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Configuring Programs

Philip Rodrigues

Application Configuration

KDE applications are intended to be as useful and usable as possible “out of the box”, but they also offer a wide range of options which you can change to make KDE work for you. As well as the settings which affect the whole of KDE (see Chapter�5, The KDE Control Center ), each application has a set of configuration options, which you can access using the menu option Settings -> Configure Application . This is the same for all KDE applications, which makes it easy to find the configuration dialog for an application.

On the left of the configuration dialog is a list of sections. Clicking on one of these sections displays the configuration page for that section on the right-hand side of the dialog. You can change these options to fit your preferences.

When you have made the changes you want, you can click on OK to save your changes and close the configuration dialog. If you want to see the effect of your changes, but not close the configuration dialog, click on the Apply button. This is useful if you aren't sure about the change you've made, and might want to change back, because the dialog is still open, ready for you to do so.

If you decide that you don't want to keep the changes you've made, just click Cancel to close the dialog without saving your changes.

Configuring Keyboard Shortcuts

Most KDE applications offer keyboard shortcuts for the main actions in the application. If you find that you don't like the default keyboard shortcuts, or that they conflict with the shortcuts of another application (maybe one that's not part of KDE), you can change them with the Settings -> Configure Shortcuts... menu entry. This brings up the Configure Shortcuts dialog for the application. As an example of how to use this dialog, let's add a shortcut for the Send Link Address... action to Konqueror, so that we can email the locations of interesting pages to friends just by hitting a key (or two):

  1. Open the Configure Shortcuts dialog in Konqueror, as described above.

  2. Click on the Send Link Address... item in the main listbox (it's near the bottom, in the Konqueror section).

  3. In the Shortcut for Selected Action panel, select Custom , since we are going to give this action a keyboard shortcut that we have chosen.

  4. A small shortcut entry dialog pops up. Just hit Ctrl + E (or whatever you want to change the shortcut to), and the dialog disappears. The “key” icon in the Configure Shortcuts dialog now shows the new shortcut.

  5. If you made a mistake, or change your mind about what to use as the shortcut, just click on the key icon showing the current shortcut. The shortcut entry dialog reappears, and you can press the key combination for the shortcut you want.

Configuring Notifications

Something about Settings -> Configure Notifications... .

Configuring Toolbars

Adriaan de Groot

Nearly every KDE application has one or more toolbars at the top of the application window, underneath the menu. The toolbar contains icons (toolbar buttons) that represent commonly used actions and configuration settings. The KMail window, for instance, has a toolbar that contains buttons for New Message, Check Mail and several others. Each of these actions is something you do often, so that's why they have toolbar buttons as well as menu entries (New Message is under Message -> New Message , Check Mail is File -> Check Mail ).

Not everybody agrees on what actions are commonly used, though, (I never use the New Message toolbar button or the menu item, I use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + N ). To ensure that your screen isn't cluttered with things you don't need, each toolbar can be customized. Additionally, you can usually customize which toolbars are displayed and how, as well.

Customizing Toolbar Displays

The easiest thing to customize with the toolbars of any given application is whether they are displayed at all. Most applications have a Settings -> Toolbars menu where you can select which toolbars are displayed and which are not. Konqueror has four toolbars, Main , Extra , Location and Bookmark . It can be convenient to turn off the Bookmark toolbar to save screen space. To do so, click on the Settings menu, choose Toolbars , and then uncheck the Bookmark Toolbar entry (do this just by clicking on the menu item).

If there is no Settings menu, you can also right click on the toolbar itself, and choose the Toolbars sub-menu from the resulting context menu.

The same Toolbar context menu, accessed by right clicking on the toolbar, allows you to customize other properties of the toolbar:

  • Its orientation, so that instead of appearing at the top of the window under the menu bar you can place it on the left, right or bottom of the window.

  • Its orientation, so that the toolbar “floats” as a separate window which you can move independently.

  • Its orientation, so that the toolbar is squashed into a little flat grip that you can re-open by double-clicking on it (this is subtly different from making the toolbar vanish completely, since it it easier to cause it to re-appear).

  • The appearance of text alongside, underneath, or instead of the icons on the toolbar.

  • The size of the icons (if they are not supplanted by text).

Customizing the Icons on the Toolbar

The toolbar is intended for actions that you perform often, so what do you do if there is some useless icon there, like Cut? Or what if you really want a cut button on the toolbar, but the application doesn't give you one? This is where the customize toolbars dialog comes in — it give you complete control over the actions that are available on each toolbar.

Choose Settings -> Configure Toolbars from the application's menu, or Configure Toolbars from the context menu of the toolbar itself. This displays the configure toolbars dialog, which consists of a combobox with which you can select which toolbar to customize, and two lists of items — one of the available actions, and one of the actions that are already in use on the toolbar.

Often there are many many more actions available ( activate tab #12, for instance) than you would ever want on the toolbar, or even that you know exist in the application. The customize toolbar dialog can be a learning experience. You can drag actions from one list box to the other, rearrange the items on the toolbar , or change the icon for a selected action. This allows you to drag the actions you don't want off of the toolbar and into the list of available actions; similarly, the actions you do want can be dragged into the toolbar. Clicking OK in the dialog immediately updates the toolbar with your new preferred actions.

There are a few special items that can end up in the listbox for the current toolbar:

  • separators, which exist in two flavors:

    • line separator appears as a line between two action icons

    • separator appears as a larger space between two action icons

  • <Merge> , which is a special item that allows plugins and other loadable components of the application to insert their actions into the toolbar as well. It is generally not a good idea to remove this, since you cannot get it back.

  • ActionList: , these appear in various flavors (there is a viewmode_toolbar one in Konqueror) and again these represent lists of actions that might be inserted by plugins.

Whenever you click on an action in the list of current actions, a description of it is shown in the dialog. This description will warn you if it is a bad idea to remove the action.

If you do not like to drag things around, there are four buttons in the middle of the dialog which allow you to move the selected action from one list to the other, and to move a selected current action up or down in the list. There must be a way to restore the default toolbars in an application, in order to recover from accidentally deleting an important action like <Merge> , but I don't know what it is.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire