Make Outlook Your Default Email Program

Step-by-step instructions to set up your default email client

Microsoft Outlook main screens on mobile and computer


If you have multiple email programs on your computer, you can decide which one your system uses by default. Provided you have already added an email account to your Outlook application, you can quickly choose Outlook as your go-to program for email, contacts, and calendar.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook for Microsoft 365 and Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, and 2010 running on Windows.

How to Make Outlook Your Default Email Program

Changing the settings makes Microsoft Outlook your computer's default application for sending and receiving email messages, storing appointments and reminders on a calendar, and retaining information for your contacts.

  1. Start Outlook.

  2. Go to the File tab.

    Screenshot of File tab in Outlook
  3. Select Options.

    Screenshot of Options tab in File window
  4. In the Outlook Options dialog box, select the General tab.

    This step does not apply to Outlook 2010.

    Screenshot of General tab in Outlook Options
  5. In the Start up options section, select the Make Outlook the default program for Email, Contacts, and Calendar check box.

    Screenshot showing Start up options in Outlook
  6. Select OK to apply the changes and close the Outlook Options window. Windows now recognizes Outlook as your default email and calendar program.

What to Do if You Get This Error Message

You might get this error message after clicking on a message:

Could not perform this operation because the default mail client is not properly installed 

To fix this error, select a different default email program, and then reselect Outlook as your default email program.

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