1. Anatomy of the KDE Panel

The KDE Panel consists of several areas with which you should familiarize yourself. Each of these areas provides you with specific functions that allow you to launch and manage applications and tools.

Some of the icons on the KDE Panel in Figure 1 are called “launchers” because they launch the application programs that they represent. The folder with a house icon launches Konqueror in file management mode in your home directory. The Thunderbird and Firefox icons launch the Thunderbird email and Firefox web browser programs, respectively. The other icons launch programs like the printer controls and the KDE Control Center.

Annotated KDE Panel

Figure 1: This version of the KDE Panel is from Fedora Core 6 and contains several areas with which you should become familiar including the KDE Menu Icon, the Launchers,the Desktop Pager, the Task Bar, the Lock/Logout buttons and the Hide buttons.

Your KDE Panel will not look like that in Figure 1 when you start. Many of the launchers in Figure 1 have been added by me to make access to the programs they represent more convenient; all I have to do is single click on the launcher to launch that program. I also added the Lock/Logout buttons and renamed the desktops in the Desktop Pager section.

KDE Panel Main Components

As you can see in Figure 1, the KDE Panel contains multiple components. Each main component can be added or deleted from the panel along with individual application launchers and applets.

KDE Menu Icon

The KDE Menu Icon on the far left side of the KDE Panel is the starting point for launching programs, utilities and various folders and applets. Click on the KDE Menu Icon to launch programs. You can also add program launchers to the KDE Panel by right clicking on the icon representing the program, applet or folder and selecting “Add to Panel” from the pop-up context menu.

Desktop Pager

One of the neat features of KDE is multiple desktops. This feature of most Linux desktop environments, including Gnome and KDE allows you to have more than one simultaneous working desktop.

One reason for having multiple desktops is to reduce the clutter on any one desktop. I use multiple desktops when I am working on more than one project at a time with several windows open for each project. A single desktop can get very cluttered when one is working on multiple projects simultaneously so some option is needed to organize the programs, i.e., windows, for each project. Placing the program windows for each project on a separate desktop allows this type of organization.

The desktop pager allows switching easily between desktops. Click on the desktop you want to switch to and that is it.

See the document Multiple Desktops for information on configuration of the Desktop Pager.

Task Bar

The KDE Task Bar shows each running program and allows switching between programs. Just click on the button that represents the program you want to work with and it is brought to the foreground.

Multiple instances of the same program can be displayed separately or with a single button, and the task bar can also show all programs running on every desktop or only the ones for the current desktop. This depends upon how the Task Bar is configured.

System Tray

The System Tray contains icons for applications or applets that conveys some important information or allows easy access to one o more controls. For example the System Tray in Figure 1 contains the Lock/Logout button and the clipboard. Other things you might see there are the volume control, the status of the wired and wireless network connections if you have Network Manager and other system monitoring applets.

Hide Buttons

The Hide Buttons allow hiding the KDE Panel. Click one either the left or right Hide Button and the Panel slides to the left or right, respectively, until only the restore button is displayed. Click on the button to slide the panel back out.

This may be useful if you have a very small display and need the real estate for programs and can do without the KDE Panel for a time.

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