Change the default email application on OS X (to Airmail 2 in this example)

Airmail 2.0 screenshot

The latest version of the  versatile email client, Airmail 2.0, was released recently. I’ve been considering switching from Apple’s default mail app for some time now, and with this new version of Airmail I decided to jump ship.

The problem is, every time you click on a web link in your browser, Mail.app automatically fires itself up. Very irritating! So how do you set up Airmail (or an alternative email client) as your default in Mac OS X?

Apple Mail PreferencesTo change the default OS X email client:

  1. Open the original Mail.app.
  2. Browse to the application’s Preferences page.
  3. On the General tab, change the default email reader to your new preferred program.
  4. Optional: I tend to flick to the Accounts tab and disable the email accounts I’m using in Airmail. This means if I accidentally fire up the old Mail.app, it won’t suddenly start downloading tons of messages!
  5. Quit the original mail app and click on an email link on a web page. After a brief delay, your new mail client should fire up with a blank email message. Awesome!

Does anyone else find OS X’s handling of default applications a bit…confusing? It’d be nice to have one central location to manage these changes. Get on it, Apple!

Why Airmail?

I’m a huge fan of trying out different email software. I chose the original Airmail for its Gmail integration features and because I manage multiple email accounts, the unified inbox really suited me.

Airmail 2.0 has some neat features – similar to Gmail’s Inbox – you can flag emails as ToDos. However, while Inbox’s minimalist featureset may suit some people, it doesn’t have necessary business features like signatures yet. Airmail can effortlessly handle multiple sigs with rich formatting.

And though you could argue that Gmail does a fine job of handling email, I find it’s easier to work with a separate client rather than getting lost among a maze of open tabs in my web browser.