KDE Plasma 5.26 Released, Here’s What’s New

KDE Plasma 5.26 has been released, serving as the latest update to this hugely popular free and open source desktop environment.

And don’t worry: Plasma 5.26 is a bountiful bugfix boon of a release. There are, as always, some “blingy” new additions to browse, produce, or play, but also a slew of improvements that touch nearly every part of the Plasma desktop experience.

Quality matters, and with the size of KDE’s user base (thanks to devices like Valve’s Steamdeck), taking time to double-up on what’s already been built is healthy in the grand scheme.

So let’s recap the changes.

Changes in KDE Plasma 5.26

screenshot of kde plasma 5.26 on KDE Neon with app menu compact mode, manual night color settings and visible plasmoid timer
KDE Plasma 5.26 has new features

I’ll start this run with Kickoff, the default KDE Plasma desktop application menu.

You can now click on any letterhead in Kickoff’s “All Apps” view to access a letter picker. From there, you can click on a letter to quickly access all installed apps starting with that one. KickOff also has a new Compact mode which, when enabled, shows more items at a glance in the list view, and the option to display a custom text label.

Avid Plasmoids fans will appreciate Panel popups are now resizable. Just hover your mouse over the edge or corner and pull it out. Additionally, resized panel widgets remember the size they were previously stretched to. Additionally, KDE says that “many” Plasma widgets can now be used with a screen reader.

There is a New Timer widget you can drop on the desktop to quickly time everything you need. The timer widget also supports executing a command or action upon completion, which is a handy way to force yourself to take notice!

The Settings app picks up some wallpaper-related improvements. You can now preview wallpapers before applying them (click on a wallpaper and preview updates); you can use different wallpapers depending on your color scheme preferences; and set animated pictures as wallpaper – something I tweeted recently:

You can also choose from a map when setting a location in the Night Color page of the System Settings, from which you can now also set a daytime color/temperature.

The KDE Plasma software tool Discover now lets you choose how often you are notified of new updates; now shows content ratings for apps; and has a new “share” button to make it easier to share cool software you find with other people.

Finally, KDE Plasma 5.26 introduces some notable changes to Wayland support, with Plasma Wayland sessions now able to manage graphics tablet configuration, middle-click paste preferences, and beautifully scale apps running on XWayland.

KDE Plasma 5.26 will be rolling out to streaming distros starting today, but it may take a bit longer to reach fixed-version distros like Ubuntu (Kubuntu 22.10 should ship with Plasma 5.25).

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