How to Configure Custom Shortcuts in KDE

Perhaps Mac users know this better than anyone else.  Shortcut keys do exactly what they say, give you shortcuts, saving you time. On my previous computer, my “C” key had worn off the keyboard because I spent so much time copying with “Ctrl-C” rather than going to the menu each time to select “copy”. Whether you are starting an application or cycling through virtual desktops, Linux users tend to love shortcut keys just as much.

In KDE, shortcut keys are customizable for each and every application, and you can also customize global shortcuts that affect the desktop, window manager, command interface, and other features. What follows is a brief guide to using KDE shortcuts, but first I am going to press “Ctrl-S” to save my work.

Global Shortcuts

keyboard shortcut system settings

1. To start the KDE shortcut configuration, find System Settings in the menu, or press “Alt-F2”, type “systemsettings“, and press enter.

2. Click “Keyboard & Mouse” in the Computer Administration section.

3. Click “Global Keyboard Shortcuts“.

4. Select the KDE component you wish to edit. For example, select “Run Command Interface” to edit Krunner settings.

5. Click on an action, and it will expand a section showing you the default shortcut and the option to make a custom one.

6. Select “Custom” and then click the button next to it.

7. It will then wait for you to press a key or keystroke combination. If the shortcut is already assigned, it will warn you about that. Otherwise, it will assign the new shortcut key.

8. Click Apply.

Application Shortcuts

keyboard shortcut eject2

Another handy shortcut feature of KDE is that you can assign shortcuts to an application or command. The example I am going to demonstrate solved a problem for me. I have a Mac Pro, but I Linux on it as my main OS. The CD-ROM/DVD drive has no button to open it. That is controlled by the keyboard, which worked fine when I used an Apple keyboard. When I got tired of the Apple keyboard and bought one I liked better, I needed to assign a key for opening the CD tray.

keyboard shortcut eject

1. Right click on the K-Menu icon on the panel.

2. Click “Menu Editor

3. Find the application you want to edit or click the “new” button to add a new command (For new commands, follow the normal procedures for adding a command to the menu).

4. Click the “Advanced” tab.

5. Where it says “Current shortcut key”, click the button next to it.

6. Enter the key combination you want.  For my eject command, I used “Fn-F10”.

7. Click “Save”.

Finally, whenever you are in a KDE application, you can assign shortcuts by doing the following:

1. In the application’s menu, click “Settings”.

2. Click “Configure Shortcuts”.

With application shortcuts, you have the option of assigning alternates so that two different shortcuts can execute an action. You can also assign a global shortcut to an application that will work even when another application has focus. For example, you can set media controls, such as volume, to be controlled even when you are not in KMix.  You can export any of your shortcut settings and import them on another computer, giving you the ultimate flexibility. Now press the shortcut to bookmark, and enjoy.


  1. Thanks! That worked like a charm on my Dell Studio 1558 with Kubuntu 10.04. My system is finally getting closer to usability I need :)

  2. Great! I didn’t know ho to assign an application to a key, and I have a few in my new XPS 15 laptop. That did it! Thxs dude!

  3. One day i was searching how to assign shortcut to an app, thx!

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