How can I change my default text editor from gedit to Emacs?
Here is what worked in my case:
- Right click on a text file.
- Choose "Properties" (not "Open With...")
- Click on the "Open With" tab.
- Choose your new text editor.
- Mark chosen text editor using a button "Set as default".
This also works on 12.04 and 13.04.
@ Edit: based on comments it does work on all distros until 20.04
To change default text editor across the file types, try updating gnome-text-editor configuration.
sudo update-alternatives --config gnome-text-editor
In some cases:
sudo update-alternatives --config editor
3How can someone add another option? In my case I get the following: There is only one alternative in link group gnome-text-editor (providing /usr/bin/gnome-text-editor): /usr/bin/gedit - EDIT: found how to do it:
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gnome-text-editor gnome-text-editor /path/to/executablesublime 100in my case
which subl.– TadejOct 21, 2021 at 10:58
1Thanks for this answer! Same here, I added
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gnome-text-editor gnome-text-editor $(which subl) 100. Then it was already selected as editor, as the above command then confirmed.– JanosJan 21, 2022 at 11:58
1This is the one you need to ensure your editor choice persists even when running programs using
wsl.exe <program>in WSL. (Specifically
sudo update-alternatives --config editor) Feb 19 at 23:10
A more robust solution would be to replace the bindings in
sed -i 's/gedit/emacs/' /usr/share/applications/defaults.list
I don't know how, but by copying this command I accidentally cleared the whole file. I would much prefer doing this in a text editor using find-replace (as explained in this answer) for those who are not too familiar with sed. Apr 5, 2013 at 22:37
I did this (in a text editor with find-replace, which should have the same result), then logged out and back in but still C++ header files (*.h) are opened in gedit. Dec 14, 2016 at 15:06
I don't use a DE, but for my configurations the next command is the best:
- it selects your default sensible-editor from all installed editors
- must run with current user
- you must have more than one editor in your system
2+1 Works in 18.04. Does not affect other users. Does not need sudo.– RouxApr 23, 2020 at 5:11
After setting EDITOR to vi, VISUAL to vi, linking /etc/alternatives/editor or whatever to vi, I still got the pest named
nanoas the editor when running commands like
virsh edit myvm. Applying a level of self-control I would never have guessed I could reach, I am not venting here. NOT VENTING AT ALL!!!! I renamed nano to nano.deleted, then I got several lines of error messages whenever I edited something.
select-editordidn't change that. What did help was
rm /usr/bin/sensible-editorfollowed by
ln -s /usr/bin/vi /usr/bin/sensible-editor. Life is good. May 27, 2021 at 6:39
Right click on a text file, point to "Open With" and it'll show other editors in a sub-menu. Click on "Other Application...". It'll show you a dialog with a list of applications, select Emacs and make sure the "Remember this application for "plain text document" file" option is checked. Click "Open".
1I did try this, but I'm having a bit of a problem - whenever I double-click on a file in Nautilus, I get a dialog box that says: "Do you want to run "tasks.css", or display its contents? "tasks.css" is an executable text file." And then there are four options - Run in Terminal, Display, Cancel, Run. (This happens with every file, not just CSS files.) Nov 16, 2010 at 12:05
5@begtognen: Sorry for the ultra-late reply. But I've been trying to find a solution for this myself. Just found one - go to Nautlius preferences (Edit > Preferences), select the "Behavior" tab and under the "Executable Text Files" section, select the radio button "View executable text files when they are opened". Fixed the issue for me.– MussnoonNov 22, 2010 at 23:28
I tried this also, but Emacs doesn't appear in the list of applications. Any thoughts?– MTSApr 1, 2014 at 19:44
No "Remember this application" there. When outdated you might want to either delete your answer, or clearly specify for what versions of Ubuntu it works. Thanks! :-) Nov 21, 2016 at 2:52
If you are working from the terminal then I would add the following to your .bashrc file (or the config file for your favorite shell):
export EDITOR=emacs export VISUAL=emacs
5+1 for this answer. Particularly if you're a user and don't have
sudoor don't want to modify anyone else's preferences Dec 13, 2019 at 15:01
Add these to
source ~/.bashrcto make this permanent.– PeacefulFeb 28 at 10:17
You can set the default text editor for a specific user in # ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list by:
[Default Applications] text/plain=gedit.desktop
For global configuration for all users you have to modify the /etc/gnome/defaults.list
sed -i 's/gedit/emacs/g' /etc/gnome/defaults.list
On Ubuntu 20, you need to change the
gnome-text-editor alternatives link from
gedit to the one you want. However, there usually is only one such editor detected so
update-alternatives --config won't work; you'll have to add the editor you want.
E.g. to add
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gnome-text-editor gnome-text-editor /usr/bin/notepadqq 50 sudo update-alternatives --config gnome-text-editor
For some reason I had to use
xdg-mime default org.gnome.gedit.desktop text/plain # For current user
you can use your system-wide .desktop files under
or local files under
~/.local/share/applications/ or create your own.
It's also helpful to know that user configurations are stored in
~/.config/mimeapps.list which overrides the defaults.
Probably your application is opening the archive with xdg-open. To see if it is the case open htop in terminal without closing the opened file and find your open file in the tree. Aug 26, 2021 at 8:33
@R.W.Prado I've changed my OS to debian since then, so I don't have access to that system anymore. But now I can easily change it with update-alternatives.– etzlAug 26, 2021 at 10:53
If you would like to replace gedit with any other text editor for all file types, the easiest is to edit the
defaults.list file located here:
Just find and replace all
gedit.desktop references with your own editor (in this case
You need root permissions to edit the file. So, just do:
sudo -H gedit /usr/share/applications/defaults.list
Save the file, close it and it's done.
To set Pluma as default text editor for all user (global):
sudo sed -i 's|text/plain=gedit.desktop|text/plain=pluma.desktop|g' /etc/gnome/defaults.list
export EDITOR=emacs- and perhaps add that to your
.bashrcso it becomes your default.