In Nautilus, when you double click a file, it will open it with the default application associated with the file's extension. For instance, .html files will open in a web browser and .pdf will be opened with Document Viewer. Is there a way to reproduce the same behavior from within the command line (i.e. open path/filename)? I'm asking because I like to browse my file-system from the command line but sometimes don't remember which app. opens what.

  • There is a similar question regarding launching default browser from the command line: askubuntu.com/questions/8252/… – kounryusui Nov 29 '10 at 13:42
  • That's a brilliant question indeed! In almost 4 years of my bashing I hadn't thought about it :P – John Strood Jun 7 '16 at 9:40

I think xdg-open is the command you are looking for.

       xdg-open - opens a file or URL in the user's preferred application

       xdg-open {file | URL}

       xdg-open {--help | --manual | --version}

       xdg-open opens a file or URL in the user's preferred application. If a
       URL is provided the URL will be opened in the user's preferred web
       browser. If a file is provided the file will be opened in the preferred
       application for files of that type. xdg-open supports file, ftp, http
       and https URLs.

eg: xdg-open index.php

This will open index.php in gedit(if you are using gnome).

If you want to open a url in browser

xdg-open http://google.com

this will open google.com in your default browser.

xdg-open is a wrapper script - it will use the desktop environment's tool (gio open, gvfs-open, kde-open, gnome-open, dde-open, exo-open, and a host of other such tools). It is also installed by default, and very likely to work on past, current and future versions (on the other hand, gvfs-open and gnome-open have been deprecated, and may be unavailable in future releases).

  • 3
    wish I searched on google for this earlier – JohnMerlino Sep 25 '13 at 23:55
  • 2
    On Gnome: gnome-open and on KDE: kde-open works. – Farahmand Feb 21 '14 at 16:01
  • xde-open worked on xfce as well. – Seven Dec 13 '16 at 4:30
  • 4
    easy way to shorten this command is to use an alias. alias o='xdg-open'. Put this inside your .bash_aliases file to make the alias load on startup each time. nano ~/.bash_aliases and then paste inside nano using CTRL+SHIFT+V. – anon58192932 Sep 21 '17 at 15:44

xdg-open and gnome-open

xdg-open is the most universal way (work also on KDE)

  • 4
    This answer was posted earlier. – Kadir Jan 15 '15 at 11:44

If you want to:

  • make an alias for this command (e.g. open)
  • hide output from the command
  • continue using this terminal after

You can use this .bashrc function:

function open () {
  xdg-open "$@">/dev/null 2>&1

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