I've recently came back to Ubuntu from Kubuntu, but I really like Dolphin. Is there any way how to set it up as default file manager?

6 Answers 6


To view the current default for opening directories:

xdg-mime query default inode/directory

To set Dolphin as default:

xdg-mime default org.kde.dolphin.desktop inode/directory

To set Thunar as default:

xdg-mime default thunar.desktop inode/directory

Run either on the terminal as regular user. If you want to set the default to another file manager, install the file manager, and find the correct .desktop file by searching in /usr/applications/ on the command-line.

Related files:

  • /usr/share/applications/defaults.list system-wide defaults
  • $HOME/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list
  • $HOME/.config/mimeapps.list where xdg-mime saves configuration


  • this actually works if you are using synapse. The solution should be a combination of all the above answers.
    – Avinash R
    Feb 25, 2014 at 12:16
  • 1
    Thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for. Also, if you want to set PCManFM, the file name is all lowercase, pcmanfm.desktop. Dec 15, 2016 at 6:28
  • Is this still valid for 16.04? Didnt seem to work for me.
    – M. Becerra
    Feb 2, 2017 at 19:45
  • This works for me with Ubuntu 16.04 and seems to be the easier solution. Jun 14, 2018 at 10:23
  • Perfect. It is a better solution than the selected as answer because you dont have to install any other program Sep 17, 2018 at 14:38


  1. Open a terminal, e.g. using Ctrl+Alt+T

  2. Install exo-utils by running the following command in the terminal:

    sudo apt-get install exo-utils
  3. Run the following command in the terminal:

  4. In the window that opens, click on Utilities

  5. On the File Manager section, click the drop-down menu arrow + Other...

  6. Find /usr/share/applications directory

  7. Adjust to show all files and select dolphin.desktop (wherever you find it)

  8. Click close

  • 5
    I couldnt get this to work in Ubuntu 15.04.
    – Ubuntuser
    May 16, 2015 at 6:20
  • 3
    Didn't work for me either on Ubuntu 14.04.
    – Fiksdal
    Mar 30, 2016 at 9:36
  • 2
    Is this still valid for 16.04? Didnt seem to work for me.
    – M. Becerra
    Feb 2, 2017 at 19:45
  • 8
    Not working: exo-preferred-applications /usr/bin/exo-preferred-applications: 11: exec: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/xfce4/exo-1/exo-helper-1: not found
    – tribbloid
    Aug 30, 2017 at 18:28
  • 4
    No way to get this to work on Ubuntu 18.04 either.
    – Raveren
    May 2, 2018 at 6:02

Adding to Rucent88 answer:

For me the dolphin desktop file was stored in /usr/share/applications/org.kde.dolphin.desktop. So

xdg-mime default org.kde.dolphin.desktop inode/directory

did the trick.

Keep in mind to have a look where the desktop link is located. Have a look at the file list of your installed file manager to see how the desktop link is called if you can't find it.

  • 2
    If this is an addition, perhaps you should suggest an edit to it.
    – muru
    Apr 17, 2017 at 8:26

also it works only with:

xdg-mime default dolphin.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search

From: http://www.fandigital.com/2013/01/set-nemo-default-file-manager-ubuntu.html

  • The link seems to be broken.
    – Flimm
    Aug 1, 2020 at 13:56
  • Hi Flimm the link is down Aug 8, 2020 at 14:00

In My, Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS below solution worked. Not sure, is there are any consequences for this approach.

In file /usr/share/applications/defaults.list modified entry inode/directory=org.gnome.Nautilus.desktop to inode/directory=org.kde.dolphin.desktop


As exo-preffered-applicatiosn from exo-utils have been depreciated and moved to xfce4-settings. Use the following steps:

  1. Open the terminal Ctrl+Alt+T.
  2. Install xcfe4-settings sudo apt install xfce4-settings
  3. Type xfce4-mime-settingsin terminal.
  4. A window will appear, click on Utilities in it.
  5. Go to File Manager section and click on others
  6. Open /usr/share/applications directory and set from exectuable files to all files.
  7. Select for org.kde.dolphin.desktop and open it.
  8. Close

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