Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When I download a file with firefox, it always asks me with what program I want to open it with, even when that type of file is recognized by the system, and I can double click on it in Nautilus and have it open properly.

This is an example with a deb file, which opens with Ubuntu Software center (as it should) when I double click on it in Nautilus.

enter image description here

I do not want to look for the required program in /usr/bin or whatever in the Firefox dialog, I want Firefox to recognize my system preferences. What I resort to doing now is choose "Download", open Nautilus and double click on the file...

Why can't Firefox recognize my system settings, and how do I get it to?


share|improve this question
Firefox has settings, to override the OS: Edit >> Preferences >> Applications. Do you want to adjust them to your needs, or just remove ALL? (I haven't tried this, so don't know consequences.) – david6 Nov 26 '11 at 0:09
It seems later Firefox versions might have improved this situation? Firefox 8 on my Xubuntu system here basically does what you're asking and I haven't done any special setup to it. – Caesium Dec 10 '11 at 4:16

Use /usr/bin/xdg-open (it's part of xdg-utils package) to open all the files.

share|improve this answer
How can we tell firefox to use this by default? – MiniGod Dec 9 '14 at 13:59
Check the other answer about preferences – int_ua Dec 10 '14 at 5:57
Which answer? I want firefox do this for all types of files and for "open the containing folder" too. – ReneSac Mar 15 '15 at 20:55

I can provide some perspective on why Firefox isn't more tightly integrated into Ubuntu. Applications like Firefox and OpenOffice/Libreoffice are designed to work on a wide variety of operating environments including various Linux distributions, Desktop environments, Windows OS, Apple OS and many others. All of those environments are moving targets. For example Gnome has gone to GTK 3.0 but not every application in the latest Ubuntu release has upgraded from GTK 2.0 and of course let's not forget Unity has entered the fray. To that end Firefox and their ilk loosely couple with operating environments so that development can focus on the core features of the application. Being all things to all people or for applications in this case all environments can be destructive to core goals. Clearly tight integration is conceivable and desirable from an individual user's perspective. It's a matter of priorities and complexity. The desirability of regular concurrent releases for all environments is also a factor.

share|improve this answer
Why not have a bridge API that can be maintained by the OS or other interested parties and that Firefox will call it it's installed? – Scott Severance Dec 10 '11 at 9:54
It is likely that they use an intermediary interface internally. I'm not however familiar with their internal design and can't say that it constitutes a formal API or if your suggestion fits into the overall design structure. – fragos Dec 29 '11 at 9:23

You should go to EditPreferencesApplications and decide what Firefox should do with every kind of files available. You can choose it to open with a certain application or to ask what to do.

That's the easiest, one click-way of doing it. Or you can use the dialog that appears (an that you have showed here), choose an application to open it and enable Do this automatically for files like this from now on. Next time you open one of these files it won't ask you again.

But I recommend the first solution.

share|improve this answer
This doesn't answer the question. The question was how to make Firefox follow the system settings. It seems that Firefox instead wants to have its own file associations. Granted, it's been that way since at least the days of Netscape 3 in the mid-90s, but it's an insane way of operating. The options should be: Open with the default program; Save; Ask – Scott Severance Dec 10 '11 at 4:17

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.