Emacs: Open File in External App 🚀

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Here's a emacs command to open the current file or marked dired files in external app. (as if you double-clicked the file on desktop) It's useful for image files, PDF file, video, audio files.

Put this in your Emacs Init File:

(defun xah-open-in-external-app (&optional Fname)
  "Open the current file or dired marked files in external app.
When called in emacs lisp, if Fname is given, open that.

URL `http://xahlee.info/emacs/emacs/emacs_dired_open_file_in_ext_apps.html'
Version: 2019-11-04 2023-04-05 2023-06-26"
  (let (xfileList xdoIt)
    (setq xfileList
          (if Fname
              (list Fname)
            (if (eq major-mode 'dired-mode)
              (list buffer-file-name))))
    (setq xdoIt (if (<= (length xfileList) 10) t (y-or-n-p "Open more than 10 files? ")))
    (when xdoIt
       ((eq system-type 'windows-nt)
        (let ((xoutBuf (get-buffer-create "*xah open in external app*"))
              (xcmdlist (list "PowerShell" "-Command" "Invoke-Item" "-LiteralPath")))
           (lambda (x)
             (message "%s" x)
             (apply 'start-process (append (list "xah open in external app" xoutBuf) xcmdlist (list (format "'%s'" (if (string-match "'" x) (replace-match "`'" t t x) x))) nil)))
          ;; (switch-to-buffer-other-window xoutBuf)
        ;; old code. calling shell. also have a bug if filename contain apostrophe
        ;; (mapc (lambda (xfpath) (shell-command (concat "PowerShell -Command \"Invoke-Item -LiteralPath\" " "'" (shell-quote-argument (expand-file-name xfpath)) "'"))) xfileList)
       ((eq system-type 'darwin)
        (mapc (lambda (xfpath) (shell-command (concat "open " (shell-quote-argument xfpath)))) xfileList))
       ((eq system-type 'gnu/linux)
        (mapc (lambda (xfpath)
                (call-process shell-file-name nil 0 nil
                              (format "%s %s"
                                      (shell-quote-argument xfpath))))
       ((eq system-type 'berkeley-unix)
        (mapc (lambda (xfpath) (let ((process-connection-type nil)) (start-process "" nil "xdg-open" xfpath))) xfileList))))))

Emacs, Command to Open File in External Apps