One of the best features of KDE is that it allows you to set up rules that define how an application window appears on the desktop. With those you can, for example, have a specific window always appear maximized on your primary desktop or send all the windows of another, not-so-important application, to your second monitor on a secondary virtual desktop. Learn how you can better manage your application windows in KDE.
We are using Kubuntu for this article. The steps will be the same for any distribution that runs KDE desktop.
Set Up Your Workspace
Since KDE, like most desktop environments in Linux, supports virtual desktops, it is best to use them to create a logical workflow for window organization.
Find the entry for Virtual Desktops. Type “desktops” or “virtual” in the search field to filter down the menu’s contents to it and run it.
Click on the button with the pencil icon on the single virtual desktop entry and give it a less generic name that will help differentiate it. We used “Primary.”
Add more virtual desktops, depending on how you want to organize your application windows, by using the “Add” button with the plus symbol on the top right. We added two more virtual desktops: one for keeping our task management, calendar, and notes, named “Organize,” and one for media-related applications we almost always have running that we creatively called “Media.”
As is the norm in Linux desktop environments, an applet will appear on your toolbar for jumping between the virtual desktops with a click.
Arranging the Application Window
In our case, Firefox consistently dominates our desktop, so we wanted to give it the utmost priority over everything else. We wanted it to always appear on our primary screen, on our primary desktop, fully maximized.
To create rules for any application in KDE, right-click on its title bar and select “More Actions -> Special Application Settings …” You can also create rules for specific windows by choosing the “Special Window Settings …” menu entry instead.
KDE will inform you about how useful the options are. Enable “Do not show this message again” to avoid having that window pestering you in the future and click OK. Move to the “Size & Position” tab.
To have a window cover the whole screen, enable both “Maximized horizontally” and “Maximized vertically,” and change when this should be applied in the “Apply Initially” drop-down menus next to them. Make sure “Yes,” right next to each drop-down menu, is enabled, or the rules will stay inactive.
Enable the “Desktop” rule and also change it to “Apply Initially.” Choose which virtual desktop you want the window to appear on from the last drop-down menu on this row.
If you want complete full-screen coverage, with the contents of a window covering even the desktop toolbar (like a maximized media player), use the “Fullscreen” rule.
Accept any changes by clicking on OK, close the application, and then re-run it to check out your new rules. In our case, Firefox’s “New Tab” blank page appeared, covering our whole screen.
Arranging the Rest
Theoretically, you can set up each windows’ position and size with pinpoint accuracy from the same spot. Revisit the same group of options, enable the “Position” and “Size” rules, change them to “Apply Initially,” and then enter the desired width and height and horizontal and vertical positions in pixels for your window.
It is great for placing windows on their own in specific spots but not for setups that combine multiple windows. We found ourselves fighting with pixels when we tried to arrange two windows side by side without them overlapping. There was no reason to spend time counting pixels for such a trivial problem when there’s a shortcut.
Instead of trying to define a window’s position and size with pixel-perfect accuracy, change the rules mode to “Remember” from the pull-down menu next to it.
Make sure to also change which virtual desktop you’d like each application to appear on.
With “Remember” enabled for the size and positioning rules, move the application’s windows wherever you wish them to appear, resize them to your desired size and then close them.
When you re-run the application, its windows will appear where you left them the last time.
By creating rules like those for the applications you use every day, you’ll have turned your by-default chaotic desktop into an organized workspace for your needs. Doing it for every single piece of software would be too time-consuming and achieve the opposite, as well as add to the complexity of using your desktop. However, creating around a dozen window-placement rules for the applications you use every single day can make a world of difference in how “clean” and organized your desktop feels.