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Guide Beginner Launching applications With Keyboard Shortcuts - AppImages


Trusted User
Founding Member
Nov 23, 2018
Anyone using AppImages will likely be tired of having to navigate to and click on the file. Alternately, you can copy / paste or type the whole thing out in Terminal or use any of the search functions. I find it extremely tedious, so I looked for, and found, a brilliant solution to creating keyboards shortcuts to launch AppImages easily. This method allows for all of your AppImages to be launched with a minimal name as the shortcut command. Additionally, doing it this way will stop the command / shortcut from breaking when the Image is updated and the version number changes.

The credit goes to Joesph. J. Pollock, and the information was found here.

The first thing you need to decide is where you want to keep all your AppImages. If you have a special folder already, you'll have to edit the line that reads: cd "$HOME/Containers" ## Where all my AppImages live to reflect where you keep them. The author uses "$HOME/Containers" which you can emulate if you like. I have left mine in "$HOME/Downloads". You can choose wherever you want to stash your AppImages.

The next step is to create the file with a text editor. You can use whichever editor you like, but the system default is Nano, and is a fantastic choice. The script should be saved as a file in a directory in your PATH such as $HOME/bin, and, set as executable. If you run echo $PATH, you will be presented with possible options for PATH. It made sense to put this file in /usr/bin in Pop. Now open a terminal, which will by default give a prompt in your $HOME directory. Type the following: nano app_launch . Now copy and paste in the script below.

## app_launch
## Launch an AppImage with a variable name
## Copyleft 06/10/2019 - Joseph J Pollock - JPmicrosystems
## Usage: app_launch <unique-name-substring>
## FIXME: arg may not have embedded blanks

##source $HOME/bin/bash_trace
cd "$HOME/Containers"  ## Where all my AppImages live
##find . -iname \*$1\*.AppImage  ## debug
real_name="$(find . -iname \*$1\*.AppImage)"
##echo "real_name = [$real_name]"

count="$(echo "$real_name" | wc -l)"
if (( count > 1 ))
  echo "Found more than one possible AppImage"
  exit 1

if [[ ! -x "$real_name" ]]
  echo "Can't find an executable AppImage for [$1]"
  exit 1


It should look like this:
Screenshot from 2021-06-24 22-43-06.png

In Nano you save a file with ctrl + s, and exit with ctrl + x.

We need to make it executable and move it to the correct place in your PATH. We do that with `chmod`, or, change mode. It is used to change access permissions.

chmod +x app_launch

Now move it. You will need administrative privileges to move a file from $HOME to the system, so we use sudo, short for "super-user-do".

sudo mv ~/app_launch /usr/bin/app_launch

OK, that part is complete and you're nearly done!

Now to create the keyboard shortcut. Head over to Settings> Keyboard> Keyboard Shortcuts> Customize Shortcuts> Custom Shortcuts> Add Shortcut. A modal window will pop up to enter the information.

It doesn't really matter what you call it, but lets keep consistency: App-Launch.

The command is important, so it needs to be entered correctly: app_launch <name of AppImage> %U
Where I have <name of AppImage>, you just need the name and NOT the whole file name. For example, balenaEtcher-1.5.120-x64.AppImage will work if you use balena. So putting it all together this one would be app_launch balena %U.

Now choose a key combination. I recommend consistency when making shortcuts, and stick to using either super + <letter> or ctrl + shift + <letter>. Your choice will depend on whether it will conflict with an existing shortcut. Super + b will open your default browser, so I would use ctrl + shift + b for this particular one. Click Add and you're done. Launch that AppImage!
Last edited:


Trusted User
Founding Member
Nov 23, 2018
That looks like a neat little piece of software. From what I can see at a glance, I think it's a GUI version of making a .desktop entry via CLI. Either of those methods would be brilliant for most people using the Dash or a dock, or, people who like desktop icons to click. However, I just want to point out the method I've outlaid above is for a keyboard centric / keyboard shortcut only workflow. That is what attracted me to it. Anyone reading this who is happy with mouse clicking things to launch apps can easily use The Assassin or the desktop entry method. Here is the CLI method of that, and I'm happy to share it despite being downvoted and misunderstood.
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