I would like to add miro to the default application GUI in system settings/default applications. I added ;miro.desktopnext to all rhythmbox.desktop entries eventually discovering if it was not added to audio/x-vorbis+ogg=rhythmbox.desktop as audio/x-vorbis+ogg=rhythmbox.desktop;miro.desktop it would not appear in the system settings/default applications drop down list for audio.

I can find default.list in either

  • /etc/gnome/defaults.list or
  • /usr/share/applications/defaults.list

Modifying either gives me the same results.

Further reading and i found that GNOME splits the settings for default application in system-wide and user specific settings.

  • System wide application assignments can be found in /etc/gnome/defaults.list.
  • User specific in ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list.

So i understand that if i right click/open with/set as default it will make changes to my ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list and will be associated with that user. I suppose i could even create a defaults.list in ~/.local/share/applications/ but since both changes made in /usr/share/applications/defaults.list and /etc/gnome/defaults.list are system wide i'm not sure which is the correct way. What is the difference between the two and which is the correct list to modify?

2 Answers 2


First thing:


is a symbolic link to


Second thing:

"*.desktop" files contains in it the mime-types that the program supports. So if "miro" application can handle "audio/x-vorbis+ogg" mime-type files, "miro.desktop" should contain this mime-type in it. Then "miro" application will appear as a candidate to run this mime-type files.

Third thing:

If there are more than one application supporting the same mime-type, you can decide which one will be used by default just including it at "/usr/share/applications/defaults.list", so in this case just replace:




It CANNOT be two "defaults" applications.

  • Hi,thank you for your reply,my apologies for such a delayed response. i was going to finally close this and mark as correct however although now knowing the 2 default.list are sym links im still unclear as to which .list to edit. What i know is any modifications to the linked file will be changed on the original file.If i delete a sym link the original file is unchanged and still exists.If i delete the original the link will remain but will point to a file that does not exist .
    – damien
    Jul 4, 2013 at 0:42
  • This is called an orphaned or dangling link. So since modifications to either will change both the correct procedure would be to leave the original intact and edit the link?
    – damien
    Jul 4, 2013 at 0:43
  • 1
    On 18.04 defaults.list on /etc/gnome/, /usr/local/share/applications/, /usr/share/applications/ and ~/.local/share/applications/ are four different files, probably being the one on /usr/share/applications/ (by looking the timestamp) the one updated. Jan 9, 2019 at 5:20

If you want to have your changes show up in System Settings, then you will have to edit /etc/gnome/defaults.list.

gksudo gedit /etc/gnome/defaults.list 

If you press Ctrl+H, it will bring up a dialog for search and replace. In Search for, enter:- rhythmbox. In Replace with, enter:- miro.

And either log-out or reboot and you will have replaced all instances of Rhythmbox with Miro. You can of course do this manually if you want to keep some of Rhythmbox's defaults.

Also anything you do in .local/share/applications/mimeapps.list will only be for that user.

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