Determine user's default email client

Discussion in 'Javascript' started by Mike, Oct 5, 2004.

  1. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is? I
    read a post from 3 years ago that said no. I guess I'm hoping
    something has come along since then.
    Mike, Oct 5, 2004
    #1
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  2. On 5 Oct 2004 05:08:20 -0700, Mike <> wrote:

    > Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is? I
    > read a post from 3 years ago that said no. I guess I'm hoping something
    > has come along since then.


    You might be able to through ActiveX, but as I stay clear of that, I
    couldn't say. Irrespective of that, in most cases the answer is still no.
    I can't say of what use it would be, anyway.

    Mike

    --
    Michael Winter
    Replace ".invalid" with ".uk" to reply by e-mail.
    Michael Winter, Oct 5, 2004
    #2
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  3. On Tue, 05 Oct 2004 12:48:12 GMT, Andrew Thompson <>
    wrote:

    > On 5 Oct 2004 05:08:20 -0700, Mike wrote:
    >
    >> Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is? I
    >> read a post from 3 years ago that said no. I guess I'm hoping
    >> something has come along since then.

    >
    > Hi tech stuff.
    >
    > // requires 'wetware' plug-in, sold separately
    > window.prompt("What is your email client?");


    Sorry to nit-pick, but that's not necessarily the same thing, is it. A
    user might say that their mail client is the Hotmail Web interface, yet
    their system's configured client is Mozilla. Similarly, a user might use
    Opera's built-in M2 client for their mail, but haven't had it override OE
    on a Windows installation.

    Mike

    --
    Michael Winter
    Replace ".invalid" with ".uk" to reply by e-mail.
    Michael Winter, Oct 5, 2004
    #3
  4. Mike wrote:
    > Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is?


    In an Internet/standard security context the answer is no. (and there
    may be no default e-mail client, and if there is the browser may not
    know about it).

    In a lax security context, running exclusively Windows IE, then you can
    probably pull the information from the registry with WSH, and also know
    enough about the users to know that their e-mail client will exist and
    be properly set-up. Though you would probably also already know which it
    was in that context.

    > I read a post from 3 years ago that said no.
    > I guess I'm hoping something has come along since then.


    What has come along is ever tighter security (and more user veto) in web
    browsers in response to ever more aggressive and abusive web coding.

    Richard.
    Richard Cornford, Oct 5, 2004
    #4
  5. Mike

    Fred Oz Guest

    Michael Winter wrote:
    [snip]
    > Sorry to nit-pick, but that's not necessarily the same thing, is it. A


    I'll go one better, 'wetware' isn't sold (not in my part of the world
    anyway), it's conceived ;-)

    Fred.
    Fred Oz, Oct 5, 2004
    #5
  6. On Tue, 05 Oct 2004 13:42:51 GMT, Andrew Thompson <>
    wrote:

    [snip]

    > (rolls eyes dramatically) Never let technical details
    > get in the way of a good story, Mike!


    Didn't I say a few days ago that I deserved to be labelled pedantic. :D

    > [ Besides, I hear the wetware plug-in does not have a very high
    > usage rate amongst your average net surfers in any case. Something
    > about 'pop-up thoughts' and the possibility of spyware... ]


    :)

    Mike

    --
    Michael Winter
    Replace ".invalid" with ".uk" to reply by e-mail.
    Michael Winter, Oct 5, 2004
    #6
  7. Michael Winter wrote:

    >>> Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is?


    >> // requires 'wetware' plug-in, sold separately
    >> window.prompt("What is your email client?");

    >
    > Sorry to nit-pick, but that's not necessarily the same thing, is it. A
    > user might say that their mail client is the Hotmail Web interface, yet
    > their system's configured client is Mozilla.


    The question was about the user's default, not the system default :)

    --
    David Dorward <http://blog.dorward.me.uk/> <http://dorward.me.uk/>
    Home is where the ~/.bashrc is
    David Dorward, Oct 5, 2004
    #7
  8. Robert wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > (Mike) wrote:
    >
    >> Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is? I
    >> read a post from 3 years ago that said no. I guess I'm hoping
    >> something has come along since then.

    >
    > For the internet, it is best to avoid sending email through an email
    > client.


    I disagree.

