Krunner is a very cool and powerful part of the KDE desktop that may hold tricks up its sleeve that you aren’t aware of. Since I’ve been using KDE, which is for about 10 years, there’s been the “krun” dialog that pops up when you press Alt+F2. Since KDE SC 4.x, the krun dialog was replaced by a more powerful version called krunner, which still starts with Alt+F2. The new krunner is more modular and allows developers to write new “runners” that can add to the functionality of krunner. Think of krunner as a launcher and swiss army knife of tools. Let’s have a look at what’s in the tool box.

Configure Krunner

When krunner starts you get a thin slit of a window, which doesn’t indicate it’s power. However, click on the spanner icon, and you’ll see the power that lies underneath. As you can see from the screenshot on the right, there are a large number of runners that provide krunner with its functionality. From simply launching applications, to search bookmarks, acting as a calculator, unit converter and currency converter and media player front end. You can activate and deactivate these runners from the configuration dialog. The other tab in the configuration dialog allows you to tweak the interface style of krunner. You can set the window to pop up in the middle of the screen, or at the top of the screen. You can also specify whether the interface is “task” or “command” oriented. Personally, I can’t see the point of the “task” oriented gui style. I much prefer the command style view.

The command oriented window:

The task oriented window:

As you can see, it is much easier to see the results and navigate them in the command style window – at least for me.

Using KRunner

Using krunner is pretty simple. Launch it by pressing Alt+F2. Then type what you’re looking for into the text entry box. A bunch of results start to show below the box as you type. Find the right one, and click it to launch the relevant application.

How To Use Runners

There are a wide array of runners installed by default by most distros. Most runners will work by just typing in words that you are searching for. However, some runners require keywords. For example, the calculator runner requires you to type = to indicate that you are about to do a calculation:

To find out what keywords are required for particular runners, click on the question mark icon to see a list of keywords and a description of what each runner does.