Enable Multiple Desktops (workspaces) in KDE

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What is a KDE desktop? Why do I need more than one?

Desktops are virtual workspaces on your computer screen. For example, right now your desktop consists of:

  • a WWW browser window in which you are viewing this page
  • the Taskbar, or 'kicker panel,' usually along the bottom of your screen with the MEPIS KMenu icon in the lower left corner
  • the background or wallpaper behind the browser window, plus any icons you have displayed on top of the wallpaper.

Maybe you have a few other windows open, too. Of course you can minimize windows to put them out of your way temporarily, but if you have several open, the kicker panel can get pretty crowded and confusing.

When you enable multiple desktops, you get more workspaces just like the one you're using now. Rather than overcrowd one desktop with too many unrelated windows, distinctly different tasks can be put on different desktops, keeping things efficiently organized and instantly accessible. For example Desktop 1 can have an open web browser, while desktop 2 can have Quanta+, an html/website-development program, running, Desktop 3 can have The GIMP open, to edit images that will be going into the web pages you're designing on Desktop 2.

You can find your own uses for your multiple desktops. Right now let's harness the power of MEPIS Linux and KDE to get some more desktops set up!

Enable Multiple Desktops

  1. Right-click on an empty spot on your current desktop background. From the menu choose Configure Desktop. For Mepis 8.5 use System Settings --> Display --> Multiple Desktops --> Number of desktops. Click the arrows to the right until you have the number of Desktops you want.
  2. In the Configure KDesktop window choose Multiple Desktops.
  3. Move the slider or click up the selector arrows at the top to set Number of desktops.
  4. For now, choose 4 and leave "Mouse wheel over desktop background switches desktop" unchecked. You can come back to change these options anytime.
  5. Click Apply and OK.

Enable Desktop Preview and Pager

  1. Right-click an empty spot on your kicker panel at the bottom of the screen and choose Add Applet to Panel.
  2. Find and click Desktop Preview and Pager.

Near the centre of your kicker panel you should now have four numbered boxes. This is the handy "control panel" you can use to switch from one desktop to another.

In order to customize further options available for your desktops, continue through the next section.

Taskbar Options

  1. Right-click an empty spot on your kicker panel at the bottom of the screen and choose Configure Panel.
  2. In the Configure KDE Panel window choose Taskbar
  3. Of the many helpful Taskbar options, the one we want right now is to uncheck the Show windows from all desktops option near the top.
  4. Click Apply and OK.

Since our object in this guide is to unclutter the Taskbar, we only want the minimized windows that belong to the current desktop to be visible. Later, if it would be more useful, you can come back and checkmark this option. Then all windows from all desktops will appear in the taskbar/kicker panel at all times.


Other Desktop Options

  1. Right-click on an empty spot on your current desktop background. From the menu choose Configure Desktop.
  2. In the Configure KDesktop window choose Background

Here, by using the Setting for desktop: drop-down menu (A) and the Background Picture radio button together with the file browser drop-down (B), you can have the same background wallpaper for all desktops, or choose a different wallpaper for each one!

Putting it all together

By default MEPIS boots KDE into Desktop 1. You can open a number of programs in Desktop 1, then switch to Desktop 2 by clicking on the 2 in the Desktop Pager square in the centre of the Taskbar at the bottom of your screen. Now you have a completely clean desktop to start work on another project without disturbing the windows on Desktop 1. Anytime you want to, you can click to go back to Desktop 1 and find everything as you left it.

Now that you know the basics of multiple desktops, you can configure and customize in whatever ways best suit your working style.


This guide is for the KDE desktop only. If you are running Beryl as your Desktop Manager, you will not be able to use this KDE multiple desktop feature.

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