How to Get Great Looking Fonts in KDE

Text appearance is probably one of the most underrated features of any computing experience. It is easy to overlook fonts because words are all around us, and we expect them to be pleasing to the eyes and easy to read, but probably only notice when they are not.

In reality, a font can make or break a desktop’s appearance and accessibility. KDE makes it incredibly easy to install and configure fonts, but since I could not find any one document that lists all of the features and functionality, MakeTakeEasier comes to the rescue again.

KDE does not have a default font set. That completely depends on the Unix or Linux distribution you happen to be using. The font you choose should be both aesthetically pleasing and also easy to read. Whether you realize it or not, you do a lot of reading on your computer, from menus to emails, making font appearance a critical feature.

To change KDE fonts, do the following:

  1. Open System Settings by clicking the “K” menu and then going to “Applications -> Settings -> System Settings”. If it is in a different place, you can type it in the search box to get to it.
  2. Under the category “Common Appearance and Behavior”, click “Application Appearance”.
  3. Choose the fourth sidebar item from the top labeled “Fonts”
  4. Click the “Choose” button to the right of the font type you want to change or click “Adjust All Fonts” to change them all at once.

KDE font settings

In addition to selecting the font you want, you can also set some font rendering settings. Anti-aliasing will give the fonts a smoother look, removing jagged edges, but it can also make them slightly blurry. Some users must have this setting on while others cannot stand it.

If you click “Configure” next to that option, you will see some options for “subpixel rendering“, which may vary depending on your monitor and graphics driver. “Hinting” may make your words clearer, but you should experiment with it to get the best results possible.

kde font anti-aliasing

You can install fonts from within system settings, but this is not the only way to do it. You can also install them directly from Dolphin, KDE’s file manager. First, to install using System Settings:

  1. Start System Settings
  2. Under “System Administration” click “Font installer”
  3. Click “Add”at the bottom to install a new font.
  4. It will then ask you if you want to install it for “Personal” or “System”. “Personal” refers to local fonts for only your current user, while “System” refers to fonts usable by all users. If you choose “System”, it will prompt you for your administrative or root password.

KDE font installer

When you download a font from the web or want to install one from a removable device, you do not have to go into the font installer. You can install fonts from anywhere using Dolphin. To do so:

  1. Open Dolphin and navigate to the folder where you have saved the fonts
  2. Click the font to open it, and it should bring up KDE’s font viewer, which will provide a preview.
  3. Click “Install”.

Alternatively, if you do not need a preview, you can skip the font viewer and simply right click on the font, go to “Actions” in the menu, and then click “Install”. In either case, it will prompt you to choose between Personal and System.

KDE font viewer

KDE applications will almost always use the global fonts you specify. In some cases, however, you can use custom fonts for individual applications like KMail. Furthermore, you may need to configure fonts manually for Qt-only apps and GTK apps, although this may happen automatically. For Qt, you can use qtconfig and qtconfig-qt4. For GTK, you can use gtk-chtheme. Once you are finished, you will have a beautiful KDE desktop with your fonts exactly the way you want them.