How to Change Default Applications in Ubuntu

Brief: This beginner’s guide shows you how to change the default applications in Ubuntu Linux.

Installing VLC media player is one of the first few things to do after installing Ubuntu 18.04/19.10 for me. One thing I do after installing VLC is to make it the default application so that I can open a video file with VLC when I double click it.

As a beginner, you may need to know how to change any default application in Ubuntu and this is what I am going to show you in this tutorial.

But before we do that, I recommend that you also read my guide on how to install/remove software in Ubuntu – in case you’re still confused about that.

Changing default applications in Ubuntu

How to change the default applications in Ubuntu

There are basically two ways you can change the default applications in Ubuntu:

  • via system settings (valid for changing the default web browser, email client, calendar, music application, video player and image viewer)
  • via right-click menu (valid for applications other than the above mentioned ones)

If you prefer videos, you can watch the video below:

1. Change default applications in Ubuntu from System Settings

Simply head to the System Settings:

System Settings Pop Os

In the System Settings, click on the Details option:

System Details Pop Os

Now, click on the “Default Applications” option as highlighted in the screenshot below:

Default Applications Pop Os

As you can see, there are only a few kinds of default applications that can be changed here. You can change the default applications for web browsers, email clients, calendar apps, music, videos and photo here. What about other kinds of applications?

Don’t worry. To change the default applications not listed here (for instance – text editor), we’ll use the option in the right-click menu.

2. Change default applications in Ubuntu from right-click menu

Let’s say you have a markdown file (.md) which opens in Gedit text editor by default. But you want to use some other applications to open markdown files. Here’s what you need to do.

Right click on the file and then select Open with Other Application:

Changing Default Application Ubuntu via right click menu
Right click on the file and then select Open with Other Application

If you don’t see your choice of application, click on the View All Applications:

Changing Default Application Ubuntu
Click on the View All Applications

Locate the desire application and select it:

Changing Default Application Ubuntu
Locate the desire application and select it

This will open the file in your chosen application.

The thing here is that the file manager automatically recognizes your choice and the next time you double click on the file to open it, it will open it with the application you last chose.

Default Application Changed in Ubuntu
Next time, it automatically use the last chosen application

Keep in mind that this behavior is not applicable to web browser, music player, video player, email client, calendar and photo viewer. For that you need to use the first method described here.

If you want to change the default terminal emulator, the steps are entirely different.

I hope you found this beginner’s tutorial to change default applications in Ubuntu helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to drop a comment below.

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