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.

Choosing Fonts

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

Installing Fonts

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

Installing From Dolphin

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

Other Apps

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.

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. > MakeTakeEasier comes to the rescue again.
    This article doesn’t come to any rescue; its an overview of one control panel option.  A thorough overview, sure, but not like this area of KDE is scattered.  All recent KDE desktops that I’ve seen have had (IMHO) great font setups out of the box, you’re just showing us where to change them.  Maybe there isn’t a single doc like this because
    > KDE makes it incredibly easy to install and configure fonts
    Just sayin.

    1. If there’s no doc like this, it’s always good for there to be one somewhere on the web. You’re likely going to find at least someone who has no clue what to do. They’d rather see a clean-cut piece written than some random forum post on the Internet describing it in a garbled version of English. I say bravo, Tavis.

  2. So, you think everyone, even a new Linux user, knows that you can install the fonts from Dolphin or that there are two ways to do it? I think the fact that you said “IMHO” kind of sums it all up. You are not giving your humble opinion but rather an arrogant one (just sayin).

    You are, however, right in saying that KDE is easy. That is why I promote it, but to say that the article is an “overview of one control panel option” makes me think you might have stopped reading after the first paragraph. Choosing fonts, installing them, and alternatively installing them from within Dolphin or Font Viewer are three different options in four different locations.

  3. An excellent article, thank you. As for the sad no-mark losers commenting their garbage, stfu faggots

  4. i don’t think ubuntu is the best distro, but i mainly used it because good fonts, easy and readable, when fonts are not good, my eyes hurts after some short period of time sitting in front of monitor. at the moment im on fedora and i find this article very useful.. droid sans is nice font i must say.

Comments are closed.