10. Your Outlook.com email address appears in the accounts list.

Set the Default Email Program in Windows Vista and 7

To configure Outlook Express as your default email program in Windows Vista and Windows 7:

  1. Select Start.

  2. Go to the Start Search box and enter default programs.

  3. In the search results, go to the Program section and select Default Programs.

  4. Select Set your default programs.

  5. Select either Outlook Express or Outlook.

  6. Select Set this program as default.

  7. Select OK.

Set the Default Mail Program in Windows XP, 2000, and 98

To set Outlook as your default program for email:

  1. Select Tools > Internet Options.

  2. Select the Programs tab.

  3. In the E-mail section, select Outlook Express.

  4. Select OK.