I go back and forth between Linux, Windows, and OS X, and I end up getting a lot of proprietary files in my Dropbox. It’s been bugging me for a long time that there’s no xdg handler for Windows .url files in Linux, so I finally strung one together.

A .url files in windows looks something like this:

; ~/example.url

Simple, elegant, clean.

In order to pull the url out of a file like that, we just have to find the line that begins with URL=, cut that line at the =, and take the second piece. That’s a one-liner in Bash:

cat "${MY_FILE}" | grep "URL=" | cut -d = -f 2

Once we have the URL, we can feed it to xdg-open to open it in the default browser. Here’s a Bash script that does that with a few embellishments.

# ~/bin/openurl
# A script for opening windows `.url` files.

URL=$(cat "$1" | grep "URL=" | cut -d= -f2)
echo -e "Opening\n$URL\nin default browser..."
xdg-open "$URL" & sleep 3

Remember to make it executable:

$ chmod +x ~/bin/openurl

The $1 refers to the first argument, so if we invoke as openurl example.url, then $1 will expand to example.url. We can try this from the command line, and you should see that it works as intended.

$ openurl example.url
in default browser...
Created new window in existing browser session.

The last line of output is created by chromium-browser, my default browser.

Nice, but not enough. We ultimately want to be able to just double click on example.url in our file manager, and then have a browser tab open with the correct URL. The program that makes all of that work is called xdg-open, so we need xdg-open example.url to invoke ~/bin/openurl example.url. For this, we need to create a .desktop file for ~/bin/openurl.

We need to know the MIME-type of a .url files, so we check real quick:

$ xdg-mime query filetype example.url

And now we can write our .desktop file.

; ~/.local/share/applications/openurl.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Comment=A script for opening windows `.url` files.
Exec=<FULL PATH TO EXECUTABLE, eg /home/me/bin/openurl>

Finally, we just need to tell xdg to open application/x-mswinurl types with openurl.desktop.

$ xdg-mime default openurl.desktop application/x-mswinurl

Now, we can open .url files in Linux by double clicking them. Not sure how I’m going to do all this wiring in OS X, though.

Here are a few pages that I referenced to get this working:

  1. xdg-open - ArchWiki
  2. unity - Creating a .desktop file for a new application - Ask Ubuntu