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Update 12/2017

After many years of waiting Atom finally supports URI handling. If your Atom is up-to-date then you no longer need this package!

The open package now provides support and instructions for opening local files in Atom via URL.

Atom Handler

A handler to open atm:// URLs in Atom editor on OSX. Inspired by subl.

Atom Handler registers itself to handler links with the atm:// protocol, similar to the protocol TextMate handles (txmt://) or the which can be used for Sublime Text (subl:// or sublime://). The protocol can then be used to open files in your Atom editor. Read on to learn how to use Atom Handler.

Note: We would have liked to have used atom:// as a protocol, but that is already taken and used for other purposes by Atom itself.


  • Install Atom Shell Commands. Within Atom select from the menu: Atom > Install Shell Commands


  • Download the latest release ( and unzip it.
  • Move into your /Applications directory.
  • Open the application which will register the handler and exit immediately.

Opening the application in the last step may be prevented by OS security. If that happens go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy. You should see a message about "atom-txmt-url-handler" being blocked. Click the button which says "Open Anyway".

Note: Nothing appears on the screen when you open the application. Also, opening the application does not have any effect after the first time, opening it multiple times will do no harm.

Testing the Installation

You can quickly test the installation from the command line. These commands should create a file and open it in Atom:

echo "Hello, world" >> /tmp/test.txt
open "atm://open?url=file:///tmp/test.txt"


Atom Handler will handle URLs which match the TextMate URL scheme and take the following format:


Opening a URL with this format will open the given file in the Atom editor and place the cursor at the beginning of the line number (if given). Note that the column option does not seem to be supported by the Atom command line utility. If a column is given then Atom simply ignores it. The option is supported for compatibility with TextMate and Sublime Text URLs.


  • atm://open?url=file:///path/to/other
  • atm://open?url=file:///path/to/other&line=42
  • atm://open?url=file:///path/to/file&line=42&column=7
  • atm://open?url=file://%2Fpath%2Fto%2Fother # URL-encoded slashes (/)

These URLs may be opened from a browser or from the command line using the system open command. See the Integrations section below for use with popular platforms and frameworks.

URL Encoding

Note that The file path may contain the following URL-encoded values.

name character URL encoding
slash / %2F
space %20 OR +
plus + %2B
at @ %40

Plus-signs are legal characters in file names and must be escaped as %2B since an unescaped + will be transformed into a space character. We highly discourage using plus-signs in file names since support for it varies across systems.

Spaces in file names must likewise be escaped. These are also discouraged since many scripts and applications do not handle them properly.

Known Limitations

Currently this application relies on the atom CLI utility being accessible at /usr/local/bin/atom in order to open the files. If there is a better way of finding the CLI utility, please let me know or open a pull request.


BetterErrors (Ruby on Rails)

Install Better Errors in your Rails application and add the following code to an initializer (or any other location where it will be executed when your application is loaded.)

if defined? BetterErrors
  BetterErrors.editor = "atm://open?url=file://%{file}&line=%{line}"

PHP Xdebug

Install Xdebug for PHP, add the following to your php.ini, and restart your webserver.



Atom Handler is released under the BSD 3-Clause license.


atm:// URL handler for Atom editor on OSX







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