If you click a link in the desktop email application, click link » Send us by e-mail» on a website or open a file in a file manager, the default application will open. The 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 up default apps on desktops GNOME, KDE Plasma and Cinnamon linux .

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


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

Use the Settings app to set default apps

  1. Open GNOME Dash then type settings .

    Settings in GNOME.
  2. Select panel launch » Settings to open the GNOME Settings tool.

    Launch settings in GNOME.
  3. In the left pane, scroll down and select Details .

    Details header in GNOME settings.
  4. Select Default apps .

    Default applications in GNOME settings.
  5. Select web -drop-down arrow, then select Google Chrome . Then change the default apps for Email , calendar , music , video and photos .

    Google Chrome in web settings.
  6. Close the Settings tool.

Use the default apps window to set default apps

  1. Open the GNOME toolbar and type » Default Applications. Select an entry when it appears.

    Default apps in GNOME Dash.
  2. Select web -drop-down arrow, then select Chrome . Then change the default apps for Email , calendar , music , video and photos .

    Default application menu.
  3. Close the Settings tool.

KDE Plasma

Setting default apps for KDE Plasma is not as easy as it is for GNOME. As with GNOME, setup is done through the Settings app, and you can set up the standard email, file manager, terminal emulator, and web browser apps.

  1. Click 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 Preferences in KDE Plasma.
  4. In the center panel, select Web browser .

    The default application window.
  5. Select In the next application .

    The default application window.
  6. From the application drop-down menu, select Google Chrome .

    The default application window.
  7. Select Apply .

    The default application window.
  8. Change the default apps for mail client , file manager and terminal emulator .

  9. Close the Settings tool.


Setting up default applications on the Cinnamon desktop is similar to KDE Plasma. The biggest difference (besides the number of apps you can set a default for) is that Cinnamon calls the default apps Preferred Apps. Here’s how to make changes:

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

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

  3. In chapter Web select Google Chrome from the dropdown menu.

    Preferred applications in Linux Cinnamon.
  4. Set default apps for file manager , mail , music , video , photos , terminal , calculator and other apps you use.

  5. Close the settings window.

A simple but effective change

Setting apps as default on Linux is a simple change that makes the desktop more efficient and helps you get work done.

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