I few months ago I did a fresh install of Ubuntu 15.10 on my laptop. I had backed up my previous home folder and restored it on top of my installation. I installed Google Chrome and set it as my default browser, but links would always open a new blank Chrome window, so I set Firefox as my default browser. Yesterday I was going to try setting Chrome back as my default, but the option does not show up.

![Details settings screen.]

Chrome's settings indicates it is already the default browser.

I have tried every method under the Internet's Sun to set Google Chrome as my default browser without success, starting with doing an uninstall purge of google-chrome-stable through apt, and then reinstalling from the latest deb.

Setting the BROWSER environmental variable.

$ tail ~/.bashrc
export PATH=$PATH:/home/david/Android/Sdk/tools
export VIRTUALENVWRAPPER_PYTHON=/usr/bin/python3
export WORKON_HOME=~/virtualenvs
export ANDROID_HOME=/home/david/Android/Sdk

export BROWSER=`which google-chrome`

Setting x-www-browser.

$ sudo update-alternatives --config x-www-browser
There are 3 choices for the alternative x-www-browser (providing /usr/bin/x-www-browser).

  Selection    Path                           Priority   Status
  0            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       auto mode
  1            /usr/bin/firefox                40        manual mode
* 2            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       manual mode
  3            /usr/bin/xlinks2                69        manual mode

Press <enter> to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 

Setting gnome-www-browser.

$ sudo update-alternatives --config gnome-www-browser 
There are 2 choices for the alternative gnome-www-browser (providing /usr/bin/gnome-www-browser).

  Selection    Path                           Priority   Status
  0            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       auto mode
  1            /usr/bin/firefox                40        manual mode
* 2            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       manual mode

Press <enter> to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 

Updating xdg-settings

$ xdg-settings set default-web-browser google-chrome.desktop

However, the Details settings window still shows Firefox, and all links from GUI applications open in Firefox.

Edit: I've notice that in the GTK application picker, such as when you right-click a file and choose "Open With -> Other Application…" that Chrome is not showing up in the list. The .desktop file is in /usr/share/applications and I tried executing sudo update-desktop-database, but it still doesn't show up. It does show up in the Unity dash.

If I look in /usr/share/applications/mimeinfo.cache then I see it is registered for text/html, x-scheme-handler/http, x-scheme-hanlder/https, as well as others.


I discovered the source of my problem. The global location for .desktop files is /usr/share/applications/ The user specific location is ~/.local/share/applications. For whatever reason, there was a google-chrome.desktop file in that directory that did not have the MIME meta data setup correctly. Since the local file overrides the global file, Google Chrome wasn't recognized as a web browser. Once I deleted that file I could set Google Chrome as my default web browser and now links open in it correctly.


I have this problem sometimes, and for me a good solution is to open Ubuntu Tweak and then go to Admins > File Type Manager. There look for the file type "HTML document" and then you can change the Associated Application to Chrome.

  • I tried that, but links still open in Firefox. – David Baucum Apr 14 '16 at 18:24

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