On my Ubuntu computer, I have GIS file types like .shp associated with QGIS in Nautilus. When I double click on a .shp while I have a QGIS project open, it opens a new project in a new instance of QGIS, even if I have a project open.

On my Mac, if I have QGIS running and I double-click a .shp in Finder, the file will be added to the existing project.

Other files associated with other programs will open in a running instance rather than a new instance: text files will open in a new tab in my text editor, for example.

I'd like QGIS to add the shapefile in my opened project instead of launching a new instance. How can I do that ?

  • I think this question is on-topic for GIS Stack Exchange because it pertains specifically to a GIS software package, and the difference between that package on one OS vs another. Asking this question on a site like AskUbuntu would not be likely to find many other users familiar with the package. Furthermore, the question directly relates to common GIS workflow.
    – dericke
    Sep 13, 2017 at 15:58
  • I edited your question differently to help you reopening your question : I supposed the real question is not why it doesn open in the current project but how to achieve what you really want to do.
    – gisnside
    Sep 13, 2017 at 16:53
  • Could you check the file association ? askubuntu.com/questions/369967/… - just in case.
    – gisnside
    Sep 13, 2017 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


I don't think you can. I see the same behaviour with dolphin (different desktop) on different distro. Looking at qgis --help, nothing sticks out as useful and this is what the underlying system would use.

But there is a simple workaround. Drag'n'drop the file from your file manager into qgis and it will open as a new layer in the existing, open project.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.