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I want to be able to click links in Thunderbird emails and have them open in Chromium (package name chromium-browser). Instead, they open in Firefox.

I have tried the following:

  1. xfce preferred applications (Chromium is not listed, so I had to hunt down the executable) -- next time I run chromium, it complains that it is no longer the default browser.

  2. Telling Chromium to set itself as the default browser. Thunderbird opens links in Firefox.

  3. update-alternatives. It's already listed as an alternative at the same priority as Firefox. The "open web browser" app menu item opens Chromium. Thunderbird opens links in Firefox.

I have looked through the entire preferences gui in Thunderbird (but not the advanced config editor yet) and seen nothing that mentions what browser to open links in.

Please note that this is not Google Chrome.

share|improve this question
Check this answer. It enables prompt for a browser. – Robert Mutke Jun 16 '15 at 8:26
Hey @ikmac - Can you please changed the accepted answer? – nslntmnx Apr 12 at 6:09
up vote 73 down vote accepted

This is what I found working for me: You will need to access the "config editor" in Thunderbird itself.

Open Thunderbird. In 24.6.0, the menu can be accessed on the right hand side of the top menu bar (next to the search bar and is represented by three horizontal lines).

Click Edit > then click Preferences >, a new window will open. You will need to select the Advanced tab, at the bottom of that tab Open the Config Editor.

Then, search for both network.protocol-handler.warn-external.http and network.protocol-handler.warn-external.https.

These two are most likely to have a current value of false. Change the value to true (do this by simply right clicking on them) and the next time you try to open a link from some e-mail it'll ask you which browser to use. Chromium isn't likely to be shown in the list of choices, so use the navigate button. You can find Chromium at /usr/bin/chromium-browser.

If using google chrome as your browser of choice you may want to make it /usr/bin/google-chrome or /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable If Thunderbird doesn't ask you which browser to use when you click on a link after doing this, you can try deleting mimeTypes.rdf file in your profile folder to reset it.

Original text by Htbaa

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What I use: – jersten Jun 21 '13 at 20:40
Removing the mimeTypes.rdf files was necessary for this to work for me. I used locate mimeTypes.rdf to find all of them. – Mitch May 5 '14 at 14:30
This worked for me+1. Finally. System default setting is not properly taken into account as documented on for Kubuntu. – hakre Jan 13 '15 at 11:51
Confirmed to work as of Thunderbird 31.7.0. The handlers for https and http respectively can be set in Options -> Attachments -> Incoming (loo for the protocol name there). – 0xC0000022L Jun 12 '15 at 6:40

Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> General -> Config Editor...

Right click -> New -> String

Enter the preference name:



Setting Default Browser

In the command line, type

sudo update-alternatives --config x-www-browser && sudo update-alternatives --config gnome-www-browser

share|improve this answer
Helpful to use x-www-browser; however setting the above preference didn't make a difference for me - setting the warn value as recommended by Vitaly did – David Fraser May 13 '14 at 14:46
The handlers for https and http respectively can be set in Options -> Attachments -> Incoming (loo for the protocol name there). – 0xC0000022L Jun 12 '15 at 6:40
Strange, AKSiS's method doesn't work on my Windows 7 system(Thunderbird 24), and Vitaly's method works fine. – ollydbg23 Oct 14 '15 at 2:31
"" has been removed. I did this first step with "vi" instead (as recommended at and found the result in Invalidprefs.js. – Bruce Mar 18 at 21:25

In Thunderbird 11.0.1, it is simple, yet not intuitive:

  1. Go to Preferences (Menu EditPreferences).

  2. Click on the Attachments tab.

  3. In the Content Type and Action section set HTTPS, HTTP, and FTP to Use google-chrome (or other desired browser).

That worked for me after trying numerous things in terminal that did not work.

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Found this here and can confirm that it works. This was necessary for me after installing Firefox. Before it worked for me using the warn-external config approach. – zeratul021 Sep 1 '14 at 9:45
NIce, works for me too. – diosney Jul 4 at 18:19

Well, I have never used thunderbird but, this looks right -->

When you click on a web link in Thunderbird, it invokes the default web browser for the operating system. It is possible to change this behavior by changing the default browser. On Linux, another way (tried with TB1.5 under Suse and Debian) is to insert the following line in Thunderbird's prefs.js or user.js file (of course put in the correct path to your firefox):

user_pref("", "/usr/bin/firefox");

You can find where Chromium is by typing -->

which chromium

into the terminal.

Source -->

share|improve this answer
Option (1) in my original question worked -- I previously allowed Chromium to set itself as default, which makes exo-open think there's no default browser. If I point the system default at the Chromium executable, and tell Chromium to stfu, then Thunderbird happily opens it for urls in emails. Obviously Chromium and Ubuntu are thinking two different things about the concept of default browser. Thanks! – ikmac May 3 '12 at 6:32
PS -- this answer also worked, which is why I marked it correct. I just prefer not editing files that say DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE at the top if I can beat the problem into submission another way. – ikmac May 3 '12 at 6:35

This may help anyone stumbling across this later who has it stuck to Firefox

Go to settings control panel, System -> MIME Type Editor, and set each to 'Web Browser':

application/x-extension-html, application/x-extension-shtml, application/x-extension-xhtml, application/xhtml+xml, text/html

Then in settings control panel, Personal -> Preferred Applications, choose chrome

Run sudo update-alternatives --config x-www-browser and choose Chrome

Then launch /usr/bin/x-www-browser and it should start chrome

Then try in Thunderbird.

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No wonder my CPU usage went crazy when i was clicking on links in TB, those settings were sending it to Thunderbird making a inf loop – GM-Script-Writer-62850 Dec 5 '14 at 15:04

There is one other Thunderbird setting you need to check.

Preferences - Attachments - Incoming

The http and https settings there override the OS default and telling Chromium to make itself the default browser.

See this bug:

And this for the gory details about how the default browser is determined in Thunderbird:

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I tried this solution and it worked:

1) In Settings Manager switch your favourite browser as default browser.

2) update-alternatives --config x-www-browser

3) Follow steps written here

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None of these solutions worked for me. I ran thunderbird using strace, and discovered, that regardless of what value I chose for, it was always attempting to launch /usr/bin/google-chrome. I searched the preferences, and was unable to find any place where this was defined. In the end, I just did: ln -s chromium-browser /usr/bin/google-chrome , and that seemed to fix it.

share|improve this answer
hmm, a slimy hack to handle what seems to be a slimy hack in Thunderbird, lol. – ikmac Jun 6 '12 at 15:44
This will have quite the side effect! Use Vitaly's solution below. – dotancohen Jun 4 '13 at 12:07

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