AppMenu Runner, meet the KDE’s HUD

A few days ago Mark Shuttleworth announced the HUD menu, a  Unity dialog that lets you trigger menu actions in the focused application like:

  • look for bookmarks,
  • change your IM status
  • execute an action contained in the menu bar.
This kind of features as well of how they are executed may sound familiar to you dear Plasma Worksapce user… Exactly! I’m referring to our beloved KRunner!

KRunner can do a lot of stuff in both global and active application scope (though it tends to offer more global features) , just to mention a few: Math, Bookmarks, Files, Calendar, Contacts, Emails, Devices, Change IM Status, Recent documents…

I have to say that I’m glad to see Unity going into this direction since it is something that we (KDE Community) have believe in for years, so having Canonical and its designer team walking into the same direction may indicate that we are not wrong or at least we are not the only ones mistaken :)

Despite KRunner being able to do a lot of things it couldn’t do something the HUD does, execute actions contained in the menu. No less than 7 months ago I did my first attempt on achieve exactly that and of course I blogged about it. I didn’t continue with the effort mainly because: kdelibs was frozen, it worked only for KDE applications, it worked only if the menu bar was shown within the window.

After watching the HUD video I got inspired and motivated to create a Runner which will use the same technology as HUD (and the oxygen-appmenu or the plasma-menubar plasmoid) to look and execute menu bar actions, this is the result:

Direct link


There are a few things to work on but I hope to put this in KDE Plasma Worksapce 4.9 if the Plasma teams like it of course.

The code is in:


Kubuntu packages are WIP
Would be nice if somebody can write a manual of how to setup appmenu in Qt and maybe other toolkits.

  • JanKusanagi

    Very very nice :)
    Supporting with hard facts the theory that there’s _nothing_ that KDE can’t do!

    Great job!

  • CTown

    This is just amazing! Will this make it in KDE’s 4.9 release?

  • CTown


    Never mind my question! Sorry, I should have read the text underneath the video…

  • Gallaecio

    Just amazing.

  • Emil Sedgh

    This is very awesome! Push it sooner than later, Alex.
    Also, direct link to the video is broken.

  • Bugsbane

    Awesome. Gets my vote for inclusion! Ever since your last post, I’ve kept wishing that we had something like this. Joy!

  • gaboo

    Great! Push this into 4.9 :)

  • e8hffff

    Maybe make the kRunner more visible and interactive, then having to press F2.

  • e8hffff

    Voice recognitions would be a nice feature too.

  • zizzfizzix

    If I’m not mistaken appmenu was pushed into Qt 4.8 (see GTK+ in Ubuntu has a patch for it integrated by default, so you could look at how they do it.

    As for the idea, I remember reading about your first attempt, I have to say it was easier to discover, which means useful for more people, but I must admit that having just one, fixed place to do this is better than having to click through menus in every window you’re in.

    I’d really love to see this in 4.9 :)

  • gnumdk
    • afiestas

      Yes ! that’s the next step! but before we have to put kded-appmenu into workspace and port the plasma-menubar and oxygen-appmenu. I’m all in for doing the port of mine little thing !

  • Hans

    Incredible! I guess I can mark this idea as done then: :D

    Tip for everyone: If you want to separate this from the “global” KRunner plugins, you can create an individual shortcut for this runner. See for more information.

  • John


    Try Simon Listens, we already have voice control for KDE, tie it all together in a neat package and we’ll once again prove teh community can beat Canonical to teh punch!

  • Ivan

    Firstly, *great* work mate!

    Secondly, HUD is problematic usability-wise. That is, it is showing an application specific thing as a workspace thing.

    It is awesome that krunner supports this now, but for me, the UI needs to be visually tied to the window, not to the desktop.

    If you succeed in pushing this into 4.9, I hope we’ll have the better UI for it in 4.10 :) (kwin could manage it…)

    • afiestas

      Yeah, my preference would be to put this into appmenu-oxygen, the thing that puts the menubar in the window decorator.

