How To Use Xdg-Open Command In Linux.
Linux is renowned for its flexibility and powerful command-line tools, and the xdg-open command is no exception. xdg-open is a versatile utility that simplifies the process of opening files, URLs, and applications on a Linux system. In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of xdg-open, including its basic usage, practical examples, and advanced tips.
The xdg-open command is a part of the xdg-utils package and serves as a bridge between the command line and your desktop environment. Its primary purpose is to open files, URLs, and applications in a way that is consistent with the user’s preferred applications and settings.
Using xdg-open is straightforward. To open a file with its default associated application, simply run:
Here, “filename” represents the name of the file you want to open. xdg-open will identify the file type and launch the appropriate application.
To open a URL in your default web browser, use the same command with the URL as an argument:
Common Use Cases
a. Opening Documents
You can use xdg-open to quickly open documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. For instance, to open a PDF file named “document.pdf,” use the following command:
b. Browsing the Web
To open a URL, whether it’s a link from your terminal or a script, xdg-open is your go-to tool:
c. Launching Applications
xdg-open can also be used to launch applications. For example, to open your preferred text editor:
Handling Non-standard Applications
Sometimes, you may want to open a file with a specific application rather than the default one. You can achieve this by using the application’s executable as the argument:
Here, “/path/to/custom/application” is the path to the custom application you want to use, and “filename” is the file you want to open.
a. Opening Files in the Background
To open a file in the background without blocking your terminal, you can use the nohup command in combination with xdg-open:
b. Using xdg-mime
The xdg-mime utility allows you to query and set the default applications for specific file types. To see the default application for a file type:
To set a default application:
Handling Multiple Files
You can open multiple files at once using xdg-open by providing a list of filenames as arguments. For example:
xdg-open will open each file with its respective default application.
Customizing Default Applications
By default, xdg-open uses your system’s default applications for handling various file types. You can customize these default applications to match your preferences by using the xdg-mime command. For example, to set a specific text editor as the default for text files:
Replace “my_text_editor.desktop” with the appropriate .desktop file of the text editor you want to use.
Using xdg-open in Shell Scripts
You can leverage xdg-open within shell scripts to automate tasks that involve opening files or URLs. This is particularly useful for creating custom solutions or automating repetitive actions.
This simple shell script opens “example.pdf” with the default PDF viewer.
Dealing with MIME Types
To determine the MIME type of a file, you can use the file command. For instance, to check the MIME type of a file called “example.jpg,” you can run:
Knowing the MIME type can help you set default applications or troubleshoot issues with opening specific file types.
If you encounter issues with xdg-open, such as files not opening with the expected applications, you can troubleshoot by:
Verifying that the xdg-utils package is installed on your system. You can install it using your distribution’s package manager.
Checking the default applications for specific MIME types using the xdg-mime query default command and updating them as needed.
Reviewing the MIME type of the file using the file –mime-type command.
Making sure the file you are trying to open exists and is accessible.
Checking your system’s desktop environment settings for associations between file types and applications.
Using xdg-open with Environmental Variables
You can make use of environmental variables with xdg-open to open files or URLs. This is especially useful when working with dynamic paths. For example:
This approach allows you to use variables to specify file paths or URLs, making your scripts more flexible.
Customizing MIME Type Handling
If you want to fine-tune how specific MIME types are handled, you can edit the ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list file. This file allows you to define preferred applications for different MIME types, effectively customizing your application associations.
Default Application Prioritization
In cases where there are multiple applications associated with the same MIME type, you can set your preferred default application. To do this, you need to use xdg-mime to set the preferred order of applications for a specific MIME type. For example:
This sets “my_preferred_app.desktop” as the primary application for opening PDF files, and “another_app.desktop” as the secondary.
Opening URLs with Parameters
You can open URLs with parameters using xdg-open. For instance, if you have a URL with a search query, you can pass it as an argument:
Uncommon Use Cases
xdg-open can be useful for various unconventional tasks. For example, you can use it to open a folder in your file manager:
Alternatively, you can open a device, like a USB drive:
Handling Complex MIME Types
Some applications use more complex MIME types, like “application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document” for Microsoft Word documents. To open these files, you can still rely on xdg-open, which will find the appropriate application for you.
Graphical and Non-GUI Environments
xdg-open works both in graphical desktop environments like GNOME, KDE, and Xfce, as well as in text-based environments. It will automatically choose the appropriate terminal-based applications if you’re working in a non-graphical environment.
You can also use xdg-open to open archives, such as ZIP or TAR files. When you use xdg-open on an archive, it will typically extract its contents using the default archive manager.
The xdg-open command is an essential tool for Linux users, offering a user-friendly way to open files, URLs, and applications. By mastering the usage of xdg-open and its associated tools like xdg-mime, you can tailor your Linux environment to your preferences, automate tasks, and resolve issues related to file associations. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, xdg-open is a versatile utility that can enhance your productivity and streamline your daily Linux experience.