gapplication man page

gapplication — D-Bus application launcher


gapplication help [COMMAND]

gapplication version

gapplication list-apps

gapplication launch APPID

gapplication launch APPID [FILE...]

gapplication list-actions APPID

gapplication action APPID ACTION [PARAMETER]


gapplication is a commandline implementation of the client-side of the org.freedesktop.Application interface as specified by the freedesktop.org Desktop Entry Specification.

gapplication can be used to start applications that have DBusActivatable set to true in their .desktop files and can be used to send messages to already-running instances of other applications.

It is possible for applications to refer to gapplication in the Exec line of their .desktop file to maintain backwards compatibility with implementations that do not directly support DBusActivatable.

gapplication ships as part of GLib.


Global commands

help [COMMAND]

Displays a short synopsis of the available commands or provides detailed help on a specific command.


Prints the GLib version whence gapplication came.


Prints a list of all application IDs that are known to support D-Bus activation. This list is generated by scanning .desktop files as per the current XDG_DATA_DIRS.

launch APPID [FILE...]

Launches an application.

The first parameter is the application ID in the familiar "reverse DNS" style (eg: 'org.gnome.app') without the .desktop suffix.

Optionally, if additional parameters are given, they are treated as the names of files to open and may be filenames or URIs. If no files are given then the application is simply activated.

list-actions APPID

List the actions declared in the application's .desktop file. The parameter is the application ID, as above.


Invokes the named action (in the same way as would occur when activating an action specified in the .desktop file).

The application ID (as above) is the first parameter. The action name follows.

Optionally, following the action name can be one parameter, in GVariant format, given as a single argument. Make sure to use sufficient quoting.


From the commandline

Launching an application:

gapplication launch org.example.fooview

Opening a file with an application:

gapplication launch org.example.fooview ~/file.foo

Opening many files with an application:

gapplication launch org.example.fooview ~/foos/*.foo

Invoking an action on an application:

gapplication action org.example.fooview create

Invoking an action on an application, with an action:

gapplication action org.example.fooview show-item '"item_id_828739"'

From the Exec lines of a .desktop file

The commandline interface of gapplication was designed so that it could be used directly from the Exec line of a .desktop file.

You might want to do this to allow for backwards compatibility with implementations of the specification that do not understand how to do D-Bus activation, without having to install a separate utility program.

Consider the following example:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Foo Viewer
Exec=gapplication launch org.example.fooview %F

[Desktop Action gallery]
Name=Browse Gallery
Exec=gapplication action org.example.fooview gallery

[Desktop Action create]
Name=Create a new Foo!
Exec=gapplication action org.example.fooview create

From a script

If installing an application that supports D-Bus activation you may still want to put a file in /usr/bin so that your program can be started from a terminal.

It is possible for this file to be a shell script. The script can handle arguments such as --help and --version directly. It can also parse other command line arguments and convert them to uses of gapplication to activate the application, open files, or invoke actions.

Here is a simplified example, as may be installed in /usr/bin/fooview:


case "$1" in
    echo "see 'man fooview' for more information"

    echo "fooview 1.2"

    gapplication action org.example.fooview gallery

    gapplication action org.example.fooview create

    echo "unrecognised commandline argument"
    exit 1

    gapplication launch org.example.fooview "$@"

See Also

Desktop Entry Specification[1], gdbus(1), xdg-open(1), desktop-file-validate(1)



Desktop Entry Specification


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