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Gnome Desktop Tip: Quickly Open Any File / URL / Write Email

There are three ways to open any file under Gnome Linux / UNIX Desktop. gnome-open is the quickest and easiest way to open any file or url. Let us see how to open a pdf file quickly.

Open a File Using Application itself (time consuming)

Click on Application > Select App > File > Open > Select File

Open a File Using Run Application Dialog box

The Run Application dialog gives you access to the command line.
Hit Alt+F2 > Type file name > Enter

Fig.01: Run File / Command Dialog box

Please note that when you run a command in the Run Application dialog, you cannot receive output from the command.

Open a File Using The Command Line

gnome-open will open file using your preferred application. To open a pdf file, enter:
gnome-open file.pdf

Other common usage

Write email:
gnome-open 'mailto:user@example.com'
Open example.com website:
gnome-open example.com
Play mp3s:
gnome-open *.mp3
Open file browser in current directory:
gnome-open .
gnome-open /share/docs/

Put the following alias to speed up operation:
echo 'alias o="gnome-open $@"' >>~/.bashrc
$ o /path/to/file.pdf
$ o theos.in

How do configure preferred application?

Use the Preferred Applications preference tool to specify the applications that
you want the GNOME Desktop to use when the GNOME Desktop starts an application
for you.

Simply click on System > Preferences > Preferred Application

Fig.02: Preferred Applications

Fig.02: Preferred Applications

You can customize the preferences for the Preferred Applications preference tool in the following functional areas.

  1. Web Browser
  2. Mail Reader
  3. Terminal
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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • George August 22, 2008, 1:38 pm

    Am looking for a linux based cyber cafe timer software that runs on linux and works almost like cyber cafe pro timer software for windows xp.

    And also if it is possible to use cyber cafe pro 5. on linux using wine software?

  • Limesh Parekh August 23, 2008, 1:50 am

    I have susbscribed to your RSS, and I find all the articles extremely useful for our support team.

    thanks, great work buddy.

    Keep it up.

    Limesh Parekh

  • Jacky H.Chan August 25, 2008, 2:53 am

    I think who have tried gnome-open will love to gnome-do as well.


    I personally find gnome-do can rubost the working performance in Linux desktop as well as gnome-open.

  • David Ernwine August 25, 2008, 2:52 pm



    Found this… Any help?

  • Beli March 17, 2011, 2:18 pm

    This is what I was looking for, thanks!

  • Markor July 4, 2012, 12:58 am

    great, wanted this method, too :-)

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