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KRunner auto-launch feedback April 11, 2011

Posted by Vitor Boschi in vitor-planetkde.

In the end of February, I pushed a new feature that launches KRunner automatically whenever the user starts typing and no plasmoid is focused, so that one doesn’t need to push ALT+F2 before using it.

Now that it’s around for some time, I’d like to get some feedback about usability. Is it easy enough to discover? Does it gets in your way? Should I add a setting to enable/disable it, or even remove it completely? Comments, please 😀



1. m4v - April 11, 2011

what kde version would that be? I’m afraid I don’t have it (kde 4.5.1 here)

Vitor Boschi - April 11, 2011

unfortunately you must run a recent development version to test this feature

2. blablabla - April 11, 2011

I only wish that KRunner wouldn’t so heavy. 9,2 Mb in background…
Oops, and an option to clear history of ‘recent items’ 🙂

Vitor Boschi - April 11, 2011

I never checked how much memory KRunner uses, but take a look at http://www.kdedevelopers.org/node/1445
Most of the memory “used” by applications are taken by shared libraries.
I don’t know if it already can clear the history, but it’s something that can be implemented.

zoehneto - April 12, 2011

In times there every new Computer ships with 4 gb of ram 9.2 mb is not really a problem, and if it is for you, than you probably shouldn’t be using kde anyways.

3. Markus - April 11, 2011

To be fair, I didn’t try that feature because I’m still on 4.6 but anyway, here are my thoughts:

1.) How do I know if a / what plasmoid has focus?
2.) If I have to click on the empty desktop first, I can just as well click on the K Menu.
3.) That feature sound’s like Mozilla’s “Find as you type” feature that IIRC was introduced and enabled by default during the Mozilla Suite days but was later disabled and replaced Ctrl-F + Jump to search results for usability reasons.

Vitor Boschi - April 11, 2011

1) Usually there’s some visual indication like a blinking cursor or a focused button
2) IIRC, KRunner can do a lot of things the K Menu can’t, like solving math expressions
3) This feature doesn’t change the behavior of KRunner, it’s just another way to launch it. KRunner currently display results as you type, but it has been this way for a long time.

4. leo - April 11, 2011

It’s a cool feature, except for 1 thing: the first character is lost.

If i start typing “tomahawk” to launch Tomahawk, krunner pops up with “omahawk”. So then I need to remember to type “ttomahawk”, which sort of defeats the purpose of having it Just Work in the first place.

but good work! 🙂

Vitor Boschi - April 11, 2011

oh crap.. I thought I had already fixed this. Thanks for pointing, I’ll fix this

5. KenP - April 11, 2011

Is this in 4.6.2? Can’t get it working yet.

Vitor Boschi - April 11, 2011

It’s not in 4.6. You need a development version.

6. krabuzz - April 11, 2011

do not work in folderview 😦 can you enable it? thats a really usefull feature. it should work everytime, even when there are open windows. as long as no inputfield is aktive 🙂

Vitor Boschi - April 11, 2011

It’s currently only enabled in the default desktop. I can enable it in other containments as well, but it wouldn’t work in folderview because the keyboard is used by it to search files.

krabuzz - April 11, 2011

arr :/ thats a bad.. folderview is the only thing i use. do we really need a search in the folderview? xD

ScottK - April 12, 2011

This would be really useful in plasma-netbook. Plasma-netbook used to default focus in the search box in search and launch, but that got lost. This would help solve that.

7. venky80 - April 12, 2011

Why cant krunner be incorporated with kmenu?
the Kmenu find bar sucks really horribly.
Would there be a spotlight like button to activate krunner in future?

8. crabman - April 12, 2011

its a great example of another well hidden feature in kde. No average user will ever discover it, an if he/she sould happen to find it, 50 % will think its a bug.

The same applies to krunner itself and most of its functions.

merge krunner with the k-menu, so ppl can SEE it to make it discoverable

jos poortvliet - April 14, 2011

Agreed. Sure, the menu currently uses krunner but only the app search functionality. Having all its power would make it useful for the majority of users.

Someone like those who read this blog of course don’t need that – I don’t even HAVE a menu, I use krunner for everything 😀

9. sebas - April 12, 2011

It loses the first letter here, if nothing’s focused, and I type “kate”, only “ate” ends up in my krunner input.

Vitor Boschi - April 12, 2011

It’s a known bug. I’m gonna fix it tonight.

10. peewen - April 12, 2011

there is a tutorial for build a development version?

Vitor Boschi - April 12, 2011
11. S7P - April 12, 2011

Bind krunner on the ALT-SPACE key by default. This will make a first class katapult / gnome-do feature look-a-like of it. I think this will help more and this solution is much easier to make. E.g. you might want to start a new program while another is still open or do a calculation with the integrated calculator in krunner.

Set the ALT-SPACE combo is one of the first things I do when I have installed a new KDE on my system.

