In Thunderbird settings I can tell it to use a specific program to open all pdf documents. I want to use the document viewer utility (evince) but I don't know how to indicate that to Thunderbird. If I try to browse (from within Thunderbird) to /usr/bin, which is where the most of the programs seem to be, "permission denied". If I scan through /user/bin using Nautilus, I can't find any program named 'evince' or 'document viewer' anyway. So where is evince and how do I tell Thunderbird to use it?

  • 1
    Why not have evince default to open all PDF docs?
    – K7AAY
    Mar 4 '20 at 19:16
  • You're using snap version of thunderbird, which is sandboxed. You could use workarounds I've included in my answer.
    – Gryu
    Mar 6 '20 at 20:27


  • The simplest solution is to install thunderbird from official ubuntu repositories: sudo apt install thunderbird. Because of Thunderbird installed through snap could not see a list of installed apps.
  • The second option is to install evince using snap: sudo snap install evince. It will be available for opening pdf documents in thunderbird, installed through snap.

Make evince your default document viewer by right mouse button clicking on some.pdf file and set Document Viewer in Open With tab as your Default Application for this type of files:

default app for pdf docs

In case of opening pdf files in Thunderbird it will be displayed as a default app for this type of files:

default pdf app

Make sure Evince is installed:

$ whereis evince
evince: /usr/bin/evince /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/evince /usr/lib/evince /usr/share/evince 

Also, make sure, its .desktop files are present in /usr/share/applications:

$ ls -ailh /usr/share/applications/*Evin*
1707752 -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1,3K жов  8 02:28 /usr/share/applications/org.gnome.Evince.desktop
1707751 -rw-r--r-- 1 root root  401 жов  8 02:28 /usr/share/applications/org.gnome.Evince-previewer.desktop

So it could be visible in the main menu and from Open With properties tab.

If you want to access a binary without going to /usr/bin where you do not have access from your user workspace, then create a symlink to it in your /home/user/bin/ folder:

mkdir ~/bin && ln -s /usr/bin/evince-previewer /home/user/bin/

Also, check permissions by:

ls -ailh /usr/ | grep bin
1441794 drwxr-xr-x   2 root root  72K бер  6 16:34 bin

You should have execution access marked as x in that output for others.

  • Evince was already the default if I right-clicked a pdf. However, the response to ls -ailh /usr/share/applications/org.gnome.Evin* is :No such file or directory. There are other org.gnome files for other apps but not evince. Evince was installed with ubuntu, basic installation from disc. How can this be corrected?
    – SharonK
    Mar 6 '20 at 17:45
  • In /usr/share/applications, evince.desktop and evince-preview.desktop are there but not org.gnome.evince.desktop, etc.
    – SharonK
    Mar 6 '20 at 17:49
  • The dir already exists and I have the execute permissions.
    – SharonK
    Mar 6 '20 at 18:20
  • Thunderbird doesn't see any default app to open a PDF and it doesn't see any apps in Browse except those directly related to Thunderbird itself. For instance I have LibreOffice which could open a pdf in writer but that isn't seen by Thunderbird. Thunderbird is the only app I'm using that doesn't see other document apps. I probably couldn't open a spreadsheet from Thunderbird because it wouldn't see LibreOffice calc. Could this be something in the Thunderbird profile?
    – SharonK
    Mar 6 '20 at 18:30
  • The symlink already existed. mkdir: cannot create directory ‘/home/sharon/bin’: File exists
    – SharonK
    Mar 6 '20 at 18:34

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