I find this command

sudo update-alternatives –config x-www-browser

I choose Chrome. It works for xpdf, but Evince still starts Firefox after click.

I feel Linux is not standard. I use Linux Mint 8 (Helena) LXDE.

  • this question is not well phrased , what do you mean that evince starts firefox ? Having seen this, now I am not so sure about my answer.
    – g24l
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 0:12
  • I think the question is about which browser starts if you click on a URL in a PDF document.
    – erik
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 9:51
  • For MATE users: askubuntu.com/a/533160/10425 Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 11:52

9 Answers 9


As far as I understand LXDE uses xdg to do calls to applications. This command should fix your issue:

To find out which application opens a pdf file :

xdg-mime query default application/pdf

To set the application to evince

xdg-mime default evince.desktop application/pdf

This should work if your application is registered to the desktop (i.e. if there is a launcher)

  • 6
    this should actually be xdg-mime default evince.desktop application/pdf
    – xubuntix
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 17:26
  • 2
    For me (Debian 10, unwanted default was libreoffice) this didn't work. Instead xdg-mime default org.gnome.Evince.desktop application/pdf did the trick.
    – phinz
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 11:56

Solving your issue is like voodoo, even when there are "protocols" regarding how and which applications are supposed to open a specific kind of file. You'll see that they're very inconsistent between systems and different desktop environments.

So there's no really a "right" answer. I had a similar problem with firefox, so I'm giving you my solution:

  1. Create a ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list if it doesn't exist
  2. Add the following

    [Default Applications]

    ...or just the last line if there's something before.


You can edit your $HOME/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list file. If this file does not exist, create one.

For illustration's sake, if you want Chromium to be the default browser, add the following line:


That's all.

  • Worked like a charm on Arch Linux. Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 2:35

I had a reverse problem - I want firefox to open the links, but evince started chromium no matter what.

I used strace -o /tmp/output evince to see what functions are called and found this in the log:

open("/home/koniu/.local/share/applications/firefox.desktop;", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/local/share/applications/firefox.desktop;", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop;", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/home/koniu/.local/share/applications/chromium.desktop", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/local/share/applications/chromium.desktop", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/applications/chromium.desktop", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = 16

No idea why there's a semicolon included in the firefox.desktop but I created /home/koniu/.local/share/applications/firefox.desktop with the following content:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=/usr/bin/firefox %U

And now evince starts firefox as desired.


To change Gnome applications you need to use gconftool:

$ gconftool -s /desktop/gnome/url-handlers/http/command -t string 'chromium-browser %s'

To check the changes:

$ gconftool -g /desktop/gnome/url-handlers/http/command

Other Gnome applications:




  • you keep telling the guy to setup gnome, but he is using LXDE...
    – g24l
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 0:00
  • 1
    @g24l: Evince is a GNOME program, though. (However, it doesn't use GConf for URL handlers anymore.) Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 0:17

None of these solutions worked for me.

I had to edit ~/.config/mimeapps.list and append these rules to the two headers:

[Default Applications]

[Added Associations]

Set the default browser in Gnome applications with gnome-default-applications-properties.

  • you almost killed my system! after apt-get gnome-control-center, the system is almost broken.
    – chenge
    Commented Jun 14, 2010 at 9:22
  • define "almost broken"
    – msw
    Commented Jun 14, 2010 at 11:10
  • 3
    The issue may be you are telling him to install gnome stuff when his window manager is probably LXDE.
    – Jarvin
    Commented Jun 14, 2010 at 17:40
  • i report it: forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=50017 it write file .xsession-errors with "fcitx signal 11", and eat the hd space.
    – chenge
    Commented Jun 15, 2010 at 10:40
  • 4
    @Dan keep in mind that evince is "gnome stuff", and has gnome dependencies; that said, I don't know what the right answer here is. (Also, LXDE is a desktop environment, not a window manager, not that matters here.)
    – frabjous
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 2:31

I had this problem, using evince under KDE. I had to log out from KDE, login to GNOME, and set the default browser of GNOME (Search -> Details -> Default Applications -> Browser). Then go back to KDE and it worked fine.


I know this is a very old question... but none of the answers seem to give the correct answer.

First check that these shell commands: xdg-mime query default x-scheme-handler/http and xdg-mime query default x-scheme-handler/https both return firefox.desktop

Then to set Evince (any other Gnome apps that encounter a URL) to use chromium instead:

xdg-mime default chromium-browser.desktop x-scheme-handler/http and xdg-mime default chromium-browser.desktop x-scheme-handler/https

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