Widgets on Linux: 5 Plasma Applets You Should Try Out

Austin Luong 23-05-2017

The Linux world above all else consists of lots and lots of choices. You can mix and match software to your liking, from things like file managers Which Linux File Browser Is More Productive: Nautilus or Dolphin? Wsers of competing desktop environments will notice that they're using different file managers -- an important part of desktop productivity. Surprisingly, there are a lot of things that can go right or wrong with a... Read More to your entire operating system The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More . The same applies to your desktop environment The 12 Best Linux Desktop Environments Choosing a Linux desktop environment can be difficult. Here are the best Linux desktop environments to consider. Read More , the bundle of software that you run your programs on.


This is especially the case with KDE’s Plasma desktop KDE Explained: A Look at Linux's Most Configurable Desktop Interface What does Linux look like? Sometimes, Unity; other times, GNOME. Oftentimes, though, Linux runs KDE. If you're not using the erstwhile K Desktop Environment on your Linux PC, now is the time to change! Read More . It’s built with lots of options for users to play with and is extremely flexible. You can even make it look like Windows or macOS Make Linux Look Like macOS With These Easy Tweaks If you like Linux but want it to look more like macOS, you're in luck! Here's how to make your Linux desktop look like macOS. Read More or anything in between. The applets and widgets built for this desktop further extend it.

Getting Plasma Add-Ons

The website serves as the host for many of KDE’s extensions, along with other content for different desktop environments. Plasma has a built in way of downloading them so you don’t need to worry about the finer details. It’ll also automatically extract How to Extract ISO Files With Linux How do you view an ISO disk image in Linux? Can you unpack ISOs in the terminal? Here's everything you need to know. Read More and install these downloads for ease of use.

kde opendesktop compressed

However, getting to it might be a little difficult at first since it’s rather hidden away. First, right click on an existing panel and select the Unlock Widgets option.

kde unlock widgets


This should reveal a settings menu on the panel. Click on it, then on the Add Widgets button that appears. You’ll be greeted with a menu on the side, full of your current Plasma extensions. At the very bottom, click on Get New Widgets > Download New Plasma Widgets.

kde get widgets

You’ll be greeted with a window that lets you search and install extensions. If you want, you can also look at screenshots and descriptions of them by clicking on the Details button of each add-on.

kde install widgets


Once you’ve downloaded your new applet, using it is a matter of going to the Add Widgets menu and dragging it anywhere on your desktop. Some of them can even be used in your system tray. All you have to do is its settings with a right-click and enable it from the Extra Items section.

kde system tray settings

1. Redshift Control

Traditionally, Linux users who want to protect their eyes at night use Redshift Redshift Keeps Your Eyes Sharp & Helps You Sleep [Linux] Read More (the alternative being F.lux Can F.lux and Night Shift Really Improve Your Sleep Habits? Excessive use of computers, tablets, and smartphones can lead to deteriorated sleep quality -- but do apps like F.lux and Night Shift really counteract those effects? The science is pretty clear on this. Read More ). For those who don’t know exactly what it does, it reddens your computer’s display during the night. This is meant to help you get a better night’s sleep even if you use your device before bedtime.

Redshift Control provides the Plasma desktop with an integrated way of controlling the app. It also gives you ways to change how Redshift behaves without manually editing its configuration file. What Are Config Files? How to Edit Them Safely Most apps are configured via menu options, and some require you to edit a config file. But how do you use a config file? Read More


plasma redshift settings

For example, you can choose how red you want your screen to be at night. Along with this, you can disable or enable smooth transitions of the color shifting. As you approach night time, your screen gradually changes until it reaches your specified redness.

It’s a useful alternative for those who want more than just a system tray icon. Or even just an easy way to tweak 4 Simple Tools for Tweaking Ubuntu's Look and Feel Do you like Ubuntu, but wish it behaved differently? Don't worry, there are a variety of ways to tweak Ubuntu to your liking. It's been a key criticism since the launch of Unity, that Ubuntu... Read More Redshift.

2. Active Window Control

If you’re using Plasma on a smaller screen Working on a Small Screen? Use These 6 Tips to Improve Your Productivity Laptops are great for getting things done on the go, but the small screens can be limiting. You can get more done with a few shortcuts, some useful apps, and good organization. Read More , then chances are you want to reduce as much space used by windows as possible. The Active Window Control applet is a great help in that regard. Using it allows you to put your window title bar into your regular panel, among other things.


plasma active window control

For example, it can also mimic macOS’s menu-bar look, by displaying an application menu next to the title. It has the added bonus of compressing even more space out, leaving more room for the actual program.

One caveat about this is that it only works for applications which support it. Software written in GTK+ How To Make GNOME Applications Look Like KDE Applications With Oxygen-GTK [Linux] Are you someone who'd like to use KDE but still keep the GNOME apps? The integration of those GNOME apps (which rely on a theme engine known as GTK) with KDE's appearance (where KDE uses... Read More won’t have their menus appear using Active Window Control, for example (the title bar will still work fine). This might change in the future however.