Aaron - April 12, 2011

I haven’t tried it yet (still on 4.6.2) but it sounds like the desktop would have to have focus for this to work, no? I would think that if I’m in firefox or konsole or any application anything I type will be picked up by that program. If that is the case (and please, correct me if I’m wrong) it’s easier for me to use the keyboard shortcut to activate krunner. Looking forward to trying this when 4.7 comes out.

12. Hans - April 12, 2011

In response to KMenu + KRunner comments: Kickoff (the default application launcher) already uses KRunner for searching, see http://ivan.fomentgroup.org/blog/2009/09/06/tokamak-3-my-summary/

I haven’t tried this new feature, but from the description it sounds pretty useful. However, it’s not easy to discover, and I can see some people getting annoyed by it – for example if they thought they were going to enter some text in a Note widget but instead got this weird “pop-up”.

As Markus mentioned e.g. Mozilla Firefox has a “Find as you type” feature (which I personally like); there’s probably a good reason why they have it disabled by default. I’m not sure what’s best in this case, but I feel that introducing an option for it has very little benefits vs drawbacks.

13. crabman - April 12, 2011

true but only a small subset. No calculator, no contacts and worse: no nepomuk.
Krunner can enven solve equations! and nepomuk can provide a powerful desktop search, if only ppl knew about it. As long as its hidden in krunner nobody will

14. Alan - April 13, 2011

Probably should be disabled by default. For those of us who grew up on the CLI it sounds great but users who expect to work fully GUI will just think something’s gone wrong if krunner suddenly appears if they (accidentally) press a key.
I suggest you check this out with some of the usability gurus

15. mu3en - April 16, 2011

sounds sleek. look forward to seeing this in action soon in a non-development release(?).

tend to agree it should be disabled by default though (option in krunner’s internal settings dialog), since it may not be universally useful/appreciated.

command-space is the apple shortcut for spotlight which works well for krunner with apple keyboards. would be awesome to get rid of even that thanks to this addition though!

16. hypertyper - November 12, 2011

I love the auto launch but it only works on my secondary monitor. No idea why. I started a thread about it in the kde forums

Vitor Boschi - November 12, 2011

Nice to year people are using it. I’ll try to fix that asap.

17. Dmitry - November 26, 2011

This feature is annoying in working environment with many windows and frequent switches between the windows especially for those who use focus-follows-mouse setting. If the window occasionally loses the focus, any key typing launces krunner who grabs the focus. The user does not necessarily notice the jumped-in krunner window somewhere at the top of the screen. This causes some disorientation and interrupts with the workflow.

I second that this feature should be disabled by default. In any case, an option to turn it off is absolutely needed.

18. lunapar95 - April 19, 2012

Is there way to disable this feature? It is generator of pain. I really dont` need it in 95% of time

lunapar95 - April 19, 2012

And my sister is happy to use it. Thanks 🙂

Vitor Boschi - April 27, 2012

There isn’t. I discussed this with KRunner maintainer and he thinks this will be used by few people, but add clutter to the config interface and code.

Queria Sa-Tas - June 14, 2012

Well thanks(really – not!) for such a mess.
I was hunting down this behaviour for a two weeks (why the hell krunner was poping up when i had disabled all shortcuts for him etc etc?).

Now I’m happy – after reading this i removed /usr/bin/krunner (and replaced it with symlink for my own app-launcher) 🙂

Vitor Boschi - June 14, 2012

I’ll consider that as a bug, and as such, it should be fixed.

19. Andrea J - July 8, 2012

Hi, Vitor. I REALLY hate the krunner auto-launch when no plasmoid has focus on the desktop, as does my husband. We both have laptops with touchpads that, due to driver issues, don’t disable while typing. I can’t tell you the number of times (hundreds, I think) that I’ve lost focus off the plasmoid and started typing into a krunner box. PLEASE add a way to disable this!!!

20. lunapar95 - December 1, 2013

For those who in trouble with this:
you can turn off krunner at all by using http://techbase.kde.org/KDE_System_Administration/Kiosk/Keys#Session_Capability_Restrictions

just put
“[KDE Action Restrictions][$i]
to ~/.kde4/share/config/kdeglobals

21. Richard - November 2, 2014

It’s a nice feature, but … I prefer to disable auto-launching of KRunner (when any keys are typed). Is there a way to prevent the auto-launching please? A command-line solution is fine too.

(btw, But thanks for your work on this — I can see that some people would really like the auto-lanch feature… it depends on personal preference.)

Vitor Boschi - November 3, 2014

Hi Richard, thanks for your interest in this question. I can’t really tell you the current state of this feature, since I’m away from KDE development for a while now, but at the time it was implemented, there was a discussion with the maintainers about adding a configuration for it, or not, and the consensus was that it’s not intrusive enough to justify the need for a configuration. This means that there should be no way to disable it.

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