10 Awesome Features of Krunner in KDE 4


Many KDE 3 users depended on Krun, a simple yet effective application used to execute commands. Executed simply by pressing “Alt-F2”, it was much easier to start applications using it, rather than navigating through a launch menu or opening a terminal window. The only catch with Krun was that you had to know the exact name of the command you intended to launch.  With the advent of KDE 4, that has all changed.

Krunner operates independently of the Plasma desktop system as a standalone application. It includes a ton of features that make it useful beyond simple command launching.  It has retained many of the features present in KDE 3 and greatly expanded them. We would fail to do it justice if we did not give it a top ten list.

10. Calculator

Krunner calculator

Do you need to figure out how much money you have left for groceries after subscribing to three MMORPGs?  Just press “Alt-F2” or right click on the desktop and press “run command”. To use Krunner as a calculator, type the = sign and then enter the equation.  For example, type “=890*12”, and it will output a calculator icon and the answer: “10680”. Simply select the answer to calculate the next equation with it. KDE 3 had a similar calculating feature that automatically opened Google’s calculator.  With this you can calculate multiple times without leaving the Krunner window.

9. Spellchecker

Krunner spell checker

If you are anything like me, you are obsessed with spelling things correctly and yet could not spell to save your life.  If you happen to be typing a blog post in OpenOffice.org or using Firefox’s spellcheck feature, you will be safe. But if you are in the middle of one of those MMORPGs and need to spell “elemental” correctly, hop into windowed mode and press “Alt-F2”. Then type “spell:” followed by  your best attempt at spelling the word you need. Krunner will offer suggestions.

8. Unit converter

Krunner unit converter

Are you planning to visit any country outside of the U.S. and cannot understand why people “don’t speak American”?  KDE will rescue you again. Open Krunner and enter a number and any unit you can imagine. By default, it will convert that unit to meters. Add “in” or “as” followed by another unit, and it will immediately output the conversion. For example, type “5 miles in cm” and it will output: “804672 centimeters”.

7. Contact finder

Krunner contacts

Whenever you need to shoot off a quick email, just type in the name of a person in your address book (You must use Kaddressbook for this work). Krunner will pull up any names close to what you type and display: “Mail to so-and-so”.

6. Website launcher

Krunner website launcher

Krunner can launch any website you type in your default browser. It will also use konqueror shortcuts. For example, to search Google Images, enter: “images: pandas”. It will display its function before you press enter: “Search Google Image Search for pandas”. It can also launch bookmarks and browser history.

5. Location launch

Krunner location launcher

Are you tired of navigating through file folders? Just type in the folder you want to reach in Krunner. If you want to open your Music folder, just type “Music”. It is really that simple.

4. Desktop search

Krunner desktop search

You know you typed a paper two years ago on tectonic plate shifting, but you just cannot find it. If you are using Strigi, KDE’s desktop search system, Krunner can find it. Type in any search terms you want and let the desktop searching do the rest.

3. Task manager

Krunner task manager

A slimmed down version of ksysguard, KDE’s task manager is available as a component within Krunner. Users can access it by clicking on the second icon from the left in the Krunner window or by pressing Ctrl-Esc anywhere within KDE. It is quick and easy, allowing you to monitor CPU and Memory usage. You can also kill applications at will. Use with care.

2. Application search

Krunner application search

Suppose you want to launch a card game but cannot remember the name. Just type in “card” into Krunner, and your card game applications will appear. You can also begin typing the name of an application, and Krunner will display all the applications that start with those letters while you are typing.

1. Command launcher

Krunner command launcher

Even with all of the new features, nothing beats the original. Krunner is still a command launcher and still keeps a history of commands you have launched, which you can display either by beginning to retype them or opening the drop-down menu. Therefore, you only have to type “kdesudo kate /etc/X11/xorg.conf” once, and Krunner will remember it the next 20 times you want to tweak your X server.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Krunner is that it is extensible. Many of the plugins mentioned above were authored by users who were not on the original Krunner development team. Anyone can write a plugin, making the possibilities endless. Any plugins you do not like can be disabled, so KDE 3 purists can return it to command-launching-only status anytime they like. That is also useful on slower machines. With each release of KDE, however, Krunner will be even faster, with more awesome features to add the list.

*Note: These features are presented as they currently appear in KDE 4.3, scheduled to be released at the end of July 2009.

Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets.


  1. > Therefore, you only have to
    > type “kdesudo kate /etc/X11/xorg.conf”

    That is assuming kdesudo works, which it currently does not in Debian Sid:

    Does kdesudo work on other KDE4 distros, does anyone know?

  2. Cool features. Some you could say cross over each other but the spelling and conversion features are great.

  3. It’s useful, but I don’t know why they changed it from grid view to list view. Grid view is quicker to navigate with arrow keys or with mouse. And it also looks better.

  4. I actually prefer the list view, but I guess everyone has their own preference. Perhaps it is something that will be configurable in the future. As of 4.3 RC1, you can now scroll through the list, which is very necessary for long search results.

  5. I used to use Quicksilver on my mac, and the one thing I found most awesome about it is completely missing from KRunner: the ability to remember my favorite “hits” for a certain prefix. On my mac, I’d eventually just type “c” and return to open conkeror; most frequently used apps would thus have a single-letter shortcut, less frequent ones two-letter shortcuts etc. (Hoffmann coding? =P) Also, you could click on a hit to make it the preferred one.

    With KRunner, instead of it adapting to me, I have to adapt to it. Not good.

    1. thanks for your comment, I’m trying to switch to krunner from gnome-do,
      but the ability to remember the favorite ‘hit’ is the feature I really care,
      gnome-do has this feature, but it not rocks. however, I’d better stick to gnome-do.

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