    > Instead, use a form to send the data to a server and have the server
    > send the email.


    I hate form based email and prefer to use the full capabilities of my
    email client.

    --
    If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?
    Andrew DeFaria, Oct 6, 2004
    #8
  9. Mike

    Randy Webb Guest

    Andrew DeFaria wrote:

    > Robert wrote:
    >
    >> In article <>,
    >> (Mike) wrote:
    >>
    >>> Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is? I
    >>> read a post from 3 years ago that said no. I guess I'm hoping
    >>> something has come along since then.

    >>
    >>
    >> For the internet, it is best to avoid sending email through an email
    >> client.

    >
    > I disagree.


    You have that right. Even when its been shown to be solid advice not to
    use mailto: on an internet site.

    >> Instead, use a form to send the data to a server and have the server
    >> send the email.

    >
    >
    > I hate form based email and prefer to use the full capabilities of my
    > email client.


    And that is your choice. But given an internet audience, that can not be
    reasonably assumed. But to be fair, I will give you a chance to back up
    your beliefs. Fair enough?

    If you can provide script or HTML that can successfully send an email
    (through an email client) in my IE6, I will start endorsing mailto:.
    Until then, its a *very very bad idea* for an internet site.

    My IE6 SP2 Configuration:

    No email client associated.
    Email in IE6 SP2 is sent via a Flash App from my ISP.

    Now, how do you propose to navigate to my login page, log me in, fill
    out that Flash form, then send it?



    --
    Randy
    comp.lang.javascript FAQ - http://jibbering.com/faq
    Randy Webb, Oct 6, 2004
    #9
  10. Mike

    Philip Ronan Guest

    On 6/10/04 6:10 pm, Randy Webb wrote:

    > If you can provide script or HTML that can successfully send an email
    > (through an email client) in my IE6, I will start endorsing mailto:.
    > Until then, its a *very very bad idea* for an internet site.


    Some people (myself included) find web forms more of a hassle than ordinary
    mailto links.

    When I send an email from my regular email client, it fills in my name and
    email address automatically. It checks my spelling. It retains a copy of
    every email I send. It attaches my default signature containing my website
    URL, phone number and other such information that recipients might find
    useful. It also allows me to add other headers such as CC, BCC, Priority.

    I can't do any of that with a web form.

    But I also realize that some people are unable to use mailto: links
    successfully. The obvious answer is to offer both alternatives to your
    visitors.

    That's my 2p worth, anyhow.

    Phil
    --
    Philip Ronan

    (Please remove the "z"s if replying by email)
    Philip Ronan, Oct 6, 2004
    #10
  11. On Tue, 05 Oct 2004 19:44:54 +0100, David Dorward <>
    wrote:

    [Mike <> wrote:]
    >>>> Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is?


    [snip]

    > The question was about the user's default, not the system default :)


    I suppose you could read it that way, but I'd associate the phrase
    "default client" with the client that would be invoked when performing
    some kind of mail action. That is, the system default.

    Mike

    --
    Michael Winter
    Replace ".invalid" with ".uk" to reply by e-mail.
    Michael Winter, Oct 6, 2004
    #11
  12. Randy Webb wrote:

    > Andrew DeFaria wrote:
    >
    >> Robert wrote:
    >>
    >>> In article <>,
    >>> (Mike) wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is?
    >>>> I read a post from 3 years ago that said no. I guess I'm hoping
    >>>> something has come along since then.
    >>>
    >>> For the internet, it is best to avoid sending email through an email
    >>> client.

    >>
    >> I disagree.

    >
    > You have that right. Even when its been shown to be solid advice not
    > to use mailto: on an internet site.


    I've seen no such solid advice as you say exists.

    >>> Instead, use a form to send the data to a server and have the server
    >>> send the email.

    >>
    >> I hate form based email and prefer to use the full capabilities of my
    >> email client.

    >
    > And that is your choice. But given an internet audience, that can not
    > be reasonably assumed.


    Sure it can. You mean you can not assume that somebody using a browser
    is also using and email client?!? I bet more people use email than browsers.

