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I want to have keyboard shortcuts for opening firefox, nautilus, etc. The problem is that this will always open a new window, instead of using the existing one when there is one. So what can I do about that? Seems like this is not handled by each program so it's not in 'firefox -h'.

Any ideas?

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Does this really open a new instance or just a new window in the instance? IIRC you can set Firefox to open everything in a new tab instead. –  slhck May 18 '13 at 14:28

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The man page for Firefox says there is a command line option called -remote <command> that looks like it does what you want. The man page in turn points to http://www-archive.mozilla.org/unix/remote.html for more information about available commands.

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