I'm using ubuntu 14.04. I want to set acrobat reader as a default app for PDF files. Right clicking and going "open with" does not get me anywhere because app is not listed. not even under "other applications. Same thing with going through properties and selecting "open with".

I also tried doing it this way: going to /etc/gnome/defaults.list and change the line:




This just gave me an error and would not open PDF file at all. Please help.
I'm new to Linux and I'm not computer savvy.

8 Answers 8


Right click on the pdf file, then select Properties. In the Properties window, select the Open With tab. Find Acrobat Reader in the list of applications and select it, then press the button that says Set as Default. That should do it!

Here's an example of what that window looks like (it was taken from this How-to-Geek article):

enter image description here


This is what worked for me:

  • Open the file with

    sudo -H gedit /usr/share/applications/AdobeReader.desktop

  • Edit the Exec=acroread line to be Exec=acroread %f

  • Save the file as


And Voila! Now you can see the Acrobat reader option when you right-click on the file. It'll also show in the properties > OpenWith tab.

  • 1
    no need to save as to other directory on Ubuntu 14. Just add %f as mentioned and save it. Then right click on PDF file > Properties > Open with, then Adobe reader is visible now. Thanks Luis.
    – Hesam
    Apr 21, 2016 at 20:19
  • 5
    Actually, it should be %U rather than %f. The reason being that %f will only open a single file, while acroread is capable of opening several files at the same time, or indeed several URLs at the same time.
    – Gsxr1k
    Jun 25, 2016 at 17:31
  • @Hesam Your way requires root privileges Luis's way doesn't.
    – UTF-8
    Jan 24, 2017 at 23:32
  • File doesn't exsist May 14, 2020 at 15:30

I am on Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS and had a similar problem with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC installed by snap. I tried to use @Luis's solution, so I tried to edit /snap/acrordrdc/6/meta/gui/acrordrdc.desktop but it was readonly and there was no success.

Eventually, I figured out that snap files cannot be edited manually because of security concerns described here. Fortunately the file /var/lib/snapd/desktop/applications/acrordrdc_acrordrdc.desktop is editable by root or sudoers. I edited the line starting with Exec= as follows:

Exec=env BAMF_DESKTOP_FILE_HINT=/var/lib/snapd/desktop/applications/acrordrdc_acrordrdc.desktop /snap/bin/acrordrdc %f

I just added %f at the end of line and then Adobe Acrobat Reader DC was appeared in the "Open With" dialog.

enter image description here


The default applications' list is saved in


You need sudo privileges to edit this file. So open it as:

gksudo gedit /etc/gnome/defaults.list

and then locate the line containing the following:


where ... represents the current default application. Replace it as:


and then save the file. Now you have acrobat reader as your default viewer!

  • this way you are changing the defaults system-wide which is not necessarily desired
    – rosch
    Jan 24, 2017 at 23:28
  • Wasn't that the question though if I correctly understand?
    – Peaceful
    Jan 25, 2017 at 4:12
  • Does not work for me. Do I have to restart something?
    – Alex
    May 2, 2019 at 9:00
  • @Alex : What exactly happens?
    – Peaceful
    May 6, 2019 at 10:25
  • Its fine, I figured it out. I needed to create a AdobeReader.desktop by hand, or similar.
    – Alex
    May 6, 2019 at 11:13

It can happen that file is missing. In that case, add the following content to the file ~/.local/share/applications/acroread.desktop :

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Adobe Reader 9
Exec=/opt/adobe/Adobe/Reader9/bin/acroread %U
GenericName=PDF Viewer
Caption=PDF Viewer

Now you should be able to right-click any PDF file and choose Adobe Reader 9 as your default PDF reader.

If for some reason Adobe Reader is still not to be found in the list, run the following command to set it as default reader:

for type in pdf x-pdf fdf xdp xfdf pdx ; do
    xdg-mime default acroread.desktop application/$type

This will modify the file ~/.config/mimeapps.list accordingly, at least on Ubuntu 16.04 that is.

Now hit F5 to refresh Nautilus and your PDF files will finally open with Adobe Reader.


Install tha application ubuntu-tweak by opening a terminal and typing the following command: sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

After successful installation of ubuntu-tweak, open the application and choose admin panel, where you have to choose the option named "File Type Manager".

Now choose "Application". Here you can see that PDF document is associated to evince(Document viewer). Highlight this and choose edit.

Here if your application is not listed, choose add then choose "use a custom command". Here choose browse and locate your app exe and add. Then chose it in "Edit Type" menu.

You are done.

  • Why sudo su -? To have a dangerous root shell around? The second command is more than sufficient...
    – Rmano
    Oct 23, 2014 at 8:13
  • Unable to locate ackage ubuntu-tweak
    – Alex
    May 2, 2019 at 9:06

Navigate to a PDF file with "Files", right click on the file and choose "Properties", choose the "Open With" tab in the dialog, choose your application, click on "Set as Default".

enter image description here


If you use acrordrdc from snap - Adobe Acrobat Reader DC - you shuld use


instead of


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