6 Ways to Open a Ubuntu Application

Open your apps the most convenient way for you

In this guide, you will discover a number of different ways to open an application using Ubuntu. Some of them will be obvious and some of them less so.

Not all applications appear in the launcher, and not all of them appear in the "Dash." Even if they do appear in the Dash, you might find it easier to open them in other ways.

01
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Use the Ubuntu Launcher to Open Applications

Ubuntu launcher

The Ubuntu Launcher is on the left side of the screen and contains icons for the most commonly used applications.

  • You can open one of these applications simply by selecting it.
  • Right-clicking​ on an icon often provides other options such as opening a new browser window or opening a new spreadsheet.
02
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Search the Activities to Find an Application

Ubuntu activities search

If the application doesn't appear in the launcher the second quickest way to find an application is to use the GNOME Activities menu.

  1. Select Activities in the upper left corner of your screen.
  2. Your screen will darken to display the Activities Overview. Here, you'll see any applications that you have minimized, the other available workspaces, and a search.
  3. Type the name of the application you want into the search. GNOME will show you both the apps installed on your system and the ones available for download.

For a more advanced approach of finding a program, or if you can't find your application in the Activities search, check out our breakdown of how to use the 'which' command to find a program.

03
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Browse the Applications Menu to Find an Application

Ubuntu applications menu

If you just want to see which applications are on your computer or you know the type of application but not its name you can simply browse the GNOME applications menu.

  1. To browse, select the Show Applications icon on the launcher or press the Super Key + A.
  2. The GNOME applications menu will open up, displaying all the apps you have in your system in alphabetical order. At the bottom, you'll find the option to toggle between All applications and your Frequent ones.
  3. Select an app icon to launch it.
04
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Use the Run Command to Open an Application

Ubuntu run command

If you know the name of the application you can open it quite quickly in the following way:

  1. Press Alt+F2 to bring up the run command window.
  2. Enter the name of the application. If you enter the name of a correct application then an icon will appear.
  3. You can run the application either by clicking on the icon or by pressing Return on the keyboard.
05
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Use the Terminal to Run an Application

Ubuntu run app from command line

 You can open an application by using the Linux terminal.

To open a terminal press Ctrl+Alt+T or follow this guide for more suggestions. If you know the program's name you can simply type it into the terminal window. For example:

firefox

Of course, some applications aren't graphical in nature. One example of this is apt-get, which is a command-line package manager. 

When you get used to using apt-get you won't want to use the graphical software manager anymore.

06
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Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Open Applications

Ubuntu create keyboard shortcut

You can set up keyboard shortcuts to open applications with Ubuntu.

  1. To do so, open the applications menu, and search for Settings.
  2. Open the Settings app.
  3. When the window opens, locate and press Devices in the left side menu.
  4. Now, the menu will change to show device related options. Choose Keyboard Shortcuts.
  5. The main body of the window will display a huge list of current keyboard shortcuts.
  6. Scroll to the very bottom of the list, and select the Plus Sign (+) icon.
  7. Another smaller window will pop up. Enter a Name for your shortcut. For the Command, you can usually use the name of the app. Sometimes, that's different. You can search for the path to it with which <appname>. For example: which firefox
  8. If you don't know the name of the command at all, you can try:
    ls -lah /usr/bin | grep -i <appname>
  9. Then, press Set Shortcut to input the key combination. Press the combination of keys that you want to assign the shortcut to on your keyboard. Then, press Add in the upper right of the window to create your shortcut

When the launcher has been created you can set the keyboard shortcut in the same way as the other launchers.