KDE’s Plasma is easily one of the most powerful desktop environments available for Linux. It’s highly configurable, and it looks pretty good, too. That doesn’t amount to a whole lot unless you can actually get things done.
You can easily configure Plasma and make use of a lot of its convenient and time-saving features to boost your productivity and have a desktop that empowers you, rather than getting in your way.
These tips aren’t in any particular order, so you don’t need to prioritize. Pick the ones that best fit your workflow.
1. Multimedia Controls
This isn’t so much of a tip as it is something that’s good to keep in mind. Plasma keeps multimedia controls everywhere. You don’t need to open your media player every time you need to pause, resume, or skip a song; you can mouse over the minimized window or even control it via the lock screen. There’s no need to scramble to log in to change a song or because you forgot to pause one.
KRunner is an often under-appreciated feature of the Plasma desktop. Most people are used to digging through the application launcher menu to find the program that they’re looking to launch. That’s not necessary with KRunner.
To use KRunner, make sure that your focus is on the desktop itself. (Click on it instead of a window.) Then, start typing the name of the program that you want. KRunner will automatically drop down from the top of your screen with suggestions. Click or press Enter on the one you’re looking for. It’s much faster than remembering which category your program is under.
3. Jump Lists
Jump lists are a fairly recent addition to the Plasma desktop. They allow you to launch an application directly to a specific section or feature.
So if you have a launcher on a menu bar, you can right-click and get a list of places to jump to. Select where you want to go, and you’re off.
4. KDE Connect
KDE Connect is a massive help if you have an Android phone. It connects the phone to your desktop so you can share things seamlessly between the devices.
With KDE Connect, you can see your Android device’s notification on your desktop in real time. It also enables you to send and receive text messages from Plasma without ever picking up your phone.
KDE Connect also lets you send files and share web pages between your phone and your computer. You can easily move from one device to the other without a lot of hassle or losing your train of thought.
5. Plasma Vaults
Plasma Vaults are another new addition to the Plasma desktop. They are KDE’s simple solution to encrypted files and folders. If you don’t work with encrypted files, this one won’t really save you any time. If you do, though, vaults are a much simpler approach.
Plasma Vaults let you create encrypted directories as a regular user without root and manage them from your task bar. You can mount and unmount the directories on the fly without the need for external programs or additional privileges.
6. Pager Widget
Configure your desktop with the pager widget. It allows you to easily access three additional workspaces for even more screen room.
Add the widget to your menu bar, and you can slide between multiple workspaces. These are all the size of your screen, so you gain multiple times the total screen space. That lets you lay out more windows without getting confused by a minimized mess or disorganization.
7. Create a Dock
Plasma is known for its flexibility and the room it allows for configuration. Use that to your advantage. If you have programs that you’re always using, consider setting up an OS X style dock with your most used applications. You’ll be able to get them with a single click rather than going through a menu or typing in their name.
8. Add a File Tree to Dolphin
It’s much easier to navigate folders in a directory tree. Dolphin, Plasma’s default file manager, has built-in functionality to display a directory listing in the form of a tree on the side of the folder window.
To enable the directory tree, click on the “Control” tab, then “Configure Dolphin,” “View Modes,” and “Details.” Finally, select “Expandable Folders.”
Remember that these tips are just tips. Don’t try to force yourself to do something that’s getting in your way. You may hate using file trees in Dolphin. You may never use Pager. That’s alright. There may even be something that you personally like that’s not listed here. Do what works for you. That said, at least a few of these should shave some serious time out of your work day.