Email links

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It's often useful for Web sites to be able to create links or buttons that, when clicked, open a new outgoing email message. For example, this might be used when creating a "contact us" button. This is done using the <a> element and the mailto URL scheme.

mailto basics

In its most basic, and most commonly-used, form, a mailto link simply indicates the email address of the intended recipient. For example:

<a href="">Send email to nowhere</a>

This results in a link that looks like this: Send email to nowhere.

In fact, the email address is even optional. If you leave it out (that is, your href is simply "mailto:"), a new outgoing email window will be opened by the user's mail client that has no destination address specified yet. This is rarely useful, but you can do it.

Specifying details

In addition to the email address, you can provide other information. In fact, any standard mail header fields can be added to the mailto URL you provide. The most commonly-used of these are "subject", "cc", and "body" (which is not a true header field, but allows you to specify a short content message for the new email). Each field and its value is specified as a query term.

Note: The values of each field must be URL-encoded (that is, with non-printing characters and spaces percent-escaped).

Sample mailto URLs

Here are a few sample mailto URLs:

Note the use of the ampersand (&) to separate each field in the mailto URL. This is standard URL query notation.


If you'd like to create an outgoing email asking to subscribe to a newsletter, you might use a mailto link like this:

<a href="!%0A%0AFull%20name%3A%0A%0AWhere%20did%20you%20hear%20about%20us%3F">
Subscribe to our newsletter

The resulting link looks like this: Subscribe to our newsletter.