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How to Configure a KDE Panel

 How to Customise your KDE Desktop using Panels and Widgets

KDE Panel Configuration

The KDE desktop is known for it's configurability. In this article, we will look at the basic configuration of a KDE Panel. The following screenshots are taken from the KDE Plasma Desktop of Kubuntu 12.04.

KDE Panel Configuration is [..] geared around two main constructs: [..] the Panel [and] [..] the Widget

KDE Panel Configuration is, in many ways, similar to that of Gnome 2.x (-all of which disappeared with Gnome 3.x and Unity) and is geared around two main constructs:

  • The Panel : this is an area of the screen (-normally anchored to one of the screen edges) which can contain multiple Widgets

  • The Widget : this is a sub-component of a Panel - often an icon or shortcut to a function

Creating a New KDE Panel

Before you can alter the Desktop, you need to unlock the Widgets (-if not done already). This can be done by clicking on the Desktop Cashew (in the top right corner of the desktop) then selecting the "Unlock Widgets" option:

KDE Unlock Widgets

Once unlocked, click on the "Add Panel" option from the same menu and choose either "Empty Panel" or "Default Panel": the latter will create a duplicate of the KDE Panel at the bottom of the screen:

KDE Create Empty Panel

A new Panel will then be created - by default at the top of the Desktop (-unless already occupied).

Adding a Widget to a KDE Panel

Once you have created your Panel, you can begin to add Widgets to it. You can also, of course, add Widgets to any existing Panel - including the default KDE Panel at the bottom of the screen. When you are ready, click on the Desktop Cashew (in the top right corner of the desktop) then select the "Add Widgets" option:

Add Widgets Icon

This will display a scrollable list of available Widgets at the bottom of the Desktop:

KDE   Widget Selection

Hovering the mouse over each Widget, you will see a description of what it does, so you can decide if it is something you would find useful on your desktop:

Selecting a KDE Widget

Once you locate the Widget that you want, click and drag it to the required position in the desired Panel - then release the mouse button to "drop" it there:

Dragging a KDE Widget to a Panel

Note: if you do not find a suitable Widget you can download new KDE Widgets from the web and add them to your "Widget Bank" by clicking on the "Get New Widgets.." button

You should then see your new Widget in the desired Panel:

A new Widget added to a KDE Panel

Configuring the KDE Panel

By default, Panels are displayed at screen edges, as a strip just high enough to display the Widget icons without truncating them (-again, this is akin to those the old Gnome 2.x). However, KDE allows you to both resize and reposition Panels as you desire!

Note: KDE Panels still need to be rooted to a screen edge, but you can move them around within an edge

To change the position or size of a Panel, first click on the Cashew icon at the right hand side of the required Panel:

KDE Panel Cashew

To move a Panel to a different screen edge, click on the "Screen Edge" icon and drag the Panel to the top, bottom, left or right edge of the screen, before releasing the mouse:

KDE Screen Edge Icon

To resize the Panel, click-drag the top and/or bottom margin arrows and release them at the desired location:

KDE Panel Sizing Icons

To alter the width of the Panel, click on the "Width" icon and drag the Panel in or out as desired, before releasing the mouse:

KDE Panel Width Icon

Further configuration options can be accessed by clicking "More Settings" button; this will display a pop-up menu allowing you to specify things like whether the Panel is always visible or only appears when you hover the mouse over it's position, etc:

KDE Panel More Settings Menu

To quit Panel configuration, simply click on the close icon: Close KDE Panel. You should then see your customised Panel displayed:

A Customised KDE Panel

Adding Applications to the Panel

You can also add Applications to a KDE Panel, by right-clicking on the desired Application in the Main Menu and choosing the "Add to Panel" option:

Right-click Option for KDE Application

You should then see the icon for that Application listed in your KDE Panel (-here it is the File Manager icon):

App Icon in a KDE Panel

Preventing Accidental Changes

Once you have configured the Desktop the way that you want it, don't forget to lock your Widgets, to avoid accidental change. This can be done by clicking on the Desktop Cashew (in the top right corner of the desktop) then selecting the "Lock Widgets" option:

KDE Lock Widgets

References and Further Reading:

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