    > But to be fair, I will give you a chance to back up your beliefs. Fair
    > enough?
    >
    > If you can provide script or HTML that can successfully send an email
    > (through an email client) in my IE6, I will start endorsing mailto:.
    > Until then, its a *very very bad idea* for an internet site.
    >
    > My IE6 SP2 Configuration:
    >
    > No email client associated.
    > Email in IE6 SP2 is sent via a Flash App from my ISP.
    >
    > Now, how do you propose to navigate to my login page, log me in, fill
    > out that Flash form, then send it?


    Why do you have no email client configured? That's extremely odd. You
    say that all you haven is IE6 and you do all of your email through
    that?!? You're user agent here says Mozilla/5.0. Last I checked Mozilla
    not only does email (quite well mind you) but installs such that the
    default email client is indeed configured. Therefore mailto links work.

    Or have you purposely turned that off such that you don't use Mozilla to
    do email (but do use it to respond to this newsgroup?!?). If you have
    purposely turned it off because you deliberately wish to disable it then
    you are also explicitly saying that you don't want mailto links to work.
    If that be the case then there should be no surprise to you that they don't.

    Also, you are assuming that a user has not done the reverse and decided
    that emailing is OK but browsing is wrong and had disabled his browser,
    in which case browser based form email will not work.

    Look, mailto links are exactly for sending email and that's why the
    named it that.

    --
    Department of Redundancy Department
    Andrew DeFaria, Oct 6, 2004
    #12
  13. Philip Ronan wrote:

    > Some people (myself included) find web forms more of a hassle than
    > ordinary mailto links.
    >
    > When I send an email from my regular email client, it fills in my name
    > and email address automatically. It checks my spelling. It retains a
    > copy of every email I send. It attaches my default signature
    > containing my website URL, phone number and other such information
    > that recipients might find useful. It also allows me to add other
    > headers such as CC, BCC, Priority.
    >
    > I can't do any of that with a web form.


    Exactly. Also, you often cannot see the sending address on a form. Now a
    lot of companies use that to hide it so that you can't email them
    repeatedly should they fail to respond (well you could script up
    something to constantly hit their web site but talk about major hassle).
    I don't that either. Look I tell you who I am and I expect the same
    courtesy from people I communicate with, be it by phone, in person,
    letter or email.

    > But I also realize that some people are unable to use mailto: links
    > successfully.


    Which people might these be? Why not take the tack of getting them to be
    able to successfully use their email clients?

    --
    2 + 2 = 5 for extremely large values of 2.
    Andrew DeFaria, Oct 6, 2004
    #13
  14. Mike

    Randy Webb Guest

    Andrew DeFaria wrote:

    > Randy Webb wrote:
    >
    >> Andrew DeFaria wrote:
    >>
    >>> Robert wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> In article <>,
    >>>> (Mike) wrote:
    >>>>
    >>>>> Is there a way to determine what a user's default email client is?
    >>>>> I read a post from 3 years ago that said no. I guess I'm hoping
    >>>>> something has come along since then.
    >>>>
    >>>>
    >>>> For the internet, it is best to avoid sending email through an email
    >>>> client.
    >>>
    >>>
    >>> I disagree.

    >>
    >>
    >> You have that right. Even when its been shown to be solid advice not
    >> to use mailto: on an internet site.

    >
    >
    > I've seen no such solid advice as you say exists.


    http://www.isolani.co.uk/articles/mailto.html

    http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&q=mailto broken&meta=group=comp.lang.javascript

    might be interesting reading.

    >>>> Instead, use a form to send the data to a server and have the server
    >>>> send the email.
    >>>
    >>>
    >>> I hate form based email and prefer to use the full capabilities of my
    >>> email client.

    >>
    >>
    >> And that is your choice. But given an internet audience, that can not
    >> be reasonably assumed.

    >
    >
    > Sure it can. You mean you can not assume that somebody using a browser
    > is also using and email client?!? I bet more people use email than
    > browsers.


    Yes, it means I can not assume that a browser has a default email client
    associated with it. IE6 on WinXP - straight out of the box - has NO
    email client associated with it. *none*. Every time I click a mailto:
    link in IE, it asks me if I want to install Outlook Express and
    associate it. Sorry, I would rather have a root canal done through my
    rectum than install the POS. And I get that effect because the unknowing
    "web guru" thinks its the "best way" to send an email. Its not.


