gAttach: use Gmail as your system’s default mail client


gAttach is a free program that integrates Gmail into your system as your default email service, to be used by default instead of a local client when you send email or attach files from the desktop, the browser, or any local applications.

If judging only by my friends and the people I know, the number of people using web mail services such as Gmail or Yahoomail as their primary email accounts seems to be growing exponentially.

And although there are many advantages to using web services, there is one pervasive drawback: web mail services are in general divorced from your desktop, which means that many email-integration functions that are built into your operating system or other local apps will automatically attempt to use a local client to send email, images, or other files (typically Outlook Express or Outlook) rather that Gmail.

With gAttach you now can use Gmail in lieu of a local client. Here are some examples of things you can do that previously would have automatically opened a local email client (but which gAttach will re-route to Gmail):

  • gAttach mailtoSend “mailto” email from the browser: most sites feature “mailto” links to send email that typically open the default email client and pre-populate the email and subject (see image to the right). gAttach will ensure that these open Gmail rather than a local client such as Outlook Express.
  • Send files by email using the send to menu: right click on any file, go to the send to menu, and click on “Mail Recipient” (see first screenshot above). You will be asked whether or not you want to resize the picture, and after that instead of opening a default local email client gAttach will open the Gmail login page, where it will create a new draft email with the file uploaded as an attachment.
  • gAttach email this file explorer left paneEmail any file from within Windows explorer: using the “email file” link that exists in Windows Explorer (on the left explorer pane under “File and Folder Tasks”). Behaves in the very same way as emailing using the send to menu.
  • Send links from the browser: see image to the right (from Internet Explorer). You can now send this Freewaregenius URL to your frgAttach send linkiends and be sure that IE will use Gmail rather than a local email client.
  • Other programs: gAttach will work globally from any local application that you can send email from. You can send attachments directly from applications like Picasa, Windows Photo Gallery, Microsoft Office applications, Adobe Acrobat, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.

Here are more notes on this program:

  • How it works: when you attempt to send an email or file, gAttach will open a Gmail login window. Once you enter your account info you will arrive at a new draft message with any relevant files uploaded as attachements.
  • gAttach optionsOptions: you can set gAttach to launch or not launch Gmail after creating a draft message, you can also determine whether to launch Gmail in the basic HTML version or in normal mode. Other options: whether or not to use rich text formatting and whether to suppress the default content that Windows passes along when sending files (which I presume means sending the files while creating an empty email message).
  • Use with Google Apps: if you use Google apps with your own domain name, you can configure gAttach to use that URL instead of the default Gmail. If you don’t know what this means just ignore it.
  • Login info: gAttach does not store your login info.
  • Memory use: approx 7 megs in memory.
  • Max attachment size: 20 megs, which is the max allowed by Gmail. Gmail will also not allow encrypted ZIP files or ZIP files containing executables.

Wish list: (or how this software can be even better)

  • Login page: in my experience I have found that gAttach prompts for login and password even if I am already logged into Gmail in IE (despite the program website stating the contrary). Moreover, the login page that gAttach uses does not allow for any automated password entry bots, which means that I am forced to enter my login info manually. I would much rather (a) have the option be transported into the account that I am already logged into, and (b)have the option to enter my info into gAttach and have it login automatically for me.
  • Multiple Gmail accounts: if I am logged into gmail account “a” but I entered the login info for gmail account “b” into gAttach, my new draft message will be created in gmail account “b” but, strangely, I will be sent to gmail account “a”, an issue which needs to be fixed. Honestly I would rather simply enter multiple profiles and login infos into gAttach and use a dropdown at the point of entry into Gmail to select between them (and have gAttach login automatically for me).

The verdict: all in all a very nice program. If you use Gmail  you will find this program extremely useful. gAttach is a new program and I am sure that the developer will iron out some of the kinks mentioned above (especially on handling multiple Gmail accounts). Having said that I would also recommend this to anyone using Gmail, if only for the ability to use “mailto” email links in websites without erroneously triggering local email clients.

Version Tested: 1.2008.7.2

Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, 2003 or Vista. Requires Gmail account. Also requires .NET 2.0 Framework

The program page no longer exists, but you can download ver. 1.2008.7.2 of the program here.