GoogleApps (Gmail) as default Ubuntu mail client

Keeping mail on a local machine does not make sense when working across a large number of different (vitual) devices. As a GoogleApps user I have long preferred browser based mail client as my default.

Unfortunately this is not yet a very straight process on most Operating Systems and Ubuntu is no difference.

Edit: all the commands need to be run with root privileges. so either run “sudo su” or prefix all with “sudo ” (thanks to Paul for the comment below)

Remove Evolution (thanks to Grant Likely for the comment below)

apt-get remove evolution evolution-indicator

Install Gnome-Gmail

apt-get install gnome-gmail

Create entry for gnome-gmail using your preferred text editor and copy the following into the created file:

vim /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/gnome-gmail
#insert this line

Edit this file: /usr/share/applications/gnome-gmail.desktop and add the following line:


Update desktop database for Gnome Gmail to be recognised as an email program:


Go to System Settings –> Preferred Applications and choose gnome-gmail as the default e-mail client

Log out for the changes to the indicator to take effect (or kill gnome-indicator process).

Desktop Notifications

Author: Leo Gaggl

ict business owner specialising in mobile learning systems. interests: sustainability, internet of things, ict for development, open innovation, agriculture

9 thoughts on “GoogleApps (Gmail) as default Ubuntu mail client”

  1. One refinement:

    To remove the evolution indicator:
    $ apt-get remove evolution-indicator

    Also, I didn’t need to add the gnome-gmail file to /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/gnome-gmail, but I’m using Natty, so that might just work now.

  2. Thanks for the refinement ! Have added this to the post. I was using Natty Beta as well – looks like some issues are already fixed. Hopefully the MIME Type will be added as well as it is already a known issue.

  3. Create entry for gnome-gmail using your preferred text editor and copy the following into the created file:

    What do you mean with this? Do I have to create a new document en copy-paste the code or something? Sorry, new Ubuntu user here.

  4. Nvm got it. However, when I’m trying to update the databases I get this:

    “The databases in [/usr/share/gnome/applications, /usr/local/share/applications, /usr/share/applications] could not be updated.”

  5. Nvm nvm, figured it out, eventually. It’s working, thanks!
    You can delete all my posts lol.

  6. Great! Thank you. Finally got this working after installing gnome-gmail several times on Natty.

    Couple refinements:
    1) the vi entry needed to be run as root; ie the command should be:
    # sudo vi /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/gnome-gmail
    Then press “i” (or a), then type or paste in the line to add, then press Esc, then :wq

    2) Editing the gnome-gmail.desktop, likewise, needs to be done as root. This command should say:
    # sudo vi /usr/share/applications/gnome-gmail.desktop
    Then press “a”, paste in the line, press Esc and type :wq

    3) I believe update-desktop-database also needs a “sudo” in front of it.

    After doing this Gnome Gmail finally shows up in Preferred apps. Whoop whoop!

  7. Hi Paul,

    You are of course right – all these commands need to be run as root (apt-get as well).

    I generally just use

    # sudo su

    Saves having to sudo everything when doing admin tasks. But I will add this as an edit above.

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