    >> But to be fair, I will give you a chance to back up your beliefs. Fair
    >> enough?
    >>
    >> If you can provide script or HTML that can successfully send an email
    >> (through an email client) in my IE6, I will start endorsing mailto:.
    >> Until then, its a *very very bad idea* for an internet site.
    >>
    >> My IE6 SP2 Configuration:
    >>
    >> No email client associated.
    >> Email in IE6 SP2 is sent via a Flash App from my ISP.
    >>
    >> Now, how do you propose to navigate to my login page, log me in, fill
    >> out that Flash form, then send it?

    >
    >
    > Why do you have no email client configured? That's extremely odd. You
    > say that all you haven is IE6 and you do all of your email through
    > that?!? You're user agent here says Mozilla/5.0. Last I checked Mozilla
    > not only does email (quite well mind you) but installs such that the
    > default email client is indeed configured. Therefore mailto links work.


    My user agent for news is indeed Mozilla. I use it strictly for the News
    Agent and Browsing, *not* email. But granted, its probably because I
    have never had the time, nor inclination, to sit and go through the
    setup, learn all its vulnerabilities, how to fix them, and then use it.

    But when I installed Mozilla, it did *not* configure the email section.
    I stopped it because when I installed it, my email was configured
    through a web-based application (via Flash) that is used by Comcast
    Cable. In fact, the *only* way for me to send email from that address is
    through that application. It can't even be configured for Mozilla (not
    that I want to).

    But you still have not addressed the question. How do you propose to
    write a link that when clicked will open the Comcast site, log me in,
    and open the compose mail flash app, and then fill it out?

    Also, I didn't say thats all I have. I was giving my IE6 configuration,
    for you to explain to me how you intend for a mailto: link to work in
    that configuration.

    If you want, I can also give you the configuration of the PC's on the
    intranet that I work on all day. Every one of them is running Windows XP
    (some have SP2, some don't), but not a single one has an email client
    installed.

    > Or have you purposely turned that off such that you don't use Mozilla to
    > do email (but do use it to respond to this newsgroup?!?). If you have
    > purposely turned it off because you deliberately wish to disable it then
    > you are also explicitly saying that you don't want mailto links to work.


    I am not "explicitly saying" anything, I am declining to setup more of a
    browser combination that I have a need for. I didn't do it that way to
    "break mailto links", I did it that way because its the way *I* wanted
    it. Not the way some web guru thinks, or needs, it to be set up so
    his/her unreliable mailto: links will work.

    > If that be the case then there should be no surprise to you that they
    > don't.


    It didn't surprise me *before* set it up that way. But to be fair, I
    will quote code on the MSDN site:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/workshop/networking/predefined/mailto.asp

    <A HREF="mailto:?
    subject=Feedback&amp;
    body=The%20InetSDK%20Site%20Is%20Superlative">
    Click here to send feedback to the InetSDK.</A>

    I can tell you, from testing, what that link does in AOL. Can you guess?

    > Also, you are assuming that a user has not done the reverse and decided
    > that emailing is OK but browsing is wrong and had disabled his browser,
    > in which case browser based form email will not work.


    If they are using email and not browsing, that is there choice. I don't
    really care. But mailto: on an internet site is *unreliable*. But, if
    they have, how in the world do you think a mailto: link would work, on a
    website, for someone that has disabled the browser??????

    > Look, mailto links are exactly for sending email and that's why the
    > named it that.


    I never said that wasn't the intended purpose of a mailto: link, I said
    "They do not work *reliably*" with "reliably" being the key word there.


    --
    Randy
    comp.lang.javascript FAQ - http://jibbering.com/faq
    Randy Webb, Oct 6, 2004
    #14
  15. Mike

    Philip Ronan Guest

    On 6/10/04 10:25 pm, Andrew DeFaria wrote:

    >> But I also realize that some people are unable to use mailto: links
    >> successfully.

    >
    > Which people might these be? Why not take the tack of getting them to be
    > able to successfully use their email clients?


    People who are using someone else's computer, or borrowing a terminal at the
    local library (where there isn't any email software installed).

    That kind of thing.

