How to open a file in it's own application like start in Windows?

In Windows, at the command prompt, one could type start . and it would open a file browser for the current directory, or start notepad and it would open a new notepad Window.

How to do this in Ubuntu?

Note I am not referring to typing a specific program name like pinta drawing.png, but rather one-fits-all command instead, including one which can be used for file directories (that would be a good start)


2 Answers 2


xdg-open (ref man xdg-open) is one way of doing it, and this can be aliased to for example the keyword start (which is otherwise not commonly used on Ubuntu):

Add the following to ~/.bash_aliases;

alias start='xdg-open'

Logout/login from your current shell (or run the same manually), then try this;

start .

It will open current window in Nautilus file browser. God bless!

  • 1
    As xiota suggests, it might be both safer and easier to remember if the OP sets alias openx='xdg-open' or something similar Jun 7, 2019 at 17:23

To run a program, just type its name directly.


To open a document with the associated application, there are several options.

  • mimeopen – This is easy for me to remember and doesn't require typing dashes.

  • kde-open / kde-open5 – First use is slow.

  • xdg-open (as Roel mentions)

All of them open the default file manager when called to open a directory (including .). There are likely others for different desktop environments (gnome-open).

I wouldn't alias "start" with any of these because it could cause confusion with startx. It would also overload the term "start", which conventionally refers to starting services, not opening files.

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