I'm adding Facebook like, Tweet, Google +1, LinkedIn Share buttons to some webpages.

I'm also adding an email this link button as well.

Currently I'm doing it like so.. I have nice button made up, and am using this link:

<a href="mailto:?subject=Title to send&body=Hi%0D%0DI thought you may be interested in this link.%0D%0Dhttp://www.example.com/">
Email this

Someone has suggested that I instead bring up a box and give users option to send straight from that. I.e. I would have pre-decided on the message, and the user would enter their email address, and the recipients. The end message would come from our email, and say something like [email protected] shared this link with you.

I have two questions:

  • Is that a better of doing it?
  • How reliable is mailto? Will I have to do extensive testing?

Basically I would like some advice on best practices, and what you may have done in the past, thank you :-)

1 Answer 1


The advantage of bringing up a box is that it doesn't rely on the user having their email client configured properly on the machine they are using. So it works even if they're using someone else's machine, or a public machine at an internet cafe. With the increasing rise of webmail like Gmail that's always going to be the case. However you do need more work on your server to get it to work.

Another advantage is that you can have more control over what goes in the email. It would be courtesy though, and give more confidence, to show the user what the message is going to say before they send it.

Mailto has been around for ages and is well supported, so you don't need to do much testing. It's easier for you to implement.

  • The downside is that you have to be very carefull about what you accept. Quite often those 'recommend to a friend' scripts are abused by automated scripts to spam other users with advertising messages, and this could mean trouble for you. Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 2:39

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