Utilizing The Deskbar Applet to Make Your Life Easier

One of the overlooked feature in Ubuntu Gutsy is the deskbar-applet found on the top panel. Being one of the best desktop search tool around, I am quite surprised that only few are fully utilizing it. The only reason that I can think of is either most people don’t know how to use it, or they don’t realize how powerful it is

What can you do with deskbar-applet?

Basically, you can do anything you want it to do. On a nutshell, it allows you to

  • search for files/folder in your system
  • look up words in Wikipedia, dictionary
  • perform search in Google and Yahoo
  • open a web address
  • send email
  • search for product in Ebay, Amazon
  • search del.icio.us bookmarks
  • launch program
  • shutdown/restart your computer
  • and many more…

If you are a Python developer, you can even write your own extension to get it to perform whatever tasks you want.

Configuring your deskbar-applet

Configuration is easy. Right click on the orange icon and select Preferences. Place a check on the features that you wanted.


Performing a search

Click on the orange deskbar-applet icon. A search bar will launch. Type in whatever terms you want to search. If you are looking for a previously searched result, just click the History dropdown bar to show your past result.


If you want to go to a particular web address, enter the url (for example: https://www.url.com) on the search bar and select “Open http://www.url.com” under Web section.


To send a email, type in your recipient’s email address and select “Send email to …”. A mail compose window will pop up where you can compose and send your email.


To open up a program, type the name of the program and select launch program. The deskbar applet also has the ability to match keyword with certain programs. For example, when I enter “music”, it provides me with a choice to launch any of my music player.


Some other useful extensions

  • perform calculation and conversion

This extension allows you to do a simple and quick calculation or unit conversion.


To enable this extension, download the file, copy it to “/home/username/.gnome2/deskbar-applet/modules-2.20-compatible”. Activate the extension in the “Preference”. The converter module require the units library to be installed. You can easily achieve that by

sudo apt-get install units
  • remember the milk

You can also use the deskbar-applet to create/delete/update your tasks in Remember The Milk. Download the file and extract it to the deskbar-applet module folder. Activate it in the Preference and you are ready to go.

Some of the other interesting extensions found in the GNOME Live include

  • Google suggest
  • Wikipedia suggest
  • Gajim
  • ekiga

I have not tried them though. If you have tried it, do let me know if it is useful.


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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