How do I launch the default terminal emulator by command? x-terminal-emulator won't work because I'm not using a Debian and xdg-terminal doesn't seem to exist either. Is there any other way to launch the default terminal emulator?

It will be on GNOME although the terminal might not be gnome-terminal but e.g. tilix instead.

Already found this, but a hard-coded list or something similar probably won't do, because I'm looking for a single command that can perform this.


2 Answers 2


There's no generic concept of default terminal emulator.

To get the GNOME desktop's default, use the following commands (taken from https://stackoverflow.com/a/18647630/4457671):

gsettings get org.gnome.desktop.default-applications.terminal exec
gsettings get org.gnome.desktop.default-applications.terminal exec-arg

As egmont already described, there are no defaults for the terminal emulators, as the implementations vary greatly.

I have replied in longer format to a similar question on Super User, Find the default terminal emulator with this answer.

  • Some desktops do have a setting for default terminal though. In XFCE exo-open --launch TerminalEmulator should launch the terminal set in xfce-settings. Cinnamon also has a setting for default terminal. No idea where these are stored though. Feb 10 at 2:49

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