KDE Customization Guide: Here are 11 Ways You Can Change the Look and Feel of Your KDE-Powered Linux Desktop

KDE Plasma desktop is unarguably the pinnacle of customization, as you can change almost anything you want. You can go to the extent of making it act as a tiling window manager.

KDE Plasma can confuse a beginner by the degree of customization it offers. As options tend to pile on top of options, the user starts getting lost.

To address that issue, I’ll show you the key points of KDE Plasma customization that you should be aware of. This is some

Kde Neon Neofetch

Customizing KDE Plasma

I have used KDE Neon in this tutorial, but you may follow it with any distribution that uses KDE Plasma desktop.

1. Plasma Widgets

Desktop widgets can add convenience to the user experience, as you can immediately access important items on the desktop.

Students and professionals nowadays are working with computers more than ever before, a useful widget can be sticky notes.

Right-click on the desktop and select “Add Widgets”.

Kde Neon Add Widgets

Choose the widget you like, and simply drag and drop it to the desktop.

Kde Neon Widgets

2. Desktop wallpaper

This one is too obvious. Changing the wallpaper to change the looks of your desktop.

1 Kde Neon Configure Desktop

At the wallpaper tab you can change more than just the wallpaper. From the “Layout” pulldown menu, you can select if your desktop will have icons or not.

The “Folder View” layout is named from the traditional desktop folder in your home directory, where you can access your desktop files. Thus, the “Folder View” option will retain the icons on the desktop.

If you select the “Desktop” layout, it will leave your desktop icon free and plain. However, you will still be able to access the desktop folder at the home directory.

2 Kde Neon Wallpaper

In Wallpaper Type, you can select if you want a wallpaper or not, to be still or to change and finally in Positioning, how it looks on your screen.

3. Mouse Actions

Each mouse button can be configured to one of the following actions:

  • Switch Desktop
  • Paste
  • Switch Window
  • Standard Menu
  • Application Launcher
  • Switch Activity

The right-click is set to Standard Menu, which is the menu when you right-click on the desktop. The contents of the menu can be changed by clicking on the settings icon next to it.

Kde Neon Mouse Actions

4. Location of your desktop content

This option is only available if you select the “Folder View” in the wallpaper tab. By default, the content shown on your desktop is what you have at the desktop folder at the home directory. The location tab gives you the option to change the content on your desktop, by selecting a different folder.

Kde customization

5. Desktop Icons

Here you can select how the icons will be arranged (horizontally or vertically), right or left, the sorting criteria and their size. If this is not enough, you have additional aesthetic features to explore.

Kde Neon Desktop Icons

6. Desktop Filters

Let’s be honest with ourselves! I believe every user ends up with a cluttered desktop at some point. If your desktop becomes messy and can’t find a file, you can apply a filter either by name or type and find what you need. Although, it’s better to make a good file housekeeping a habit!

Kde Neon Desktop Icons Filter

7. Application Dashboard

If you like the GNOME 3 application launcher, you may try the KDE application dashboard. All you have to do is to right click on the menu icon > Show Alternatives.

5 Kde Neon Show Alternatives

Click on “Application Dashboard”.

Kde Neon Application Dashboard

8. Window Manager Theme

Like you saw in Xfce customization tutorial, you can change the window manager theme independently in KDE as well. This way you can choose a different theme for the panel and a different theme for the window manager. If the preinstalled themes are not enough, you can download more.

Inspired from MX Linux Xfce edition though, I couldn’t resist to my favourite “Arc Dark”.

Navigate to Settings > Application Style > Window decorations > Theme

12 Kde Neon Window Manager

9. Global theme

As mentioned above, the look and feel of the KDE plasma panel can be configured from the Settings > Global theme tab. There isn’t a good number of themes preinstalled, but you can download a theme to suit your taste. The default Breeze Dark is an eye candy, though.

KDE Neon Global Theme

10. System Icons

The system icon style can have significant impact on how the desktop looks. Whichever is your choice, you should choose the dark icon version if your global theme is dark. The only difference lies on the icon text contrast, which is inverted to the panel colour to make it readable. You can easy access the icon tab at the system settings.

Kde Neon System Icons

11. System fonts

System fonts are not at the spotlight of customization, but if you spend half of your day in front of a screen can be one factor of the eye strain. Users with dyslexia will appreciate the OpenDyslexic font. My personal choice is the Ubuntu font, which not only I find aesthetically pleasing but also a good font to spend my day in front of a screen.

You can, of course, install more fonts on your Linux system by downloading them for external sources.

Changing fonts n KDE


KDE Plasma is one of the most flexible and customizable desktops available to the Linux community. Whether you are a tinkerer or not, KDE Plasma is a constantly evolving desktop environment with amazing modern features. The best part is that it can also manage on moderate system configurations.

Now I tried to make this guide beginner-friendly. Of course, there can be more advanced customization like that window switching animation. If you are aware of some, why not share it with us in the comment section?

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  • I use KDE Plasma exclusively since…….
    and for another reason besides customization: .raw file format preview in dolphin!
    It is a “golden” tool that completes darktable and gimp!

  • Sorry if I missed it but I can’t find this answer anywhere.

    Is there a way to link / associate specific apps, shortcuts, widgets to a given desktop or activity?

  • As much as I love KDE, there is one thing Gnome does, have individual workspace backgrounds. I think you can do it with KDE but it’s complicated, through actions and it didn’t work on my system – EndeavourOS.

  • So…okay, I am a newness lover. Lemme explain, Basically, cutting edge (or bleeding but usually still too buggy for my tastes) but I don’t mean new programs, apps, or drivers (which can be fun with the right card(s) installed), necessarily, but more specifically with the newest Plasma which right now is still the 25th anniversary one, and Abhishek, I shrieked with joy when you had made note of the brand new (at the time) 5.23 Plasma (and friends) and even showed us how to install it. Is it just me, or is it supposed to be more difficult than trying to put a halter-top on an alligator while in a phone booth? No, no: I don’t mean the install of Plasma, etc., but the finding of the files to download in the first place? I wanted 5.23.3 Sooo badly and I could NOT find it anywhere! Sorry for the yell…was that frustrated though. So now? Frame v88 is out and I am about to d/l it now…or die trying.
    TL;DR: But somebody mentioned compositors and Compiz only being avail. on X win sys/mgr whatever, sounding as if X11 was no longer available. But I have been using Kubuntu for a bit under 2 years, and AFAIK at least for much of that time, it has been the default wm, with the Wayland as the alt. out on the login page in one of the corners of the page. Anyway, did not know that you could d/l Compiz … I am assuming it replaces Compton? Anyway, I had a point but seem to have lost it. I wish I was kidding. Anyway, love the FOSS, love the It’s FOSS even more! Rock on!


    • Hello Michael,

      If you want the latest KDE, you should use KDE Neon. They will be the one getting it sooner than most distributions. Looking for specific desktop version and installing it is not always possible if it’s not packaged and provided by your distribution. Avoiding source code would be better because it may lead to issues.

      X11 is still available. Every distro is trying to switch to the newer Wayland but X is not going away for the next several years I think.