Configure your desktop

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Configuring your desktop has changed a lot between KDE 3.5 and KDE 4 and 5. For those updating, a bit of explanation is needed.

There is an ergonomical dead end / cûl de sac when setting up the desktop:

Configure Desktop Alt-D , Alt-S is in one-click-distance, namely a right-click with the mousepointer pointing onto the desktop. When you go into that menu, you can actually remove Configure Desktop from the menu. But now, you cannot re-enable it via GUI anymore! So try press and hold Alt then press D then S . If unsuccessful, the way to get back Configure Desktop is to edit the corresponding text file, run

kate ~/.config/plasma-org.kde.plasma.desktop-appletsrc

and under section [ActionPlugins][0][RightButton;NoModifier] make sure the lines are present:

configure shortcuts=true
After relogin, Configure Desktop is visible again and you can click it to modify mousebutton settings et cetera in GUI fashion like before.


Challenge: You want to place icons on your desktop (like: "watch TV" or "play pingus")


  • with KDE 3.5, right-click and choose "Create link to Application"
  • with KDE 4 it is much more complicated:
    • the "Desktop folder" approach
      • start Konqueror, choose Help -> About KDE. Verify you have KDE 4.2 at least.
      • right-click onto your desktop, choose Desktop Settings -> Type -> Folder View
      • in 4.5 that becomes Desktop Settings -> Activity -> Type -> Folder View
      • right-click onto your desktop, choose Create new... -> Link to Application
    • the "drag and drop" approach
      • Open a file manager and drag the file you would like onto the desktop. It will appear there as icon.


Let's assume you want an icon on your desktop that starts Konqueror:

  • find out where the executable is located
    • start a konsole by Alt + F2 and then typing
    • type
      which konqueror
      let's assume the response is
    • point your konqueror to where you can find your executable, in this case /usr/local/bin
    • drag-and-drop konqueror onto your desktop

Now you can start konqueror by clicking onto the konqueror icon on your desktop


Your desktop is now based on Plasma. This makes it possible to run widgets (sometimes referred to as plasmoids) on it, e.g. a clock that docks directly to your desktop and is not surrounded by a border. To add the "clock" widget, right-click onto your desktop and choose Add widget.... E.g. choose the Analog Clock Widget there.

Rearrange your Panel

Most of us are creatures of habit, and like our panel to show icons in a familiar order. Plasma appears to drop icons in a random order, but you can re-arrange them as long as you have KDE 4.1 or later. If you have the Panel Controller (which looks like a Cashew in a semi-circle) on the right hand edge of your panel, you can re-order or change the size and justification of the panel. See Can I move the applets on the panel?

Many more such hints are on the Plasma FAQ pages.

Access your files on a remote desktop

Under KDE3, if you had an fstab mount to a remote directory you got an icon on your desktop. This doesn't happen in KDE4, but there's an even better way to reach your files.

Create a folderview (right-click on desktop, Add Widgets -> Folderview). It will be pointing to your home directory by default, but click on the spanner on the handle, to get properties, and you can direct it to open in your remote home. If you keep your folder fairly small you'll be able to scroll down to the exact directory you need, and open it in Konqueror (which in some versions seems to be the default for remote directories. It may well be that this can be changed, too.)

More than one File Manager

Everything mentioned as possible in Konqueror can also be done in Dolphin. At first glance you might think Dolphin lacks features, but read the pages linked from the Dolphin page to learn the new features that make it so powerful.

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