Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

December 28, 2009

How to set different backgrounds for each desktop in KDE4

Filed under: Knowledgebase,Linux/Unix Related — Suramya @ 11:52 PM

As some of you know, linux allows you to have different virtual desktop when using either KDE or Gnome (I haven’t really used any of the other environments). Which is quite useful when you are working on a lot of things and want to reduce the clutter on the screen. I usually separate the windows by task type and then put each task in its own desktop. Makes it easier to work.

In KDE3.5 you could have different background image for each of the virtual desktop which made it easier to identify what desktop you were on currently. In KDE4 that functionality was initially missing for some reason. (Probably because it had to be coded in). Now in KDE4.3 (Maybe 4.2 also. Not sure) this functionality is available again though its not as easy to find as it was in KDE 3.5.

To configure it follow these steps:

  • Click on the desktop cashew located at the top right corner of the screen.
  • Click on ‘Zoom out’ in the drop down menu
  • Choose “Configure Plasma” from the toolbox that appears on the top right corner of the screen
  • In the screen that comes up check the “Use a separate dashboard” option.
  • Check the “Use Different activity for each desktop” option
  • Click on OK
  • Click on the magnifying glass at the bottom of the applets to zoom back into the desktop
  • Now you will be able choose individual backgrounds for each desktop by Right click on the desktop and clicking on ‘Desktop Settings’ . After that change the background like you usually do. But now this background will only be applied to the current desktop and you can repeat this process on another desktop to choose another background for it.

    Thanks to for the nudge in the right direction.

    Hope this helps.

    Update (12th Jan 2010): Added one step that I had forgotten to include earlier. Thanks to Sebastian for pointing that out.

    Update (19th Sep 2011): These steps no longer work for KDE 4.6.5. New instructions are at: How to set different backgrounds for each desktop in KDE 4.6.5

    – Suramya


    1. Thanks for this help, but I had to check the “different activity for each desktop” option, too.

      Comment by Sebastian — January 12, 2010 @ 6:29 PM

    2. Oops. Forgot to include that in my post. I have included it in the instructions. Thanks for pointing that out.

      – Suramya

      Comment by Suramya — January 12, 2010 @ 8:00 PM

    3. Thanks!

      I was a bit frustrated with KDE4 for making something that used to be straightforward so difficult. There’s no way I would have been able to figure out how to do this on my own. Because I normally run different programs on the the different desktops, it is important for me to quickly identify on which desktop I am currently.

      Thanks again

      Comment by Chavoux — July 22, 2010 @ 1:18 PM

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