Desktop entry: standard arctions, including "Print"?

Magnus Bergman magnusbe at
Wed Jul 28 07:52:56 EEST 2004

On Sun, 25 Jul 2004 00:11:05 -0400
"David A. Wheeler" <dwheeler at> wrote:

> I'd like to be able to select a set of files from the
> file manager, possibly not of the same MIME type, and drag them to
> a printer icon to print them... or right-click and select "Print".
> Open Office files, Gnumeric, whatever.
> To do that, I think it'd be useful to put enough information in
> the desktop entry spec to say how to do that, and a standard
> name for the action (I suggest "Print").
> And in fact, a short standard list of common operations
> would be a good idea methinks, for similar reasons.
> So in the desktop entry spec (currently 0.9.4),
> under "Detailed discussion of supporting MIME types",
> I suggest adding the following text just before
> the last paragraph ("If no DefaultApp is specified..."):
> "If an application supports printing,
> it SHOULD define an action 'Print' so that it can be used to
> print a given type.  Dragging file(s) onto a printer icon,
> or other actions that imply printing, should try to invoke
> a 'Print' action.  Where there is a separate editing operation
> not normally invoked, the action should be named 'Edit'."

In addition I suggest that each application should specify WHAT it does
(or rather everything it can do) to a file, from a limited set of action
(to avoid a nightmare for translators). If it is a viewer it should
define "View" and so on. All this to eventually eliminate the ambigous
"Open" action. The default "Open" action must of course stay a while
longer, but hopefully be obsoleted some time in the future. Instead a
default action could be choosen for each file type, but that's obviously
beyond the spec.

This would make it possible to select both player/viewer and editor for
each file type, which I think would increase usability a lot. I believe
that most users mostly play/view files but occationally wants to edit
them. So instead of selecting "Open with The GIMP" she can just select
"Edit" and doesn't need to know what every (seldomly used) application
does with files. And if the user is an artist she might want "Edit" as
the default action and occationally select "View".

(It would also be a step closer to my ideas about a natural language
controlled desktop, but that's another story.)

More information about the xdg mailing list