    --
    Philip Ronan

    (Please remove the "z"s if replying by email)
    Philip Ronan, Oct 7, 2004
    #15
  16. Mike

    Philip Ronan Guest

    On 6/10/04 11:45 pm, Randy Webb wrote:

    >> Randy Webb wrote:
    >>
    >> I've seen no such solid advice as you say exists.

    >
    > http://www.isolani.co.uk/articles/mailto.html


    /bangs head against wall...

    That article is about the pitfalls of declaring mailto URLs as the action
    attribute of web forms.

    It is not relevant to this thread.

    --
    Philip Ronan

    (Please remove the "z"s if replying by email)
    Philip Ronan, Oct 7, 2004
    #16
  17. Mike

    Lee Guest

    Philip Ronan said:
    >
    >On 6/10/04 11:45 pm, Randy Webb wrote:
    >
    >>> Randy Webb wrote:
    >>>
    >>> I've seen no such solid advice as you say exists.

    >>
    >> http://www.isolani.co.uk/articles/mailto.html

    >
    >/bangs head against wall...
    >
    >That article is about the pitfalls of declaring mailto URLs as the action
    >attribute of web forms.
    >
    >It is not relevant to this thread.


    Certainly it's relevant. All of the warnings about mailto in that
    article apply to the "mailto:" protocol, regardless of whether it
    appears in an ACTION attribute or an HREF attribute.
    Lee, Oct 7, 2004
    #17
  18. Mike

    Lee Guest

    Andrew DeFaria said:

    >Why do you have no email client configured? That's extremely odd.


    No it isn't.

    I'm sitting in front of three computers.
    I use all of them for browsing.
    I only have an email client on one of them.

    I also use a computer in a lab at the local University.
    It has Mozilla installed, and even has an email client
    configured, but all SMTP traffic is blocked.

    I sometimes use the browser at the local library.
    There is no email client on the machine.

    I also use my PDA for browsing. It has an email client,
    but the browser doesn't support the mailto: protocol.

    Any one of these may be considered as "extremely odd",
    but there are enough people with one or more of these
    situations (or variations) that, taken together, it is
    not extremely odd for a browser to have no email client.
    Lee, Oct 7, 2004
    #18
  19. Lee wrote:

    > Andrew DeFaria said:
    >
    >> Why do you have no email client configured? That's extremely odd.

    >
    > No it isn't.


    Yes it is.

    > I'm sitting in front of three computers.
    > I use all of them for browsing.
    > I only have an email client on one of them.


    That's odd.

    > I also use a computer in a lab at the local University.
    > It has Mozilla installed, and even has an email client
    > configured, but all SMTP traffic is blocked.


    That's similarly odd.

    > I sometimes use the browser at the local library.
    > There is no email client on the machine.


    That's odd too.

    > I also use my PDA for browsing. It has an email client,
    > but the browser doesn't support the mailto: protocol.
    >
    > Any one of these may be considered as "extremely odd",
    > but there are enough people with one or more of these
    > situations (or variations) that, taken together, it is
    > not extremely odd for a browser to have no email client.


    Well it is for me.
    --
    Cannot find REALITY.SYS. Universe halted.
    Andrew DeFaria, Oct 7, 2004
    #19
  20. Mike

    Randy Webb Guest

    Philip Ronan wrote:
    > On 6/10/04 11:45 pm, Randy Webb wrote:
    >
    >
    >>>Randy Webb wrote:
    >>>
    >>>I've seen no such solid advice as you say exists.

    >>
    >>http://www.isolani.co.uk/articles/mailto.html

    >
    >
    > /bangs head against wall...
    >
    > That article is about the pitfalls of declaring mailto URLs as the action
    > attribute of web forms.
    >
    > It is not relevant to this thread.
    >


    Keep reading it, and it goes into the pitfalls of IE and OE. Yes, its
    mostly about mailto in web forms, but it does touch on the other uses.
    And granted, its not the one I was looking for (there is another, that I
    can not find, that covers mailto: as an href).

    Perhaps some day I may sit down, test it in different browsers, with
    different parameters to mailto: and post the results. Not so much to
    debunk mailto: but to show how it reacts in certain scenarios.

    --
    Randy
    comp.lang.javascript FAQ - http://jibbering.com/faq
    Randy Webb, Oct 7, 2004
    #20
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