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How To Integrate KDE Connect with GNOME Shell

MConnect GNOME Extension for KDE Connect

A new extension helps to integrate key features of KDE Connect with GNOME Shell.

The Mconnect GNOME extension allows you to quickly peek at your phone’s power levels, locate it when mislaid, and even send text messages to your Google contacts.

What is KDE Connect again?

KDE Connect is the easy way to connect Android to Ubuntu. It acts as a wireless bridge between your smartphone or tablet and the desktop. To work it needs both a desktop and an Android app to be installed, and both devices have to be on the same network for the various features to work.

When set up you can securely send and receive files to and from your Android device using Nautilus; see mobile notifications on your desktop; send text (SMS) messages from your desktop; and even use your phone’s touchscreen as a touchpad and keyboard on your desktop!

As you can tell from the name  KDE Connect natively supports KDE Plasma. To get the most out of the tool on a non-KDE desktop we recommend installing a third-party extension. The KDE Connect Indicator applet is the best way to use KDE Connect on the Ubuntu Unity desktop.

But with Ubuntu switching to GNOME Shell that solution is, perhaps, no longer the most integrated or native solution.

Which is where Mconnect comes in.

MConnect — KDE Connect GNOME Extension

The Mconnect GNOME extension is an alternative to the (rather terrific) KDE Connect Indicator that we unashamedly rave about.

But the extension is not an alternative to KDE Connect itself; you need to install and run KDE Connect on both your Linux box and your Android device for it to work.

When set up it it supports the following features:

  • Send SMS (optional Google Contacts auto-complete using GOA)
  • ‘Find my phone’ button
  • Mount and browse folders on your devices
  • Send files to your devices
  • Displays battery charging state/level

Mconnect screenshot with all features on show

A word on MConnect, the KDE Connect alternative

mconnect gnome extension pairing

The Mconnect extension also supports the promising Mconnect backend. Mconnect is a KDE Connect alternative written in Vala/C. It’s targeted at the GNOME desktop (as well as those with aversion to using anything Qt!).

Mconnect is still early in development and lacks a number of features that KDE Connect. As it isn’t readily available to install on Ubuntu through the standard repos, I have only tested this extension with KDE Connect.

You can learn more about MConnect (and get involved) by visiting its Github page.

Install KDE Connect & MConnect on Ubuntu

KDE Connect is available to install on Ubuntu 17.04 and up from Ubuntu Software:

Install KDE Connect from Ubuntu Software

The KDE Connect Android app is available on F-Droid and Google Play:

KDE Connect on Google Play Store

The Mconnect extension is available to install from the GNOME Extensions website sometime in the next few days at this link:

MConnect on GNOME Extensions

Once installed you need may need to restart your session for all of the relevant bits and pieces to startup correctly. Remember to ensure that your Android device and your desktop use the same Wi-Fi network. After that you can attempt to pair using the extension:

mconnect gnome extension pairing

Note that pairing only works when you request from your computer to your phone/tablet. It will fail if you do it the other way around.

Also be aware that some features, like file system browsing, have to be enabled in the KDE Connect Android App > Plugins list before they will work.