I use gVim all the time and open all sorts of plain text files, source codes and virtually anything that is readable with gVim.

Ubuntu however decides that I should use gedit!

I got searching and I found this that correctly makes ubuntu open my plain text files with gVim, but no luck with source files. I set both

sudo update-alternatives --config editor
sudo update-alternatives --config gnome-text-editor

to gVim, but still it uses gedit for source files.

Not to mention most of what you find on the internet say "right click->Open with->Always use this application" to set the default app for each of your file types. I'm fine with that, but in the new ubuntu (11.10) that option is simply not there anymore. but it could get rather cumbersome.

I went for uninstalling gedit, but it told me if I do, future updates will not include new items in The Ubuntu Desktop System set.

My question is, how can I tell ubuntu to change the default application of all those things that open with gedit to gVim?

If no such thing is possible (which would be the stupidest thing ever), would I really miss much if I uninstall gedit and forget about those mentioned new items?

  • Have a look here to solve the application missing on the open with another program tab. Oct 28, 2011 at 15:15
  • @brunopereira81, I had seen that, but that is not what I'm asking. I do see gVim in the Open with options. My problem is I can't set it as default application.
    – Shahbaz
    Oct 28, 2011 at 15:20
  • sorry miss understood it. Oct 28, 2011 at 15:46

3 Answers 3


On 11.10 defaults.list is under /etc/gnome/defaults.list

  • Open defaults.list using any text editor.
  • Replace text/plain=gedit.desktop with text/plain=gvim.desktop
  • Save and close.

Right click on any text file and you will see like this:-

enter image description here

It works for me :)

  • 3
    Great fix! A %s/gedit/gvim/g (replace gedit with gvim) did all that I wanted to do all at once! Thanks
    – Shahbaz
    Oct 28, 2011 at 15:43
  • It would be interesting to see how your menu and dialog looks like, Shabbaz. Oct 29, 2011 at 7:28
  • @Jo-ErlendSchinstad, pretty normal, what do you mean? It's just the editor I changed (Well, I lied, I removed the mail indicator (I would have removed that change user indicator too, but that is connected to the restart/shutdown button (!!!)), I also removed autohide of the sidebar, but it all still "looks" pretty normal)
    – Shahbaz
    Nov 3, 2011 at 17:49
  • 1
    To make the change user specific and not system-wide, add text/plain=gvim.desktop to the [Default Applications] section in .local/share/applications/mimeapps.list.
    – Lucas
    Sep 10, 2014 at 16:06
  • On 18.04 seems on /usr/share/applications/. Jan 9, 2019 at 5:21

Not to mention most of what you find on the internet says right click->Open width->Always >use this application to set the default app for each of your file types. I'm fine with >that, but in the new ubuntu (11.10) that option is simply not there anymore.

I had this same problem with getting LibreOffice to recognize .xlsx files. Right-click on the file you want to open, click properties, and go to the 'Open With' tab. There, you can select an application and there should be an option in the bottom right to 'Set as default'

Hope it helps!

  • Like I said, in the new ubuntu, it's not there. That "Set as default" button is just not there!!
    – Shahbaz
    Oct 28, 2011 at 15:17
  • It's - right click > PROPERTIES > open with..
    – doug
    Oct 28, 2011 at 15:35
  • @Shahbaz How about my answer? have you tried?
    – Achu
    Oct 28, 2011 at 15:41
  • Ah, I didn't read carefully. Yes I see it now, but the accepted answer proved to be much better. Thanks for telling me though :)
    – Shahbaz
    Oct 28, 2011 at 15:45

The option to choose what program to open an application with, is there, as can be seen in this screenshot.

enter image description here

Or, you can open the Properties dialog (the one called Egenskaper in my screenshot) and choose Open With:

enter image description here

Then you can choose to show other applications:

enter image description here

When you add another application, then it will appear in the list to open with, as shown in the first screenshot, and you can choose to open with that application by default.


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