  • Fabs

    i’m not a big fan of the HUD system but i love to see that we can use it on our kdebox (: thank you! the bad stuff on HUD/Globalmenu is that you can only use it for the active window but i ise the menubar ofter for other open apps to just delete something, open a tab, save the work[…]
    the old idea – seachbar in the menubar was awesome if they could merged together with gnumdk’s appmenu – click the button and get on the top position a search bar and below the menu / searchresults. on top of that the mouse movements are reduced in the appmenu from 100%(old menu style) to just ca 30% with appmenu (and no, there is no additional click) .. well thats all offtopic. So Thank you for this improvement. i will try it and use it for now :D lets see

  • gregopet


    Love the idea, time will tell whether I can actually get used to it :)

    One question: I built the krunner from your GIT and did ‘make install’, but the krunner doesn’t show itself in krunner. I tried restarting krunner and plasma-desktop, but it doesn’t seem to work. Should I log out and back in (can do, but I would have to close and reopen many many apps, that’s why I’m asking first :P)?

    KDE 4.8, not built from sources (OpenSUSE 12.1)

    • afiestas

      Mm try running kbuildsyscoca4 but it at least should be listed as krunner plugin

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  • Leuty

    @afiestas: Great stuff.
    @Ivan: Good point I just had the same thoughts..

    Offtopic: With many runners enabled I find it hard in krunner to find the relevant result fast. I run Unity on a testing laptop here and I like their “scopes and lenses” concept. It would be quite a fun project to write a prototype doing a similar thing using KDE technologies (Kwin, Nepomuk, Plasma, GHNS). Maybe a GSOC project for an advanced student (who knows a lot about KDE technology)? Don’t get me wrong. I am not telling anybody do to this. I just thought it might be a fun thing to do and that is what it is all about, right?

    • afiestas

      I know of a KDE developer working on KRunner port to QML that improves visibility imho, so something is WIP :)

  • Rabuzarus

    really great.
    one little point… is there a way that not only the actions will be offered but also their corresponding shortcuts? It would be nice for learning shortcuts ;)

    • afiestas

      Yes, Will work on that

  • Andrew

    I’ve installed it in Kubuntu 12.04 and the plugin shows up in Krunner, but it doesn’t work. Does it need anything else to work?

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  • gnumdk
    • afiestas

      Perfect, sending an email to you right now !

  • sven

    Woah, I really like this :). I’ll just try this now. It seems to improve my work-speed a lot.. Thanks.

  • Buffalo Pete

    Cool! Want!

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  • Hans

    Just tried it and it’s awesome! However, it seems like I was lying in my previous comment (#12), the AppMenu runner doesn’t appear in the Global Keyboard Shortcuts list for Run Command Interface in System Settings. Is there anything special that needs to be done in order to make it appear there?

  • gerlos

    Great work!
    It remembers me a lot to Mac Os X text field in the help menu, did you got inspiration from that? (if not, give it a look, it’s interesting. I can give you a video if you want, just drop me an email)

    Hope it will be very keyboard-friendly.

    Thanks for your work! :-)

    • afiestas

      I know the help menu, and yes! it was my inspiration for the first attemp.

      We do everything keyboard friendly so no worries!

  • Andrew

    I’ve found how why it wasn’t working in Kubuntu 11.10/12.04 and how to get it to work. Apparently, if the menu is displayed inside the window and is always visible, it doesn’t work. If I activate oxygen-appmenu, it works…

  • Robert

    I like! It’s not that unobtrusive like the Ubuntu HUD. You don’t have to change anything if you don’t want to use it. It uses existing technologies (KRunner). superb!

  • e8hffff


    Simon-listens is not in Canonical’s repositories. I may have to seek it out on launchpad or somewhere.

