Set ProtonMail as the default email client in iOS

Illustration of ProtonMail in iOS

If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you can now set ProtonMail as your default email app in the latest version of iOS. This is a welcome decision from Apple to allow users to choose their preferred email service, and means that “mailto” links can now open in ProtonMail instead of Apple’s Mail app. 

Although this is a small change, it represents a win for privacy because you can now more meaningfully control how you send and receive data on your own device. Here we talk about why this matters and, toward the bottom, how you can change your default mail app to ProtonMail.

What this means for Proton users

iOS has always been a “walled garden” that Apple keeps under tight control. One of the ways it has done this is to prevent third-party apps that compete with its own apps from being set as the default apps used by iOS.

The result was that most iOS users take the path of least resistance and settle for using Mail as their email client and Safari as their browser. In this way, Apple ensures most of its users stay within the Apple ecosystem, including using lucrative premium services, such as Apple TV, Apple Music, iTunes, and iCloud.

This has been hugely profitable for Apple but is hostile to the interest of its customers. Recently, however, people have begun to push back. Following efforts from developers including Proton, Apple has made moves to placate critics, including allowing users to change their default email client and browser starting with iOS 14. 

Although a relatively minor concession for Apple, this is great news for ProtonMail users. You can now send secure end-to-end encrypted messages by default, using an open source app and a service that never spies on you or shares your data with third parties. 

Change your default email app to ProtonMail

How to set ProtonMail as default app

Here are the steps to update your default email settings:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Scroll down until you see the ProtonMail app and tap it.
  3. Tap “Default Email App.”

For more detailed instructions, including information about how to update iOS to the latest version, please our knowledge base article

Final thoughts

At Proton, our mission is to build a more secure and private internet for everyone. This is why we are developing exciting new end-to-end encrypted products, such as Proton Drive and Proton Calendar, that give you control over your own data.

Control over your data is, after all, the bedrock of online privacy. The ability to use ProtonMail as your default email app in iOS gives you greater control over your data, and is therefore a win for privacy.

You can get a free secure email account from ProtonMail here.

We also provide a free VPN service to protect your privacy. ProtonMail and ProtonVPN are funded by community contributions. If you would like to support our development efforts, you can upgrade to a paid plan. Thank you for your support.

About the Author

Douglas Crawford

Douglas has worked for many years as a technology writer in the cyberprivacy and cybersecurity sector. He is now very pleased to work for a company with a mission that he passionately believes in.


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8 comments on “Set ProtonMail as the default email client in iOS

  • Good news. I hope the next step will be to provide Protonmail service without using Google Play or Apple Store for more privary. This day will be a BIG day.

  • Great news, thanks a lot. In case anyone has troubles or not having the option “Default Browser App”, you need to delete and re-install Protonmail app on iOS again. Takes less than a minute. I had that issue and afterwards option was available.

  • Hi Doug, in your bio section, I think you meant that you passionately believe in Proton’s mission – I don’t get the impression that you are passionless about the things you are writing about! 🙂

  • The sad fact with iOS however, is that each time one updates and/or upgrades its iOS, its users incrementally have lost and continue to lose functionalities, previously available—most of which we (i.e.: I), took for granted. Newer iOS users—unawares of how its features had been, (say, way back in iOS 3.x, 4.x, etc…)—will never know how much flexibility previous iOS had, within each app., (my favorite being iCab mobile), how much doing we could in fact do. Nowadays, the Internet-sewage the net has become, all joy of getting in, getting something done securely, quickly, easily and effectively, is gone! I’ve been ‘married-to-Apple’, (and Macs), 31 years.(iOS Devices), 12 years; longest marriage I’ve had. All my attempts, at ‘divorcing it’, have failed. Nevertheless, regardless of how Apple has disserviced its ‘spouses’, by removing functionality after functionality, I’ve found the alternative (i.e.: Win10 Pro.Android/Google, et al) even worst.

  • Does Proton have its own browser? I would like to migrate away from Mozilla. IE is out of the question. I’ve looked at the Brave browser but it has more bells & whistles (potential privacy pitfalls?) than I would like. At least Mozilla’s custom settings, with most other boxes unchecked in the settings menus (i.e., opted out), and a blank screen for home page, gives me reasonable assurance that I am browsing privately and sending/receiving documents privately. Thanks Proton People.

  • “Apple to allow users to choose their preferred email service, and means that “mailto” links can now open in ProtonMail”
    instead of Apple’s Mail

    Regarding above statement, I am new to ProtonMail and like it. But I have a question…if you send a ProtonMail to someone outside Proton, am I correct that oneI would have to send them a password separately for the receiver to access the email? If one sends many emails to non-Proton users, won’t this make extra work for both sender and receiver? Hopefully, I’ve misunderstood something. (which I probably have…)

    • Hi Betty. You can send emails unencrypted to non-ProtonMail users in the usual way. These are stored securely on our zero-access servers, but can be read by the recipient’s email provider. If you opt to use our Encrypt for non-ProtonMail users feature for full end-to-end encryption then yes, you will need to communicate the password in some other way.