Many Linux users have a set of applications – browser, file manager, image viewer – that they’re loyal to. In most cases, these applications correspond to the default setup of a Linux distribution. If you’re a KDE user, you’ve probably heard of Konqueror. It’s a powerful application that has been a part of KDE for years, but it’s often unfairly neglected in favor of newer apps. Did you know you can use Konqueror not only as a file manager, but also as a web browser, PDF viewer and document editor?
If this sounds interesting, you can install Konqueror from the repositories of Ubuntu, Debian, Arch and other distributions, or from the source. Note that you’ll have to install many packages as Konqueror’s dependencies if you don’t already have KDE on your system. I recommend you also install a package called “konq-plugins” which contains browser extensions.
Using Konqueror as a Web Browser
Here you can organize bookmarks, check their status, update favicons and export bookmarks as an XML file. You can also one-click-bookmark all currently opened tabs and open multiple bookmarks at once. There’s also the Session Manager (“File -> Sessions -> Manage”) that lets you load a set of tabs the next time you use Konqueror.
The UserAgent Changer extension can modify Konqueror’s identification – it can “pretend” to be a different browser. The “Web Browsing” section in the Configure Konqueror dialog lets you enable Do Not Track headers as a part of browser identification. The only essential thing that Konqueror lacks is private browsing, but other features make up for it.
Split View is one such feature. Accessed via the Window menu or with keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+Shift+L to split vertically, Ctrl+Shift+T horizontally), Split View divides the active tab into as many small frames as you want. You can open new links in separate frames to preview multiple websites at the same time.
The list of cool features doesn’t stop here. Konqueror supports Smart Shortcuts, which can be enabled under “Configure Konqueror -> Web Browsing -> Web Shortcuts.” Use the default shortcuts or write your own. They function as an alias for the full URL of a website, thus saving time and keystrokes. For example, to search for animals on Wikipedia, you would simply type “wp: animals” into the address bar instead of visiting the Wikipedia page.
Another handy tool is the “Enable Access Key activation with Ctrl” option which you can enable under “Configure Konqueror -> Web Browsing.” This is also known as mouseless browsing. Pressing Ctrl while on a website will activate the Access Key, and symbols will appear next to links. To open those links, press the designated symbol(s) – usually numbers and case-sensitive letters. To deactivate this, hit Ctrl again.
Konqueror lets you save web pages for offline viewing thanks to the Web Archiver extension. This option, accessed from “Tools -> Archive Web Page” menu, exports a web page into a .war file which you can later open in Konqueror.
File Management and Beyond
Speaking of file opening, Konqueror can handle several filetypes – you can use it to open PDF files, edit text documents, preview and even convert between basic image formats (JPG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, BMP). It can also display Linux
man pages in a nice, readable format; just type
man:/[name] into the address bar.
Konqueror’s versatility is made possible by KParts, a KDE component framework that’s used to manage file types or embed applications into one another. Technically, any KDE application that supports KParts can be embedded into Konqueror, meaning that Konqueror can “take over” its functionality. This is how Konqueror works as a file manager – it embeds Dolphin and offers all its features. Users switching from Dolphin will surely appreciate this.
All service menus from Dolphin will be available in Konqueror when you use it in file manager mode. To switch to this mode, simply open a folder in Konqueror. You can customize toolbars and save view profiles (with Detailed List View, big icons or split tabs …) for different purposes. The File Associations dialog is somewhat advanced and lets you define how Konqueror handles various file types.
The sidebar is toggled by pressing F9, and it can show multiple sections at once (for example, Bookmarks and Root Folder). Konqueror also has a spellchecker and an option to create a HTML image gallery from all or selected images in a folder. It’s possible to use it as an FTP client; for other use cases and advice, consult the official handbook that explains Konqueror in great detail and is perfect for beginners and people new to KDE.
Konqueror’s power derives from the convenience and seamless integration of features that would otherwise require opening several applications. True, you need to have Okular, Dolphin and other apps installed if you want to use Konqueror as anything other than a browser, so some people might consider this embedding as “cheating” or even “useless.” On the other hand, it’s extremely practical when working with multiple files since you can view them all in one window or quickly switch between tabs. Konqueror can act as a container for other apps and eliminate clutter from your workflow, and you can always go back to using it as a lighweight web browser.
What’s your opinion of Konqueror? Have you ever used it? Let us know in the comments.