I have multiple browsers on my system (Firefox, Google Chrome, and Chromium).
I normally use one of them at a time based on my needs, but when other applications want to open a browser they always open their/system default browser.

Is there an application or script that is able to detect if a browser is already running and use it as current default browser?


I don't want a browser to detect its own instance! I want a browser requester program/script to detect any already open browser.

  • For example assume I have Firefox, Google Chrome and Chromium, and I click a link in a PDF file, and Chromium is already open. I want the link to be opened in Chromium.
  • At another time, Firefox is open. Then I want the link to be opened in Firefox.

Actually, I want already open browser have more priority than the system default one.

  • Normally the browsers detect it themselves and use an existing window unless you use command line parameters like -no-remote (Firefox and Chrome AFAIK). – phk Dec 31 '16 at 14:01
  • @phk: no! I don't want a browser detect itself's instance ! i want a scenario like the one i wrote in my edit on Q – RYN Dec 31 '16 at 14:26
  • I solved a similar question here: unix.stackexchange.com/a/515669/195674 – Melle Apr 29 '19 at 20:57

The following Python program uses the psutil module to get a list of processes that belong to you, checks if a known browser is running, and if so, start that one again. If no browser could be found, a default one is started. I've added some comments to clarify what's going on in the script.

Apart from the script itself, you'd still need to make this executable with chmod and make sure that the script is executed instead of launching a particular browser.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import psutil
import os
import subprocess
import sys
import pwd

def getlogin():
    return pwd.getpwuid(os.geteuid()).pw_name

def start_browser(exe_path):
    # Popen should start the process in the background
    # We'll also append any command line arguments
    subprocess.Popen(exe_path + sys.argv[1:]) 

def main():
    # Get our own username, to see which processes are relevant
    me = getlogin()

    # Process names from the process list are linked to the executable
    # name needed to start the browser (it's possible that it's not the
    # same). The commands are specified as a list so that we can append
    # command line arguments in the Popen call.
    known_browsers = { 
        "chrome": [ "google-chrome-stable" ],
        "chromium": [ "chromium" ],
        "firefox": [ "firefox" ]

    # If no current browser process is detected, the following command
    # will be executed (again specified as a list)
    default_exe = [ "firefox" ]
    started = False

    # Iterate over all processes
    for p in psutil.process_iter():
            info = p.as_dict(attrs = [ "username", "exe" ])
        except psutil.NoSuchProcess:
            # If we're the one running the process we can
            # get the name of the executable and compare it to
            # the 'known_browsers' dictionary
            if info["username"] == me and info["exe"]:
                exe_name = os.path.basename(info["exe"])
                if exe_name in known_browsers:
                    started = True

    # If we didn't start any browser yet, start a default one
    if not started:

if __name__ == "__main__":
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