This tutorial will explain how to open file from console with preferred application in Ubuntu, just like when double-click on a .mp3 file in nautilus, rhythmbox player launches and plays the music, also urls can be open with the default web browser from the terminal.

There’re following command tools do this work:

  • gnome-open opens a file with Gnome’s default application
  • kde-open opens a file with KDE’s default application
  • xdg-open opens a file with X’s default application


I’m running on Ubuntu’s default Unity desktop, so I uses xdg-open or gnome-open:

xdg-open path-to-file


gnome-open path-to-file

For example, following command launches Rhythmbox and plays ‘tatu – stars.mp3’:

xdg-open /media/windisk/KuGou/tatu\ -\ stars.mp3

and this command will launch google chrome(in my case) and navigate to


Change Preferred Application from terminal:

You can use xdg-mime to check and change default app launcher.

  • To check default app to read pdf:
    xdg-mime query default application/pdf

    it outputs something like this:

  • To replace it with evince:
    xdg-mime default evince.desktop application/pdf