KRunner as Kickoff alternative, or KRunner-ish app. launcher

Hi everyone,

I was always a fan of the classic application launcher. Before switching to Linux, somewhere between Windows 7 and Windows 10, my workflow changed, and now I use application launchers for their search ability 95% of the time - type the first three letters or so of an app, hit enter, and there we are. The other 5% of the time is when I sometimes use the GUI buttons for power on/off, restarting, locking, etc., and rarely if I forget the name of a seldom used app, I’ll browse the useful categories.

KRunner has a much more powerful search, and more general utility, but I can’t set it to activate with the Meta key, which is a heavily ingrained habit at this point. I also find the top-of-screen and middle-of-the-screen options for its placement to be incredible annoying.

The screen real estate that the Kickoff launcher takes up is also immense, especially since the Favourites element can’t be removed entirely, or narrowed enough that you can just have a single vertical line of favourites. The alternatrive app launcher widget is more compact, but has worse graphical design, and still not a KRunner-level utility in its search.

There is a Search widget that can be put on the task bar, if you really want screen real estate efficiency, but again, it can’t be assigned to the Meta key, and its search also doesn’t have the power and utility of KRunner…

I propose being able to either set KRunner as a task bar widget you can put in the traditional lower left corner of app launchers, and make it able to be activated by the Meta key. When activates, the KRunner GUI will appear in your lower left corner (or by the place where you have placed the widget).
An even better option, in my opinion, would be to make a minimalist Kickoff/KRunner fusion. Call it Kickrunner?

I’ve made two very dirty mockups here, showing the state before searching, as well as showing the state of having typed something into the search field.

The Kickrunner with no input in the search field:

The Kickrunner with input in the search field:

What do you think?

There is a “Search” widget you can add to your panel which is basically KRunner in widget form. Then you can bind the Meta key to that.

Hi Nate!

No, as I mention in the (admittedly too verbose) post, the Search widget can’t be bound to the Meta key, and it is also less powerful, has fewer features and has less utility than KRunner. Besides that, you can’t attach the GUI power off, restart, etc. icons to it.

Ah, I missed it.

Indeed it doesn’t have power/session actions in it. But you should be able to bind any widget to the meta key directly now. We added that in Plasma 5.27 IIRC.

I’m on 5.27, but when I try to assign Meta (or any modifier key) as a hotkey, it expects me to press another key as well to make a hotkey combination. As soon as I release the Meta key without having also pressed an appropriate other key, the hotkey input field becomes empty again.

What I, personally, really miss from KRunner that neither the Search widget or the search field in Kickoff has is the history feature. As you can see in the mockup I made above, I have only pressed the “p” key on my keyboard, but it is autocompleted to “plasmashell --replace”, since that is stored in my KRunner history. Invaluable, saving me a lot of keypresses, and a lot of time.

You should be able to bound Meta in systemsettings - keyboard - shortcuts. It seems only working there, but not in the configure dialog of applets.

If that doesn’t work for you, you can also edit this line in ~/.config/kwinrc:


You can look up the name of the shortcut (Overview) in kglobalshortcutsrc.