So the developers excluded toolbars from activities and they are uniform among all activities. A lot was written about how they practically killed the idea of activities.

But is there any workaround what so ever? Like to make a different content of the tool bar for each activity or some grouping widgets (Quick Launcher, Folder View, etc.), which would be able to have different content for each activity?

BTW, for someone who knows KDE API and ways, it should be a job for a half an hour max, to adjust Quick Launcher and Folder View to have it's content Activity-dependent. Unfortunately, I only develop in .NET...

  • You could maybe file a feature request at bugs.kde.org.
    – DK Bose
    Feb 28, 2020 at 3:37
  • That has been done, as far as my little research revealed. Developers turned it down. I didn't see the bug request itself, but number of angry posts and comments about it over various KDE-related internet discussions. Feb 28, 2020 at 7:22

1 Answer 1


Well, so there was no response and I had to find at least partial solution myself.

So here is my advice to bring Activities at least partially to life (might be used as a complex settings or standalone tips):

  1. Set desktops quantity to 1. It's not necessary, but with following settings each activity will have it's own desktop, so they practically multiply.

  2. Place a Activity Preview widget into your toolbar. Also, this is not necessary, but if you're going to use Activities heavily, the WIN-TAB shortcut with following clicking is quite awkward. With the Activity Preview widget, you can switch Activity with 1 click.

  3. Set the activities (i.e. WIN-TAB, click the options button at the top):

    a. Set required number of "fixed" Activities, perhaps with appropriate icons. Activities can be also project or task related, but I'm concerned about the long term Activities, that share their workflow. To give you an idea, I set:

      * General (for all common tasks without specific workflow)
      * Admin - for administration - with YaST, KDE system settings, SuperUser 
        Dolphin, Kate, KInfo, nVidia shortcuts
      * Graphics - to work mostly with GIMP and InkScape
      * CAD - for 2D and 3D CAD work - LibreCAD and FreeCAD shortcuts
      * Devel - for programming
      * Web - for web development (shortcut to start Jekyll, shortcut to emulated 
        web, etc.
      * Writing - to work with Focus Writer, dictionary, ...

    b. On the 2nd tab called "Switching" check the checkbox "Remember the current virtual desktop for each activity (needs restart)". Now I'm not sure if this option is still required, when you set your desktop count to 1, but it doesn't do any harm anyway.

  4. I created a directory for Activities in my custom local Sys folder (~/Sys/Activities) and for each activity with standalone shortcut list another sub-directory, i.e. Admin, Graphics, CAD,... I then opened the directories one by one and dragged there shortcuts from the launcher in my panel and renamed them to more reasonable names (i.e. "org.kde.cervisia.desktop" to "Cervisia").

  5. For EACH activity desktop, I threw into the desktop one or two widgets called Folder View and set them this way:

    a. If I used only one, I would set the Folder View widget to point to a working directory of the activity, i.e. ~/Writing, where I have both the application shortcuts and the files. That is good for simple activities, such as the writing.

    b. First of standalone Folder View is set to the particular folder created in 4th step. This way you see shortcuts for the Activity you have selected.

    c. Second of standalone widgets on the desktop is one to show files and folders related to the activity, i.e. ~/Coding for Devel Activity or~/Graphics for Graphics Activity. Organise a special directory and help yourself with Symlinks, if you have the work directories scattered over more places, such as local and network.

  6. For some applications you may set special behaviour on starting, let's say that you might want GIMP to always start in Graphics Activity only. Then start GIMP, right click the title bar, choose Other Tasks and then Special window settings and in the Size and location tab, check the Activity checkbox and select Initial status from the next combobox. But be careful not to set it to apps, that you expect to use across activities, such as Dolphin or Konsole. However, the settings above allows you to change the activities after you start the application, so you can switch activity or add it to more activities (right-click app title bar and select activities in local menu)

  7. You should set the working directory mentioned before as Activities related directory. Find the directory in Dolphin, select it's content, right-click it and select Activities and add it to current Activity or select one (or more) from the list. That is required for following point

  8. There's a way to set at least partially the task bar to reflect Activities. I use for it a large side bar popping out of right edge of screen (whilst the main task bar is at the classic bottom edge position. I have on this task bar some widgets like clock and calendar and you can also add another Folder View here, this time set it to Show files related to active Activity. Now, if you have set your files and application shortcuts in appropriate working directories to particular activities, the content of this widget will dynamically change according to the selected activities.

  9. There's a widget called Kargos, which I believe might be used to script stuff and possibly it may by able to show Activity-related content. I didn't try it to set up, so I can't help more.

This took me little bit of work to adjust, but it works reasonably for the activities I need. A factor is, that I have a large 4K screen and thus the Folder View widgets with app shortcuts are usually not covered, since I don't use most of my apps in full-screen mode. It might be an issue for a smaller screens.

I'd be pleased if you follow up this post with comments or answers that would help out to squeeze more good out of (currently quite crippled) activities.

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