Fix: “Read Mail” button does not work in Internet Explorer

When you click the Read Mail button in the Command Bar in Internet Explorer, nothing may happen. The Read Mail button is supposed to launch the default mail client, and this problem occurs if the default mail client is not correctly set. Follow these steps to resolve the problem.

Instructions for Windows XP

Step I

1. Right-click on the Taskbar and click Properties

2. Select the Start Menu tab

3. Select the Start menu option, and click Customize…

4. Click the E-mail drop down box and select your mail client.

Important: If your mail client is already showing up as the default option, you still need to click the drop down menu and select the item. Otherwise the setting will not be saved correctly!

5. Click OK.

Step II





Note: You need to login as Administrator or equivalent to perform the following steps.

1. Open Internet Explorer

2. Click the Tools menu and choose Internet Options

3. Click Programs tab

4. Select your mail client from the drop down box.

5. Click OK to close the dialog.

Instructions for Windows Vista

1. Click Start, select Default Programs

2. Click Set your default programs

3. Select your mail client from the list

4. Click Set this program as default, and click OK.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

16 thoughts on “Fix: “Read Mail” button does not work in Internet Explorer

  1. How do I add an email client accessible directly but not listed as a program option in customize nor in internet explorer email programs?

  2. Thanks fixed my XP system. Had to do both steps but it worked. I also had to switch to the new view vs my selected classic view to see the screen to fix as shown in the example.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion. Outlook express was already there- all I did was click it again and press apply, then ok.

  4. Thanks it worked with Step 1 ! Am under XP pro and IE 8.
    Still do not understand why all of a sudden I connected to Outlook ,
    using the “envelope” on the command bar, instead of Outlook Express as
    was the case previously. My switch to IE 8 was not done a week ago but way back right when Microsoft offered the upgrade … strange

  5. didnt work on mine. ””””xp doesn’t look like example. Internet options to set program to outlook express, or outlook or other the mail button still doesn’t workl

  6. YOU ARE BRILLIANT. I TRIED RESETTING OUTLOOK EXPRESS THROUGH EVERY TOOBAR I COULD THINK OF EXCEPT FOR THE TASKBAR. PLUS MENTIONING THAT IT NEEDS TO BE CHOSEN EVEN IF IT’S ALREADY HIGHLIGHTED REALLY HELPS. THIS STEP FIXED IT.

    THANKS AGAIN.

  7. Many thanks! After looking at a ton of cryptic suggestion on other sites, this clear, step-by-step procedure was just the ticket for a none too savy “Computer for Dummies” user. Worked first try.

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