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  • Luis Fernando Planella Gonzalez

    Great job!!!
    Some suggestion: It is nice to have a shortcut for KRunner with this plugin only.
    However, it was not possible, because in appmenu.desktop, the following line was missing: X-Plasma-AdvertiseSingleRunnerQueryMode=true
    Also, I added the following as icon: show-menu.
    At least in Kubuntu, it is the plasma widget for the global menu bar.
    Keep up with the good work, and hope to see it making into KDE 4.9!

  • Luis Fernando Planella Gonzalez

    What is your plan on the integration with the menu button in the window decoration?
    Adding a search field on the top of the menu, after expanding it?
    That would be nice!

  • STiAT

    You’ve made it into an austrian web newspaper with your “AppMenu” implementaiton.

  • maninalift

    Two slight concerns about using KRunner in this way:

    1. Following on from what Ivan says about confusing the application and the desktop. I think this applies not only to the cosmetic considarations but also the functionality. I know whether I am trying to launch an application action or a desktop/workspace action. Having “restart” game and “restart” computer in the same runner-interface leads to more clutter and frustration in finding the commands I want. I could be wrong about this, perhaps the advantage of only having to go to one place is greater than the disadvantage of the clutter. I know I can launch KRunner with just a single runner but not many people will set this up if they have to configure it themselves.

    2. There is a loss of functionality from your previous approach which allowed you to interact with any widgets in the applications menu (for example the smiley-picker in the demo video) and as a result of using the applications native menu widgets was also much clearer and easier to read.

    I would love to see KRunner be capable of doing more, does anyone remember Ubiquity?

    Actually I blogged about this more than three years ago

  • skierpage

    Really cool, but hard to see what’s going on from your video. People, when you do screen captures please please switch to a smaller desktop size. It makes for a smaller faster video file and text on-screen is actually legible.

  • MountainX

    Awesome! This is very important work! Thank you! A heads-up-display for KDE is essential. I hope it can retain the traditional flexibility and customization of KDE. I would like to use it with my menus on the application windows. The Oxygen Appmenu is OK for me, but I would also like a choice to have traditional-looking window menus with a HUD. That would be perfect for me — until the point where HUD can be used for everything.

    Great work!!! Thank you.

    • afiestas

      You will be able to choose however you want and what you want to use, in KDE software we always try to have good defaults but at the same time we let the user decide how they want to work, and with the appmenu is not going to be in a different way.

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  • KDELover


    Is there any news if this is actually going to be possible on KDE 4.9? (not talking about kubuntu specifically but on ANY distro that ships KDE)

    Please give us some news about the status of this.

    also, from what i understand, for this to work a “Global Menu Bar” for KDE has to work also, right?!


    • afiestas


  • Sven

    So what packages are needed to get this working?


    If one has all the needed packages, what does one have to activate? Still oxygen-appmenu, although it is marked as deprecated on kde-look?


  • herophuong

    May the search algorithm should be improved? HUD in Unity can do fuzzy search so it makes searching easier.

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  • axel

    Hi! Are there any updates on your project? Will it be included in KDE 4.9?

    • afiestas

      I haven’t had time to finish it :/

  • Giacomo

    So this project is actually “dead” at the moment?
    I’d really **loved** to see this in an official KDE release.
    I hope you, or eventually some other skilled people, will find the time to continue its development.

  • josephk

    hi. I love this plugin and how plasma design is flexible.

    But let me ask just few things:
    why has it not been added to 4.9 release?
    Is it ready for use?
    will it be available in 4.10?
    will appmenu in decoration be available too?

    • afiestas

      It will probably make it for 4.10

      • jk

        beautiful news for us! =)

  • kokinhas

    So, is there any plans to finish this feature and implement it soon?

    • afiestas

      YEs, once “kdeappmenu” project is ready and stable. We hope to make it for 4.10 but it is not sure.


  • Evan Nelson

    Two questions.

    1) Is this project still actively targeted for KDE 4.10? Is it likely to be included?

    2) Are there plans to make AppMenu useable as a “single” runner via a global shortcut? (e.g. so I can set up a global shortcut for “alt” and then pressing alt will ONLY use the AppMenu runner)