How to Get The Most Out Of KDE4’s Folderview Widget

One of the most innovative and simultaneously controversial features of KDE 4 is the Plasma widget, Folderview. Simply put, it allows a user to display the contents of a file system folder within a widget on the desktop.

Beyond just displaying files on your computer, Folderview can be used to launch applications, display remote file systems, filter large folders for particular types of files, or serve as a traditional desktop.

Application Launcher

Folderview is a great way to display icons of the applications you use most on the desktop, in an organized fashion. Instead of having them mixed in with documents, shortcuts, and various other icons like on traditional desktops, they can be in their own box. I prefer to have mine in a long rectangle stretched across the length of my panel. Here is how to do it:

1. Create a new Folderview widget by right clicking on the desktop and unlocking your widgets (if necessary). Then, click “Add widgets”. Another easy way to create a Folderview is to simply drag an existing folder to the desktop.

folderview add-widgets

2. Find the Folderview widget and drag it onto the desktop wherever you want it to be. You can also resize it however you like. Even if you want it very small, a scroll bar will appear if there is more than one icon.

3. It will have most likely displayed your desktop files by default. So, you will need to change the location. Right click on the Folderview titlebar and click “Folderview settings”.

4. From the settings, you can “specify a folder”. Instead of choosing a folder you already have, create a new one called “Apps” or “Applications”. Click “OK”.

folderview apps

5. Now, to get application icons into your Folderview, all you have to do is drag icons from your K-menu. It will ask you to copy or link. Click “copy”. You can also open Dolphin and go to “programs:/”. This will list all of the programs in your menu. You can then drag them to Folderview.

The names of the application icons will have the “.desktop” extension. If you find this unsightly, as I did, simply rename the files, deleting the “.desktop”. You are then left with a nice, neat, desktop application launcher.

Remote File Systems

Nearly all KDE applications can utilize its kio-slave technology, and Plasma is no exception. With it, you can seamlessly connect to other computers with FTP, SSH, and Samba. To connect to an FTP server, you simply type:

For a secure connection, use sftp instead of ftp. For Samba, use smb.

To use this feature in Folderview in order to have an open connection to a remote computer visible on your desktop, just edit the Folderview settings and specify the URL.

Filtering Folders

Suppose you have a folder filled with documents, but you only want OpenDocument Text (.odt) files to be visible. It is easy with Folderview:

1. Open the Folderview setings

2. Click “Filter”

3. Click “Show Files Matching” from the drop-down menu.

4. Click on the file types of your choice.

You can also use this to exclude certain file types by selecting “Hide Files Matching” from the drop-down menu.

Traditional Desktop


If you prefer to have a traditional desktop as found in KDE 3, Gnome, Windows, and Mac OS X, Folderview can help with that too.

1. Right click on the desktop.

2. Click “Appearance Settings”.

3. The first drop-down menu says “Type” next to it. Click it and change it from “Desktop” to “Folder View”.

After you click OK, the Folderview will have expanded over the entire desktop and will behave like it did in KDE 3.

The uses and features of Folderview are only limited by the uses and features of KDE. As KDE 4 continues to mature, Folderview will continue to grow into a useful and powerful desktop tool.

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.

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