How to change your Mac's default Web browser and email app

Sick of Safari and Mail? Changing your default browser and email client on OS X is easy.

safari icon osx

Back in the early days of OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system shipped with an Internet preference pane that let you change, among other things, your default Web browser and email app. At some point, Apple decided to put these settings in Safari and Mail, respectively, but with OS X Yosemite and later, the option to change your default Web browser returned to its rightful home in System Preferences.

If you’d like to change your Mac’s default browser, open System Preferences (look in the Apple menu if you don’t know where to find it), then click General. Next, find the pop-up menu labelled “Default web browser:” Click it, then choose whichever browser you’d like to use as your default.

change web browser

The default browser picker. Not every app that appears here is a proper Web browser, however.

There are a couple other things you’ll want to be aware of. First, the Default web browser menu lists any app on your computer that can open Web pages, even if they aren’t necessarily a Web browser, per se. On my computer, for example, Evernote, Cyberduck (an FTP player), and Flip Player (which brings Windows Media compatibility to QuickTime) appear in the pop-up menu, but none of those are browsers.

new email app

If you want to change your default email app, you still need to go through Mail.

Second, if you want to change your email client, you still need to do so through Apple’s Mail app. Open Mail, then choose Preferences… from the Mail menu. Click General, then select a new email app from the Default email reader pop-up menu.

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