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January 29, 2018

Adding mailto links in Moodle

As a course convenor, it's good practice to include your contact details in the opening section of your Moodle module, including your email address. To make things easier for your students to contact you, you can also create a clickable link (called a 'mailto' link) that instantly fires up an email to the convenor in the student's preferred email client.

This is a really simple tip that adds a nice usability boost to your Moodle page, but it has to be done in quite a specific way.

Adding a mailto link

Most module pages already have a space set up where the convenor's details are displayed, similar to the example below, so we'll skip over setting this up and jump straight to adding the mailto link.

No mailto set

In this example, the course convenor's name is a link that directs students to their staff profile on the web. This is indicated visually by the colour blue. The email address is currently visible, and students can manually highlight+copy+paste it into an email client, but it's not been set up as a link.

To edit the content and add the link, we first need to 'Turn editing on' for the module (via the cog in the far top-right of the page). Next, click on the smaller cog icon which will have now appeared at the bottom of the section (as shown above). You will find this right at the bottom of your opening section, which may not necessarily be immediately below the contact details, so you might need to scroll down to find it.

On the next screen, highlight the email address in the summary section editor, and click the 'link' button on the top-row of the toolbar as indicated in red below. You may also wish to 'copy' your email address to the clipboard (Ctrl+C / Cmd+ C) before clicking the link icon.

Link button

In the pop-up box that appears, you will now need to type 'mailto:' followed by your email address (which you can paste with Ctrl+V / Cmd+V if you copied it in the previous step).

This means the text box should read something like mailto:j.bloggs@warwick.ac.uk. Note that the 'mailto:' part needs to be added exactly as shown below, i.e. all one word and with a colon, but no space, before the email address.

Add mailto link

Now hit the 'Create link' button to add the mailto link, and then at the bottom of the page hit the 'save changes' button.

Checking the link works

Back on your module page, you will find the email address has now been visually styled as a link, and if you hover over it most browsers will indicate the destination of the link in the bottom-left corner of the window, as can be seen below.

Hovering over mailto

Clicking on this link will now launch our email client of choice, open up a new email, and populate the 'to' field automatically with the email address. The default email client for many people (if they are running Microsoft Office) will be Outlook (as shown below) but it can be configured to anything the user wants.

Composing an email in Outlook

Common pitfalls

There are two major things to watch out for when contact details are concerned, and even if you think your email link has been added it's always worth checking for these:

Firstly, if the 'mailto:' text has not been added in front of the email address, the link will break. In the case of Warwick's Moodle, if we create the link as simply j.bloggs@warwick.ac.uk then Moodle will actually interpret this as a webpage link to https://moodle.warwick.ac.uk/course/j.bloggs@warwick.ac.uk. This will launch a new page with an error message!

Secondly, sometimes when a course convenor has changed on a module, the text of their email address may have been updated but the mailto link might not have been updated.

Take a close look at the example below. It looks like the link will send an email to Joe Bloggs, but hovering over the link reveals that the mailto link will cause the email to be sent to Jane Doe instead!

Wrong mailto link

If you have this issue, simply edit the section as discussed earlier, then change the link target, being sure to retain the 'mailto:' text in front of it.

Any questions?

I hope this post will help you with checking your module's contact details and ensuring your email links are working as intended.

If you have any queries or would like further support on your module page, please feel free to contact me.


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