Using The Panel

The panel stretches across the bottom of the desktop. By default, it contains the main menu icon and quick-launch icons for logging out, opening a terminal window, and other common applications and utilities.

Figure 3-4. The Panel

The panel is highly configurable. You can add and remove buttons that launch applications easily. Right-click on the panel and select Panel => Configuration to open the panel Settings.

Other tabs in Settings contain options to further customize your panel. Click on Help for more information on these options.

Applications and utilities can be added easily to the panel. To add an application to the panel, right-click on the panel and choose Panel => Add. Then select Button, Applet, Extension, or Special Button, and make your choice from the corresponding menus.

Using The K Menu

The K Menu is the main menu for KDE. Clicking on the K Menu icon on the panel displays a large master menu from which you can perform tasks such as launch applications, find files, and configure your desktop. The main menu also contains several submenus that organize applications and tools into several categories, including Utilities, Graphics, Internet, and Multimedia.

From the K Menu, you can lock your screen, which will display a password-protected screensaver. You can also run applications from a command line as well as logout of your KDE session.

Using Applets

Applets are small applications that run on the panel. There are several types of applets performing functions such as system/network monitoring, launching applications by typing commands in a text box, and even checking the local weather.

There are some applets that run on the panel by default. This section covers them in detail.

Working with Multiple Desktops

By default, KDE provides four desktops that you can use to display multiple applications without having to crowd all of them onto one desktop. Each desktop can hold icons, open applications, and have individually customized backgrounds.

For example, while you are writing a message in KMail on desktop one, you can have Konqueror browsing the Web on desktop two, the KWord word processor open on desktop three, and so on.

You can change the number and names of desktops available in KDE by making these adjustments:

  1. Right-click on the desktop; you will see a brief menu of actions you can take.

  2. Select Configure Desktop; the KDE panel configuration tool will open.

  3. Click the Number of Desktops tab (see Figure 3-5).

Figure 3-5. The Desktops Tab in the Panel Configuration

You can change the names of your desktops (from Desktop 1, Desktop 2, etc.) by deleting the default names and typing a new name in each desktop's corresponding text box.

You can also change the number of desktops available to you by adjusting the slider at the top of the Desktops tab. For more desktops, drag the bar to the right; for fewer desktops, drag the bar to the left.

The Desktop, Appearance, and Borders tabs are where you can make various desktop configuration selections, like icon arrangement and font size.

After you make any adjustments to your desktop configuration, click Apply to save the changes and close the panel configuration tool.

Buttons for your desktops appear on the panel in the Desktop Pager. Simply click on the tiles to move to a different desktop.


You can use the keyboard combination of the [Ctrl] and Function keys to switch desktops. For example, [Ctrl]-[F2] will switch you from desktop one to desktop two, [Ctrl]-[F3] will take you to desktop three, and so on.

Viewing The Taskbar

The taskbar displays all running applications — both minimized and on the desktop.

Figure 3-6. Applications on the Taskbar

You can maximize running applications or bring them to the front of your working windows by clicking on the associated item on the taskbar.


Another way to bring minimized or background windows to the front is to use the [Alt] and [Tab] keys. To pick an item from the taskbar, hold down [Alt]-[Tab]. To scroll through the tasks, hold down the [Alt] key, while pressing the [Tab] key in succession. When you have found the task you want to maximize and bring to the front, release both keys.

Adding Icons and Applets to the Panel

To further customize the panel for your particular needs, you can include additional applets and icons (launchers).

To add an applet to the panel, click K Menu => Configure Panel => Add => Applet. Choose the applet you want from the menu and it will immediately appear on the panel. You can move the applet by clicking on the applet bar and choosing Move from the menu.

To add a new launcher to the panel, click K Menu => Configure Panel => Add => Button and choose the application or resource you wish to add to the panel. This will automatically add an icon on the panel.

Configuring the KDE Panel

You can hide the panel automatically or manually, place it on any edge of your desktop, change its size and color, and change the way it behaves. To alter the default panel settings, click K Menu => Configure Panel => Preferences. The Settings window will appear, allowing you to adjust all panel settings, or any one of the specific properties (Position, Hiding, Look & Feel, Menus, and so on).