How to Set Default Apps in GNOME, KDE Plasma, and Cinnamon

Configuring what app you use by default is simple in Linux

When you click a link in a desktop email application, click an Email Us link in a website, or open a file in a file manager, the default app opens. Default apps are set by the operating system, but you can change which app opens for web links, email links, calendar links, music, and more. Here's how to set default apps in the GNOME, KDE Plasma, and Cinnamon Linux desktops.

The instructions in this article use Pop!_OS 18.10 for GNOME, KDE Neon for KDE Plasma, and Linux Mint 19.1 for Cinnamon.

GNOME

The GNOME desktop makes this task easy. With GNOME you can set the default applications for your web browser, email client, calendar, music player, video player, and photo viewer. There are two ways to get to this setting.

Use the Settings App to Set Default Apps

  1. Open the GNOME Dash, then type settings.

    Settings in GNOME.
  2. Select the Settings launcher to open the GNOME Settings tool.

    Settings launcher in GNOME.
  3. In the left pane, scroll down, then select Details.

    Details heading in GNOME settings.
  4. Select Default Applications.

    Default applications in GNOME settings.
  5. Select the Web drop-down arrow, then choose Google Chrome. Then, change the default applications for Email, Calendar, Music, Video, and Photos.

    Google Chrome in the Web options.
  6. Close the Settings tool.

Use the Default Applications Window to Set Default Apps

  1. Open the GNOME Dash, and type Default Applications. Select the entry when it appears.

    Default Applications in GNOME Dash.
  2. Select the Web drop-down arrow, then choose Chrome. Then, change the default applications for Email, Calendar, Music, Video, and Photos.

    Default applications menu.
  3. Close the Settings tool.

KDE Plasma

Setting the default apps for KDE Plasma isn’t quite as simple as it is in GNOME. Like GNOME, the configuration is taken care of with the Settings application and you can configure the default apps for email, the file manager, terminal emulator, and web browser.

  1. Select the desktop menu button in the lower-left corner of the screen.

    Desktop menu button in KDE Plasma.
  2. Select System Settings.

    System Settings in KDE Plasma.
  3. In the search bar (located in the upper-left corner), type default, then select Applications when it appears.

    Applications in System Settings in KDE Plasma.
  4. In the center pane, select Web Browser.

    Default Applications window.
  5. Select In the following application.

    Default Applications window.
  6. From the application drop-down menu, select Google Chrome.

    Default Applications window.
  7. Select Apply.

    Default Applications window.
  8. Change the default applications for Email Client, File Manager, and Terminal Emulator.

  9. Close the Settings tool.

Cinnamon

Setting the default applications on the Cinnamon desktop is done in similar fashion to KDE Plasma. The biggest difference (besides the number of applications for which you can set the default) is that in Cinnamon, the default applications are referred to as Preferred Applications. Here’s how to make the changes:

  1. Select the Cinnamon desktop menu located in the lower-left corner of the screen.

    Desktop menu button in Cinnamon.
  2. Type preferred in the search bar and, when it appears, select Preferred Applications.

    Preferred Applications option in Cinnamon search window.
  3. In the Web section, select Google Chrome from the drop-down menu.

    Preferred Applications in Linux Cinnamon.
  4. Set the default applications for File Manager, Mail, Music, Video, Photos, Terminal, Calculator, and other applications that you use.

  5. Close the Settings window.

A Simple but Effective Change

Setting the default applications in Linux is a simple change that makes the desktop more efficient and effective at helping you get work done.