Linux: Set Default App

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Here's how to set default apps.

There are many ways to set default app, it depends on which linux desktop you are using. (e.g. Ubuntu, Lubuntu/LXDE, Xubuntu/Xfce.)

You may need to try a few of the following methods on your system.

Set Default App by GUI

Set Default Browser

in terminal, type exo-preferred-applications.

exo-preferred-applications → command to open a Graphical User Interface for setting default {browser, email, terminal, file manager}.

linux exo preffered apps browser
Set default browser by exo-preferred-applications

Set Default Terminal, File Manager

Click on the Utilities tab.

linux exo preffered apps terminal
Set default app by exo-preferred-applications

Set Default Image Viewer

You can right click on a file, select “Properties”, then choose the app you want.

linux file property menu
Right-click on file for the property menu.
linux file property dialog
property dialog.

(this is thunar file manager, as of .)

Lubuntu/LXDE Set Default App

lxde set default app 2017 02 21
lxsession-default-apps

in terminal, type

lxsession-default-apps

to launch the GUI app.

Set Default App Command Line

Edit this file ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list

Here's sample file content:

[Default Applications]
x-scheme-handler/http=firefox.desktop
x-scheme-handler/https=firefox.desktop
x-scheme-handler/ftp=firefox.desktop
x-scheme-handler/chrome=firefox.desktop
text/html=firefox.desktop
application/x-extension-htm=firefox.desktop
application/x-extension-html=firefox.desktop
application/x-extension-shtml=firefox.desktop
application/xhtml+xml=firefox.desktop
application/x-extension-xhtml=firefox.desktop
application/x-extension-xht=firefox.desktop
image/jpeg=gthumb.desktop
image/svg+xml=inkscape.desktop
video/mp4=vlc.desktop
video/quicktime=vlc.desktop
video/mpeg=vlc.desktop
image/png=gthumb.desktop
application/epub+zip=userapp-fbreader-K2ECYW.desktop
application/vnd.ms-htmlhelp=xchm.desktop
image/bmp=gpicview.desktop
image/gif=eog.desktop
image/jpg=gpicview.desktop
image/tiff=gpicview.desktop
image/x-bmp=gpicview.desktop

Here's the file on my machine (as of )

mimeapps.list

the global one is at /usr/share/applications/defaults.list

The “.desktop” files are at:

The “.desktop” files are a map between app icons to the command line.

For example, here's emacs one at /usr/share/applications/emacs24.desktop

[Desktop Entry]
Version=1.0
Name=GNU Emacs 24
GenericName=Text Editor
Comment=View and edit files
MimeType=text/english;text/plain;text/x-makefile;text/x-c++hdr;text/x-c++src;text/x-chdr;text/x-csrc;text/x-java;text/x-moc;text/x-pascal;text/x-tcl;text/x-tex;application/x-shellscript;text/x-c;text/x-c++;
Exec=/usr/bin/emacs24 %F
TryExec=emacs24
Icon=/usr/share/icons/hicolor/scalable/apps/emacs24.svg
Type=Application
Terminal=false
Categories=Utility;Development;TextEditor;
StartupWMClass=Emacs24

Set generic browser icon to your preferred browser

in terminal, run sudo update-alternatives --config x-www-browser

Here's sample session.

◆ xah@xah-p6813w◆ 2015-12-07 06:08 ◆ ~
◆ sudo update-alternatives --config x-www-browser
[sudo] password for xah:
There are 4 choices for the alternative x-www-browser (providing /usr/bin/x-www-browser).

  Selection    Path                           Priority   Status
------------------------------------------------------------
* 0            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       auto mode
  1            /usr/bin/chromium-browser       40        manual mode
  2            /usr/bin/firefox                40        manual mode
  3            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       manual mode
  4            /usr/bin/opera                  120       manual mode

Press enter to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 2
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/firefox to provide /usr/bin/x-www-browser (x-www-browser) in manual mode.

Linux Desktop

  1. How to Switch to LXDE, Xfce
  2. LXDE Keyboard Shortcuts
  3. LXDE/Openbox, Change Keyboard Shortcuts
  4. LXDE Set Key Repeat Rate
  5. LXDE/OpenBox, Disable Mouse Scroll Wheel Hide Window
  6. Xfce Keyboard Shortcuts
  7. Xfce Good Themes
  8. xmonad Keybinding
  9. Why Tiling Window Manager Sucks
  10. Set Default App
  11. Shell Commands for GUI Apps
  12. Image Viewers
  13. Move File to Trash by Command

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