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I am new to KDE and would like to make shortcuts that run default applications. For instance, I like CTRL-ALT-I to open my default browser. I have found that I can create a custom shortcut directly to a specific browser, but I would like it to respect the default browser. I have also tried a custom shortcut to xdg-open http://www.google.com, but this forces a specific page, ignoring the browser's default start page.

What is the "correct" way to do this in KDE?

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See KDE: how to detect default browser?

Simply write a script that takes the configured browser's name out of the configuration file and executes it. Assign a global shortcut to this script.

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As of 2020, xdg-open [protocol]:// will open that protocol's default handler.

xdg-open http:// 
xdg-open mailto://
xdg-open bitcoin://

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