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Revision as of 10:33, 10 January 2012 by Kynikos (talk | contribs) (we have an article on Environment Variables)
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xdg-open is a desktop-independent tool for configuring the default applications of a user. Many applications invoke the Template:Codeline command internally.

Inside a desktop environment (e.g. GNOME, KDE, Xfce, etc.), xdg-open simply passes the arguments to that desktop environment's file-opener application (gnome-open, kde-open, or exo-open, respectively), which means that the associations are left up to the desktop environment. When no desktop environment is detected (for example when one runs a standalone window manager, e.g. Openbox), xdg-open will use its own configuration files.


xdg-open is part of the xdg-utils package available in extra:

pacman -S xdg-utils

xdg-open is for use inside a desktop session only. It is not recommended to use xdg-open as root.


The config file

xdg-open use configuration files located at ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list(for a single user) and /usr/share/applications/defaults.list (system wide). Its format is as follows:

[Default Applications]

For example,

[Default Applications]

The best way to look up the MIME type is to read the MimeTypes list in your application's .desktop file.

Some tools are available to edit the configuration files:


To make Thunar the default file-browser, i.e. the default application for opening folders.

xdg-mime default Thunar.desktop inode/directory

to use xpdf as the default PDF viewer:

$ xdg-mime default xpdf.desktop application/pdf

This should create an entry in your local MIME database:

[Default Applications]

Your PDF files should be opened with xpdf now.


mimetype in perl-file-mimeinfo package is more intuitive.

To select default application for a given extension (you need a sample file):

$ mimetype -d file.extension


mimeoAUR and xdg-utils-mimeoAUR in AUR provide xdg-utils and contains a xdg-open script patched to make use of mimeo the same way gnome-open would be used. Mimetype<->application associations can then be customised easily in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/mimeo.conf or ~/.config/mimeo.conf

Environment Variables



This variable set default application for URLs. For example, when using Openbox without a desktop environment, do the following:

export BROWSER=chromium

will make xdg-open use chromium for any kind of URLs


When this variable is set, xdg-open will use the more user-friendly file-opener application that desktop environment provides. Some packages need to be installed to use this feature. For GNOME, that would be libgnome. For Xfce, 'exo'.

The $DE environment variable needs to be exported before starting the window manager. For example:

export DE="xfce"
exec ck-launch-session openbox

This will make xdg-open use the more user-friendly exo-open, because it assumes it is inside Xfce. Use exo-preferred-applications for configuring.


For LXDE desktop enviroment users modify ~/.profile


Then xdg-open will use pcmanfm file associations.

See also