Changing the default browser in Thunderbird

I have spent a very long time trying to work out how to change the default browser in Thunderbird on Linux. All the tutorials I’ve found tell you to edit settings through the Advanced preferences menu, or by editing prefs.js. Neither of these worked for me.

After a lot of exploration, I’ve discovered that there’s a special file that controls Thunderbird’s choice of browser:

~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list

On my machine, this contained the following:

[Default Applications]
text/html=chromium-browser.desktop
x-scheme-handler/http=chromium-browser.desktop
x-scheme-handler/https=chromium-browser.desktop
x-scheme-handler/about=chromium-browser.desktop
x-scheme-handler/unknown=chromium-browser.desktop
x-scheme-handler/mailto=thunderbird.desktop
message/rfc822=thunderbird.desktop
application/x-extension-eml=thunderbird.desktop

[Added Associations]
message/rfc822=thunderbird.desktop;
application/x-extension-eml=thunderbird.desktop;

You’ll see that everything is pointing to the chromium-browser.desktop application definition file – not what I wanted. So I simply shut down Thunderbird, replaced everything to firefox.desktop, and restarted. (The file should now look like this:

[Default Applications]
text/html=firefox.desktop
x-scheme-handler/http=firefox.desktop
x-scheme-handler/https=firefox.desktop
x-scheme-handler/about=firefox.desktop
x-scheme-handler/unknown=firefox.desktop
x-scheme-handler/mailto=thunderbird.desktop
message/rfc822=thunderbird.desktop
application/x-extension-eml=thunderbird.desktop

[Added Associations]
message/rfc822=thunderbird.desktop;
application/x-extension-eml=thunderbird.desktop;

Everything is lovely again. The slight caveat is that links are always opened in a new window. It would be a trivial matter to create your own version of the firefox.desktop file which includes the command line parameters for opening the link in a new tab instead, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for you.

January 27, 2015   Tags: apps, linux/ubuntu

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