Archived - Browse the Internet and Mail Icons: Setting the Helper Applications

This article explains how to set up the applications launched by clicking on the Mail and Browse the Internet aliases on the Finder Desktop. These icons are installed in Mac OS versions 8.5 and later.
This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
First, it is important to note that the two icons are placed on the desktop as a convenience to less experienced users who may not understand which application to open in order to use the Web or email. You may choose to continue to use them or delete them and launch the mail or Web application of choice directly by double-clicking on the application itself.

When launched, these shortcuts check the Preferences folder for a file named Internet Preferences, which is created by either the Internet Config application or the Internet control panel (Mac OS 8.5 and later). This file contains, among other things, the setting for your default Internet applications. If no application has been set as the default, an error will appear.

Note: The error dialog may also appear if the Internet Preferences file is missing or damaged.

Changing the default application used by the Browse the Internet and Mail Icons
Use this procedure to change the default browser used by the Browse The Internet icon, or to set the default application for the first time.

Mac OS 8.5 and later:
    1. Open the Internet control panel.
    2. Click on the Web tab.
    3. Choose a Web browser from the "Default Web Browser" pop-up menu at the bottom of the window. The email and News tabs have similar menus.
    4. Close the control panel and allow it to save the changes.

Other Mac OS Versions:
    1. Open the Internet Config application. Mac OS 8 installs it in the following location: Macintosh HD --> Internet --> Internet Utilities --> Internet Config.
    2. When opened, Internet Config will display a window containing 10 options that appear as buttons. Click once on the option named Helpers.
    3. A list should appear, showing a number of different file types and the applications defined to work with them. Choose the item that begins "http", then click Change.
    4. If you do not have an "http" file type listed, click Add, and type "http" in the field listed "Helper for:" in the Add Helper window that comes up.
    5. In the Add Helper window, click Choose Helper... . A standard Open dialog will appear, navigate to and then select the web browser of your choice.
Steps 3 and 5 may be repeated for other file types such as "https", that use a Web browser to switch to your preferred Web browser.

For setting the default application for the Mail icon, the above steps can be repeated for the file type "mailto" instead of "http".

Most other settings are fine as they are. When quitting Internet Config, be sure to save changes when it prompts you to do so. The Internet Preferences file will be modified to reflect the changes you have made.
Last Modified: Feb 18, 2012
  • Last Modified: Feb 18, 2012
  • Article: TA37189
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