Configuring the KDE 4 Panel

You can configure the KDE 4 Panel to alter how some aspects of how it looks and works. You can also add application and applet launchers, utilities and tools to the KDE Panel. Some of the utilities and tools you can add to your KDE Panel are simply fun and others allow you to control various aspects of your Desktop. You can also rearrange the items on your Panel to suite your own needs, placing each item exactly where you want it.

Although the KDE 4 Panel performs the same function as the KDE Panel in previous versions such as 3.5, it has been reworked significantly and so looks very different from previous versions. The methods and tools used to configure the KDE 4 Panel are also quite different from previous versions.

KDE 4.2.4 desktop with KDE Panel configuration and "Add Widget" window.

Figure 1: KDE 4.2.4 desktop with KDE Panel Configuration Menu and “Add Widget” window. The “More Settings” menu is also displayed on the right-hand side of the screen. Note that the “Add Widgets” menu is shown in the Task Bar.

The KDE Panel Configuration Menu

To access the KDE 4 Panel configuration menu, click on the “footprint” like icon on the very far right of the Panel. This icon is normally colored similarly to the background color of your desktop but changes to a gold color when the mouse pointer passes over it. Click on this icon to display the main KDE 4 Panel configuration menu which is the horizontal black bar with the slider bar and the sub-menu options, Screen Edge, Height, Add Widgets, Lock Widgets and More Settings.

In Figure 1, I have also clicked on Add Widgets and More Settings to show those sub-menus as well.

Moving the Panel

By default the KDE Panel is located at the bottom of your screen. You can easily move it to any one of the four edges of your screen. Simply click and hold on the Screen Edge button and drag with your  mouse to the edge of the screen on which you want the Panel to be located. When you have located the KDE Panel where you want it, release the mouse button.

Moving Objects on The Panel

While the KDE Panel configuration menu is open you can move objects about on the Panel. Point the mouse at the object you want to move and a four-way arrow pointer appears. Move the mouse left or right to reposition the object on the Panel. Note that despite the fact that the pointer has four arrows, it only allows you to move the objects horizontally left and right.

Sizing the Panel

The KDE Panel can be sized to fit the screen or to be a smaller size as well. The sliders in the slider bar can be moved to place the respective edges of the KDE Panel closer to the center of the screen thus making the Panel smaller.  The sliders can also be used to make it larger once it has been made smaller.

After resizing the panel to something smaller than the width of the display, you can use the More Settings sub-menu to determine whether to align the Panel left, right or centered.

The easiest way to maximize the Panel is to open the More Settings sub-menu and click on Maximize Panel.

You can also increase or decrease the height of the Panel. Click on the Height sub-menu and move the mouse vertically to increase or decrease the height. You may want yo increase the height if you have lots of desktop real estate and decrease it if you have a small desktop.

Adding Widgets

It is easy to add widgets to the Panel. Just click on the Add Widgets sub-menu and the Add Widgets widget is displayed. Choose the Widgets you want to add by clicking on them. After selecting the widgets you want to add — you can select multiple ones — press the Add Widget button at the bottom of the widget.

The new widgets appear on the panel. You can then use the Panel Configuration menu to move them to a more optimal location for your needs or taste.

Removing Widgets from the Panel

Removing widgets from the KDE Panel is easy. Right click on the widget and choose Remove this icon on the context menu. Depending upon the type of widget, the menu item might say instead of “icon”, System Tray, Device Notifier, Digital Clock, or whatever name is appropriate for the type of widget you are removing.

Closing the Configuration Menu

To close the KDE Panel configuration menu, click on the red X on the far right. You can also click anywhere on the desktop to close the KDE Panel configuration menu.

Application Launchers

You can also add application launchers to the KDE Panel. This is not accomplished through the KDE Panel configuration menu, however, it is done from the KDE Menu. See the page KDE 4 Menu for details.

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