Personalizing KDE 4.4

Jack Wallen
Feb 17, 2010
Updated • Feb 15, 2018

Sticking with our KDE theme this week, it's time to learn how to make KDE 4.4 yours. You've downloaded it, you've used it, and now you want to personalize it.

You might find things are  a bit different than the KDEs of yore (especially if you're just coming into KDE from 3.5). But no matter what release you're coming from, it's always good to know where and how to configure the look and feel of your desktop.

In this article I am going to show you how to make KDE 4.4 look and feel just the way you want it to. We won't bother getting into setting up Compiz, this is just straight up KDE goodness. Nor will we discuss the installation of KDE - I will assume that is already complete.

Where to start?

Figure 1

The first thing you will want to know is where to start. Sometimes when a new iteration of a desktop is released things are relocated.  So where exactly can you find the appearance settings for KDE 4.4? There are a couple of places you need to look.

The first place is for the desktop wallpaper. If you right-click on the desktop you won't find a "Change Background" or "Desktop Settings" menu entry any more. What you will find, by default, is a "Desktop Activity Settings" menu. Remember, KDE 4.4 is now working with Activities (we'll cover that soon).  By selecting that option you will open up a new window (see Figure 1) that allows you to set up your desktop wallpaper.

In this new window you can not only select (and configure) an image you have on your machine, you can also download new images by selecting the Get New Wallpapers button. When you try to download new wallpaper, make sure you give a chance for all the wallpaper to actually download.

Figure 2

The next step is to configure the Appearance of your desktop. To do this click Start > Computer > System Settings and then click on the Appearance button. When this new section is open (see Figure 2)  you will see plenty of familiar options to configure. All of these are fairly self explanatory. One that you might want to immediately check out is the Workspace tab. This is where you can select and download new themes.

Download new themes by clicking the Get New Themes button. A word of caution: Chose your themes wisely. I have installed a theme only to have it fubar my desktop and have to kill my X Server and start all over. Not fun.

You might also want to click on the Fine Tuning tab. Here you can better tune your effects to your machine. The Graphical Effects dropdown lets you select a High/Low combination for resolution and CPU.

Figure 3

Finally if you go back to the Overview in the System Settings window, click on the Desktop icon. In this window (see Figure 3) you can configure functional aspects of your desktop.

Most of this window is fairly self explanatory. Unless you are an advanced user, I wouldn't bother with the Advanced tab. This tab deals with compositing and OpenGL. Generally the defaults will be all you need from that tab.

Finally you will want to go back to the Overview (in the System Settings window) and click on the Window Behavior  section. Here you configure how your windows react to specific inputs.

Figure 4

The Window Behavior tab (see Figure 4) is where you will find some of the more helpful settings (such as focus model and auto raise).

Another really cool setting is the Window-Specific section. That particular topic is worth it's own article - because it is incredibly handy (and cool).

Final thoughts

As you can see, KDE has developed into a highly-configurable desktop that is now as stable as it's competition. You can play around with personalization settings for days and still have room to play.

Personalizing KDE 4.4
Article Name
Personalizing KDE 4.4
In this article I am going to show you how to make KDE 4.4 look and feel just the way you want it to. We won't bother getting into setting up Compiz, this is just straight up KDE goodness
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  1. av Echelon said on February 18, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    KDE4 in my opinion is all looks. It never delivers good and clean performance for me and that’s whats held me back from using KDE as my main desktop environment ever since KDE4 came out.
    Seeing the direction Gnome is going in, I will most definitley be switching to KDE in the near future. =P XD

  2. Dotan Cohen said on February 18, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Thanks. It seems as though KDE 4 is not as configurable as KDE 3. Why is that?

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