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To run the default web browser or terminal there are commands like x-www-browser and x-terminal-emulator. There are other alternatives for common programs.

Is there a similar command to run the default email client?

As an alternative, is there a way to execute the mailto protocol handler?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can open the default email client, but with a new message window open with this commands:



xdg-open mailto://

Both support some options to compose the new message or a standard mailto url. xdg-email also supports attachments, cc and bcc fields.

gnome-open mailto://

Will also work, but it's only supported under gnome.

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So there is no way to open just the client and not a new message window as well? – Mat Feb 6 '12 at 17:54
Not that I know. You can check the xdg-email source, it's a bash script. It basically finds the .desktop file associated with "x-scheme-handler/mailto", and from it extracts the binary. – Javier Rivera Feb 6 '12 at 18:38
Not looking likely unless I rewrite it. It also seems the solution differs depending on the distro... But I haven't looked in too much detail as it can't do what I want. Opening with the message window is sufficient (though not ideal) so unless there is a miracle solution this would seem to be the answer. – Mat Feb 6 '12 at 19:05
xdg-open is a standard, and at least it works in Ubuntu, Arch and Fedora. I believe that it will likely work in most distributions. – Javier Rivera Feb 7 '12 at 7:46
In any event, xdg-email is the best way to go. Thanks for the answer. – Mat Feb 7 '12 at 15:56

I took the relevant function from xdg-email, added some explanatory comments, and made some tweaks. The result does what OP needed--simply launches default email client. Four years too late, perhaps, but better late than never.

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