URI handlers in Linux

When you click an email address, it automatically opens in your email client. But I don’t have an email client, I use webmail. I wrote a custom handler for Linux.

First write a program to open mailto links. Mailto links look like “mailto:me@mail.com” or maybe even “mailto:me@mail.com?subject=mysubject&body=mybody“. Test it by hand on a few links. Mine (mailto-opener) composes a new message using my webmail.

Next, write a desktop file for the opener. Here’s one:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=mailto: link opener (github.com/za3k/short-programs)

# The executable of the application, possibly with arguments.
Exec=/home/zachary/.projects/short-programs/mailto-opener %u

Note the %u in the Exec= line. That’s required.

Now update your system mimetype database. On my Arch Linux install, I run

xdg-mime default mailto-opener.desktop x-scheme-handler/mailto

Finally, restart your browser. Really. Firefox and Chromium/Chrome both cache mimetype openers.

A related opener I added recently was for magnet links, such as are popularly used for bittorrent.

~ $ cat /usr/local/share/applications/transmission-remote.desktop 
[Desktop Entry]
Name=transmission-remote magnet link opener
Exec=transmission-remote <TRANSMISSION INSTANCE> -a

transmission-remote is the name of a command-line Linux program. It connects to an instance of Tranmission (a popular torrent client) running on another machine.

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