Re: mime types and gnome

> How can I configure gnome to launch a particular application when I
> click on a certain file type?

Check this (from gnome-libs/devel-docs/mime-type-handling.txt):

1. MIME type handling in the GNOME desktop

MIME types are using to distinguish what sort of operations and
attributes a file has.  The operations are usually things like: how to
open files of a given mime-type, how to view them, what icon is used
to display it and so on.

Besides the MIME types, in GNOME, the metadata system is used to
provide information in a per-file basis (for example, to override the
defaults of the mime-type). 

GNOME uses a number of techniques depending on the speed requirements
to figure out what the MIME type of a file is.  It is possible to get
the mime-type by only using the filename or if speed is not important,
by checking the actual file contents (for more information look at the
gnome-mime.h header file and the accompanying documentation).

There are ways in GNOME to fetch the values bound to a mime-type with
the routines provided in gnome-mime-info.c.

2. Mapping a filename to a MIME type

To make the GNOME desktop aware of a new MIME type it is necessary to
install a file with the extension .mime in the $gnome/share/mime-info
directory or from the ~/.gnome/mime-info directory.

The file $gnome/share/mime-info/gnome.mime is special, as it contains
the defaults for gnome, and is read first.  In addition, the file
~/.gnome/mime-info/user.mime is read last.  This will guarantee that
there is a way to set system defaults, and there is a way for the user
to override them.  There is currently no way to tell anything about the
order of the other files in those directories, nor is there anyway to
override system defaults yet.

The format is the following:

	ext[,priority]: ext1 ext2 ext3
	ext[,priority]: ext4
	regex[,priority]: regex1
	regex[,priority]: regex2

where "mime-type-name" is a valid MIME type.  For example

Multiple ext and regex entries can be provided for this mime-type.
Please note that the regex keyword only allows one regular expression
per line, while the ext keyword lets you list a number of extensions
in the same line.

The priority indicates the number of components that your extension
matches (the bigger the number, the better).  Right now, only
priorities 1 and 2 are supported.

This is required to distinguish the mime type correctly for situations
like "emacs.tar.gz", where the .gz could match the "compressed" rule,
while the real match should be for "tar.gz", so a "tar.gz" would have
a higher priority

For example, for a vCalendar application, this file would be

------ calendar.mime  -------
	ext: vcf

3. Adding keys to a MIME type

To add keys to a mime-type, it is necessary to install a file with the
extension .keys in the $gnome/share/mime-info directory or from the
~/.gnome/mime-info directory.

Similar to the .mime files, there is a provision for a
$gnome/share/mime-info/gnome.keys file and a
~/.gnome/mime-info/user.keys file.  This, as above, allows for both
defaults and user preferences.

The file has the following format:


"mime-type-match" allows you to provide either a full mime-type, or a
glob expression, for example, you can list "image/gif" for making the
entries apply to the image/gif mime type or "image/*" if you want the
keys to apply to all of the images.

The [LANG] part is optional, and it used to provide internationalized
versions of any strings appearing in the value.

key is the key (a number of keys are standardized) and value is the
value bound to it.

For example, the GIMP could ship with this file:

------ gimp.keys --------
	open=gimp %f

This will make the GIMP the handler for the open action.  Files of
type xcf would use the filename pointed in the icon-filename key.

%f gets interpolated with the file name or the list of file names that
matched this mime-type.

As you can see, a .keys file does not need to provide all of the
values, it can just provide or override some of the actions.

Note that user defined bindings in .keys file will take precedence
over system installed files.

4. Default keys

The following keys are recognized in the GNOME desktop:

    key			action

    open		open the give file with this command.

    icon-filename	points to a filename with the icon
			that should be used to represent files 
			of this type

    view                Command to view the file contents.

    ascii-view          A command that should be used to do
			an ascii-rendering of the file.   Used as 
			a fall-back by the filemanager if a "view"
			action does not exist.

    fm-open             file-manager open.  If present, the file
			manager will use this action instead of the
			value in open to perform this action (the 
			filemanager for example will open archive files
			as if they were directories by using the VFS).

    fm-view		file-manager view.  If present, invoking the
			view operation on the file manager will use the
			value defined here instead of the value in

    fm-ascii-view	Fall-back operation for the file manager as

Those keys are also queried on the metadata (except in the cases where
the lookup would be too expensive). 

5. Defining multiple actions

Sometimes it is important to provide more than one "open" action.  To
do this, the keys should be specified in the following fashion (The
same applies to any other key that might need more than one option):

	open=command %f
	open.tag1.Do this and that=this-and-that %f
	open.tag2.Gzip it=gzip %f
	open.tag3.Mail it=mail %{Recipient} < %f

This will define a default action (which would invoke "command %f"),
and three extra open commands:
   "Do this and that"	-> this-and-that %f
   "Gzip it"		-> gzip %f
   "Mail it"		-> mail ${Recipient} < %f

Please notice that you have to add a "tag" to every "open" key.

6. Localizing the texts for a tagged key

The reason for using the tags, is that they are required to
distinguish the correct value for internationalization purposes, here
is how the above example would be translated to Spanish:

	open=command %f
	open.tag1.Do this and that=this-and-that %f
	[es]open.tag1.Hacer esto y aquello=this and that %f
	open.tag2.Gzip it=gzip %f
	[es]open.tag2.Comprimir con gzip=gzip %f
	open.tag3.Mail it=mail %{Recipient} < %f
	[es]open.tag3.Enviarlo por correo=mail %{Recipient} < %f
	open.tag4.Example=example %f

To the application programmer, if the code is running with LANG=es, he
will get the following keys: "open", "open.tag1.Hacer esto y aquello",
"open.tag2.Comprimir con gzip", "open.tag3.Enviarlo por correo" and

If a translation entry were missing, he would get the general
definition for the default value (in the example above, I did not
translate the value for open.tag4.

Miguel de Icaza (


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