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Krunner: maximize your productivity in KDE’s Plasma Desktop

If you’re a KDE user, you’re probably familiar with Krunner, a launcher application. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a small popup window that appears at the top of your screen when you press “Alt+F2″, which is the default shortcut for it. Krunner allows Plasma Workspace users to perform a lot of simple as well as much complex tasks. So, if you are a KDE SC user, you must get familiar with this pretty awesome tool.

Most KDE users will use Krunner to open applications, such as a file manager. However, Krunner is so much more powerful than just running simple commands. Here I’ll present a couple of different ways you can use Krunner to make your KDE experience easier.

First of all, if you find the default keyboard shortcut to open Krunner awkward to use, you can change this shortcut by going into your system settings, navigating into “Shortcuts and Gestures”, selecting “Global Keyboard Shortcuts” on the side menu, and selecting “Run Command Interface” from the scrolldown menu. In the options that appear, click on “run command” and then choose the shortcut keys you want, just make sure they don’t conflict with other general keyboard shortcuts. I would leave it as it is. One lesser known fact is that you can also open Krunner by clicking on your desktop wallpaper and simply start typing.

Depending on which distribution you are using, you may have to install additional packages to get most out of krunner; some features of Krunner, such as the spell check and unit conversions, can only be used after installing addon packages. Systems like openSUSE seems to come with some of these packages pre-installed, but if you are running Debian based distros like Kubuntu then you may need to install the Krunner addons package. You can do this by running this in your command line utility (for Debian based systems):

sudo apt-get install plasma-runners-addons

krunner

When you open up Krunner, there’ll be a question mark to the right of the text box. Clicking it will bring up a menu that will list everything that Krunner will do. Clicking the wrench to the very left of the launcher will allow you to disable certain plugins, which may speed up your computer. The button next to the wrench will open up the system activity, similar to “Task Manager” in Windows. This can also be opened with the shortcut “Ctrl+Esc”.

1. Searching and opening files
Krunner can search for and open files or directories. Simply type the name of a file or directory, and if it’s a recent document, it will open it using the default application you have set. This only works for recently opened or edited files. If it is not, you can still open it by typing “file:” followed by the exact path of the file or directory. For example, to open a text file “text.txt” in the Documents directory, you input “file:/home/username/Documents/text.txt”. In order to expand the functionality of search through Krunner, you can configure Nepomuk search then you will be able to search files across your selected storage devices.

2. Run applications
Typing the name of an application into Krunner will prompt it to open it for you. If it does not find the application, it will prompt an install of the program.

3. Calculator and Unit Conversions
By default, Krunner has a calculator installed which can perform simple arithmetic, such as “6 * 14″. However, with the addons package installed, Krunner can perform unit conversions. For example, typing “400m to mi” will output “0.248549 miles”. This is very similar to Google’s built in calculator.

4. Dictionary and spell check
The dictionary ships with an unmodified Krunner, but the spell check requires the addon packages. You can search the dictionary for a word by first typing “define” and then the word afterwards. The trigger word for the spell check is “spell”, and Krunner will find the closest words to whatever comes after “spell”.

5. Web shortcuts
Web shortcuts are one of the most useful features of Krunner. First, you have to configure web shortcuts in your system settings. They are under the “Account Details”. Web shortcuts allow you to perform a search from Krunner, without opening up a browser. The default method for using this is first typing the website shortcut, followed by a colon, and then the search term. “gg:linux” will open a Google search for “linux”.

You can change the web-shortcuts depending on what you need.

You can change the web-shortcuts depending on what you need.

These are just a few features of Krunner. There are many others, especially with the installed plugins, that can improve your experience with KDE and make using KDE much easier and more efficient.

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Special thanks to KDE community

Alexander Chan

Alexander Chan is a technology enthusiast and very interested in biometrics.

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