How to Customize Konsole, the Default KDE Terminal Emulator

Beginner-friendly distributions like Ubuntu and Linux Mint will rarely (if ever) require you to open the terminal emulator, yet they still include it as one of the default applications. After all, the terminal is a constituent part of Linux history, and the concept of command-line utilities is woven into the Unix philosophy. Instead of resisting and avoiding it, why not embrace the terminal and learn how to use it?

If you’re ready to take that step, Konsole is a good starter tool. It’s the default terminal emulator for KDE Plasma, but you can install it on any Linux desktop.

Why Use Konsole?

Konsole is a well-balanced application that you can customize through dialogs and menus. This is great for beginners who don’t want to edit configuration files just to change the text color, as is necessary with other, usually lightweight terminal emulators.

At the same time, advanced users won’t feel slighted when using Konsole because you can control and modify nearly every aspect of the application.

Plus, if you use one of the many KDE-based Linux distributions, then Konsole is a natural choice.

This guide will showcase the features that make Konsole powerful and teach you how to adapt them to your needs.

Profiles and Appearance

Profiles are Konsole’s most practical feature. They make it possible to set up as many separate configurations as you want and switch between them in one session, or even use more profiles at once, each in its own tab. You can create and edit profiles in the Settings > Manage Profiles dialog.


Every profile can start in a different directory and have a custom window size. Konsole opens the Bash shell by default, but you can run other shells (like Zsh or fish) in their own profiles and tabs, or set up any other command or application to start when you load a profile.

This configuration dialog contains various settings for Konsole behavior, so you can declare custom keybindings in the Keyboard tab and control mouse click actions in the Mouse tab. We’ll return to other options in the next few sections.

The most interesting tab is Appearance. Konsole supports color schemes, which you can create yourself or download for free. You can tweak background and font colors for optimal contrast, and choose the font type and size (Konsole detects and displays only monospaced fonts installed on your system). If you want, you can even set a background image for your terminal.

Apart from individual profile configuration, Konsole has a general settings dialog under Settings > Configure Konsole. Here you can choose whether to display tabs and where to put them, as well as change the look of Konsole’s window title bar.

If you’re into meticulous tweaking, you’ll be happy to hear that Konsole lets you load a custom CSS file to modify the font, color, and size of tabs and the tab bar.

Tab Management in Konsole

By now it’s obvious that Konsole supports tabs. There’s nothing unusual about it—tabbed browsing has become a de facto standard for web browsers, and desktop applications like text editors, file managers, and terminal emulators have followed suit. In Konsole, you can rename and detach every tab if you click on it in the tab bar.

Detaching a tab closes it in the current Konsole window and opens it in a new one. This is helpful when you want to move an active application to another virtual desktop. To copy a tab into the current window, use the File > Clone Tab option. If you want an overview of several tabs at once, Konsole offers the Split View option in the View menu.

Split View will copy all opened tabs in horizontal or vertical containers, essentially creating a windows-within-a-window situation. You can select the same tab in every container but scroll to different positions in each one, which is handy when you’re reading a long file. It’s important to remember that closing a tab in one view closes it in all active views.

Konsole also supports Fullscreen Mode, which will cover the panel and all active windows once you press F11. It’s a quick way to hide the desktop!

If you often work with the same directories and find yourself opening the same files in Konsole tabs every day, it’s good to know that you can bookmark all opened tabs as a folder and load them all at once the next time you start Konsole. In a way, Konsole bookmarks replace the Save Session functionality you might recall from your favorite web browser.

Working With Files and Commands

Konsole is a great companion to a file manager—particularly to Dolphin, KDE’s default—for several reasons. First, it has an option in the File menu that opens the file manager in the currently active directory. Second, you can drag and drop items from the file manager window into the Konsole window and get a context menu with a set of convenient actions to copy, open, and link files and folders.

If you want to monitor changes in a log or any other file, check the View menu and its Monitor for Activity/Silence options. Selecting this will allow Konsole to alert you via desktop notifications when something happens (or stops happening) in the tab for which you enabled the option. If you do your backups in the terminal, you can use this to get notified when they’re completed.

As with any other KDE application, you can choose the type of notifications for Konsole. You’ll find the dialog under Settings > Configure Notifications.

Aside from tracking the output of a command, Konsole can also save it as a text or HTML file, and print it to PDF or paper. Both options are in the File menu. You can control the scope of exported files by adjusting the size of the scrollback. It can be preset for each profile, or modified on-the-fly for every opened tab by right-clicking and choosing Adjust Scrollback from the context menu.

Sometimes Linux commands produce huge outputs, flashing several hundred lines of code across the screen before you manage to read them. To give you more control over the contents of your terminal window, Konsole lets you toggle Flow Control—an option to pause the output of a command by pressing a keyboard shortcut. Again, you can configure this feature for each Konsole profile.

More Tweaks, Tricks, and Getting Help

Konsole’s strength doesn’t end here. There are plenty more features and configuration options, both big and small, that you can use to turn Konsole into a perfectly personalized terminal emulator. If you love keyboard shortcuts, feel free to define your own, or just use the defaults.

For example, Ctrl + Mouse wheel will activate zoom, and holding Ctrl + Alt while highlighting text will automatically select columns if Konsole detects them in the output. There’s also the Search feature with support for regular expressions and case-sensitive keywords.

Advanced users can start Konsole with the –background-mode switch. It will run, but remain invisible and silent, and you can bring it to the front by pressing Ctrl + Shift + F12. In case there’s a need to manually edit or backup Konsole profiles, they can be found as simple text files located at ~/.kde/share/apps/konsole/.

Is Konsole Your Favorite Terminal App?

Konsole is one of the more customizable terminal apps for Linux, but that can also make it more complex than many people need. Fortunately, with command-line culture such a strong aspect of the Linux community, there is no shortage of alternatives.

So, if you aren’t in love with Konsole after exploring all of these ways of configuring the app to your liking, why not check out one of the many great terminals available for Linux.

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