There are also many, many ways it can be configured. From the behavior and appearance of the controls, it’s all laid bare to the user if they so wish it.

plasma active window control settings

It can be easy to get a little lost in them, but with a bit of effort, you’ll have a menu that works exactly as you want it to.

3. Win7 Volume Mixer

There’s nothing wrong with Plasma’s regular volume applet. In fact, it works very well. However, if you don’t like how it looks, this applet might be for you. Win7 Volume Mixer, as the name suggests, is a spin Open Source Software and Forking: The Good, The Great and The Ugly Sometimes, the end-user benefits greatly from forks. Sometimes, the fork is done under a shroud of anger, hatred and animosity. Let's look at some examples. Read More of the default applet, styled similarly to Windows’ mixer.

plasma windows 7 volume

One of the nice things about it is that it shows all of the sound information in a single screen. Compare this to the native sound applet, which requires you to click to another tab to adjust application volumes. It makes accessing everything that much more convenient.

It also provides a useful feature that negates the need for Plasma’s native media controller Make Your Linux Music Experience Seamless With These Tools Want to control video and music playback remotely in Linux via your keyboard's dedicated media keys? How this works depends on your desktop, but there are plenty of options available. Read More . From the applet, you can adjust, play, and pause your media playback. In a way, it’s even better than both native volume and media applets combined. Everything is accessible in a single click.

4. Tiled Menu

The Plasma desktop comes with three different start menus already. One of them is a compact menu in the style of more classic Linux desktops. Another is a bit like GNOME’s menu Edit System Menu Items With Alacarte [Linux] When you think about it, our Linux desktop environments are pretty smart. Whereas Windows just creates a new folder for a newly installed program in the Start Menu, the Linux desktop environment automatically organize all... Read More , covering the whole screen. And the last one straddles a line between them. The Tiled Menu applet is unique in that it tries to emulate Windows 10’s Start Menu A Guide to the Windows 10 Start Menu Windows 10 fixes the Start Menu dilemma! Getting to grips with the new Start Menu will supercharge your Windows 10 experience. With this handy guide, you'll be an expert in no time. Read More .

plasma tiled menu

In a way, it fills out a niche between the other three menus, since, like the others, it does things a little differently. Favorite programs are pinned on the right as tiles for starters. Your folders for Documents, Music, and so on are also easily reached via shortcut buttons.

The menu also boasts two different view modes. You can either sort programs alphabetically (a la Windows) or in your regular Linux categories. It’s basically the best of both worlds.

5. Latte Dock

There are a number of macOS-like docks 5 Power Docks For Your Linux Machine Perhaps you've switched to Linux from macOS; or perhaps you just like the idea of a dock. Whichever it is, these five desktop docks for Linux will help you to improve your productivity. Read More out there for Linux. Latte Dock is special because it’s tailor made for the Plasma desktop. However, it can’t be installed like the other applets above, since it’s a fully fledged program that runs on its own. Instead, you use installation packages from their development website and open it as a regular program rather than as a Plasma extension.

plasma latte dock

Since it’s designed for Plasma, it’s also much better integrated. Latte Dock acts a lot like your regular system panels for example. As such, you can drag whatever applets you like into it, such as your recycling bin, start menu, or even volume mixers. It’s not just a program dock!

The higher amount of integration also means more subtle improvements, such as extra commands for your apps. For example, you can open up a new terminal tab from the right-click menu and manipulate your media player.

plasma latte dock context

Like most KDE applications, it also comes with plenty of features to adjust to your liking Tweak Your Own Custom Linux Distro with These Four Tools Linux offers a wealth of options for anyone wanting to tweak their operating system. You can also create your own distro, burn it to disc and install it. These four tools will get you started. Read More . Want a dock with a transparent background that hides itself when a window is over it? Latte Dock can do that.

Stretchy Plasma

There are plenty of other extensions to KDE’s desktop — this is just the beginning. Combined with how flexible Plasma is out of the box, you’re left with one of the most versatile desktop environments in the Linux world Distro Indecision: A Cheat's Guide to Choosing a Linux Distribution This guide is all about how to pick the right distribution, and how to test them before you actually commit to using it, arguably one of the most difficult steps in getting into Linux. Read More .

How do you style your desktop?

Explore more about: Linux Desktop Environment, Widgets.

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  1. Aditya
    May 25, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Which theme have you used on your desktop?

    • Armakuni
      May 26, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Looks like Breeze Dark, but I'm unsure about the transparency effects if it is really this style...

      • Austin Luong
        May 26, 2017 at 10:25 am

        It's Breeze Dark, yes. The transparency effect is only displayed in Latte Dock - the configuration window is like that, I suppose.