March 8, 2012

300 words 2 mins read

KDE: “Windows Key” to open Kickoff Launcher

When I installed Linux Mint 12 KDE, as with anytime I install an operating system (except OS X, since you don’t get choices), I had to make a few small modifications before I got up and running. I start with the applications I want to have installed and to turn off tap-to-click. One of the other tasks under Linux is to set a few key bindings that I’m in a habit of using from Windows.

There really are only 3 “critical” key bindings for me. Windows+R for run, Windows+M for minimize all applications, and just Windows Key to open the launcher/start menu. The first two are easy if you go into “Global Keyboard Shortcuts”. Under “Run Command Interface” you’ll find ‘Run Command’. Under “KWin” you’ll find a ‘Show Desktop’ entry which is the equivalent of minimize all. With those two done it’s on to just the Windows key.

Unfortunately, this isn’t quite as easy since there is one catch with how Linux/KDE/QT/etc are setup. The “Windows Key” (as I call it), more properly known as the “meta key”, is simply a modifier (like Shift, Ctrl, & Alt) and not a key in its own right. This means that you cannot, without some lower level file hacking, stab the Windows Key alone and get it to open the launcher.

I’m not going to bother doing the hacks since inevitably they will get nuked by some upgrade so I’m going to try and relearn my habits slightly. I’ve mapped Windows+Space (or Meta+Spacebar) to open the KDE Launcher (known as kick off). This is not in the standard Keyboard Shortcut applications.

  • Right click on Kickoff (the KDE icon in the bottom left of your screen)
  • Click “Application Launcher Settings”
  • Select “Keyboard Shortcuts”
  • Click the button and press your desired shortcut key combo
  • Done!