Multiple browser windows open when you click on a mailto: link

Created: June 06, 2004
Revised : Sept 17, 2007
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When you click on a mailto: URL in Internet Explorer, multiple instances of Internet Explorer opens (more than 60 windows) with the error Action Cancelled and the mail client is not invoked. You may also see the following error:

Could not perform this operation because the default mail client is not properly installed


The problem happens due to one of these reasons:

  1. Mailto handler is not correctly set.
  2. Missing URL Protocol registry value.
  3. Incorrect registry permissions for the mailto key.


Set the default E-mail client

Instructions for Windows XP:

Instructions for Windows Vista:

Then, follow these steps:

If the above does not help, follow these steps:

Re-create the missing string value


Unable to access the "mailto" branch?

Note: The following steps are written for Windows XP systems, but the steps can be adapted for Windows Vista.

If you receive an error when accessing the "mailto" registry key, then it must be due to incorrect Permissions. Follow these steps to fix the Permissions for that key and subkeys:

Taking ownership of the mailto key and sub-keys


Setting the Permissions for the mailto key

Make sure that the users have Read access to the above registry key. Administrators and the SYSTEM group should have Full Control over the above key, and Users should have Read access.


Object Permissions
Creator Owner Full Control
Administrators Full Control
Users Read
System Full Control

For more information on configuring registry permissions, read the following article:

How To Use the Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 Registry Editor Features

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