KDE Plasma 5.25, the latest version of the hugely popular free and open source desktop environment, is out, ready to download.

KDE Plasma 5.25 serves as the follow-up to KDE Plasma 5.24 LTS, last year’s sizeable and well-received long-term support update. Although the new update isn’t an LTS it does boast over 400 bug fixes and a number of interesting new features that users will be keen to try.

So without any further waffle, let’s look at 5 of the best new features in KDE Plasma 5.25.

KDE Plasma 5.25: 5 Best Changes

1. Auto Accent Colours

Screenshot of KDE Plasma 5.25's new 'use accent colour from current wallpaper' option
Accent colours made easy

Find it hard to settle on an accent colour to use throughout the Plasma desktop? If so, why not let the system do it for you? Automatic adaptive personalisation is a major part of modern mobile user experiences and thanks to KDE devs it’s now part of the KDE Plasma 5.25 desktop too.

Yes, Plasma 5.25 offers an option to use an accent colour algorithmically-derived from the hues of your current desktop wallpaper.

Every time you change your wallpaper you change the accent colour too. Simple and automatic. It even works with wallpaper slideshows. That said, this feature is optional (i.e. it’s not turned on by default) so you do need to go out of your way to benefit — something I reckon a lot of users will be rushing to do!

Plus, you can now choose to tint all colours in an active colour scheme using the accent colour derived from your wallpaper. It sounds fussy but this will give your desktop a cohesive, consistent vibe as windows are tonally in-tune. You can choose how much tint gets applied, and save your settings as a distinct colour scheme.

2. Floating Panel

animated gif showing floating panel in kde plasma 5.25
Floating panels animate fluidly

KDE Plasma is the ruling monarch of customisation and in Plasma 5.25 its royal powers further by introducing a new Floating Panel option. This (as the name may very well tell you) inserts a margin all the way around the panel, lifting it off and away from the screen boundaries.

The corners of floating panels are subtly rounded to effect a softer, more tactile look. You can also choose whether a floating panel is transparent or opaque to hone the look you want.

Floating panels also animate back to a regular panel whenever you maximise an application window. This animation is smooth and retains the placing of panel items so the point targets remain where your mind anticipates them.

To enable floating panels in KDE Plasma 5.25 just right-click the panel, select Enter Edit Mode, followed by More Options, and then select Floating. Simple!

3. Improved Workspace Switching

screenshot of the overview effect in KDE Plasma 5.25
Overview of overview

Managing windows and moving between workspaces is easier in KDE Plasma thanks to the Overview effect. This shows open windows, virtual desktops (or workspaces, if you prefer that term).

KDE’s new Overview is reminiscent of Mission Control in macOS, but far more features: you can search for apps, documents, browser tabs, access all of the the features of KRunner and the Application Launcher, and remove, add and rename virtual desktops with ease.

To open the Overview in KDE Plasma 5.25 press super + w or, on a multi-touch-enabled touchpad, do a four finger pinch.

Plus, the Present Windows and Desktop Grid effects have been rewritten from scratch in this release and now share much of their code with the new Overview. Desktop grid in particular is a more dynamic way to get an overview of workspaces, making it an ideal alternative to the overview.

4. 1:1 touch gestures

Touchpad and touchscreen gestures included

KDE Plasma 5.25 includes 1:1 touchpad (and touchscreen) gestures. This means whenever you use a touchpad gesture to, for example, enter the new Overview with a four finger pinch, the overview animation moves as fast or as slow as your fingers do.

Put simply, all animations triggered by touchpad gestures now move in time with your fingers. Want to get to the desktop grid instantly? Just swipe up with four fingers fast. Want to page between virtual desktops slowly so you can see what’s open on what? Slowly drag three-fingers to the left or right of your trackpad.

These 1:1 gestures also work for touchscreens, meaning you can swipe from the screen edge to get at the overview and have the effect move as fast or as slow as your finger. This, KDE devs say, delivers a “more natural interaction with your machine”.

5. Touchmode

KDE Plasma 5.25 is the first version to to offer a Touch Mode experience to improve the experience of using the desktop on tablets.

Touch Mode in Plasma 5.25 turns on if a screen is detached from a docked keyboard or a convertible device is flipped around into tablet mode. You can also enable it manually.

When in touch mode the task manager and the system tray increase in size to be easier to smush with your digits. To make using touch screens easier you can also change the size of the icons in toolbars and apps when touch mode is active.

Titlebars of KDE apps also increase in size to make it easier to press and drag windows with touch, while some context menus increase the spacing between options.


But wait — there’s more!

This was just a top-level overview of the more obvious changes in Plasma 5.25, but there’s plenty more to see: including a redesigned ‘global theme’ settings; new-look app pages in the Discover software tool; and a cute little jiggle effect at the login screen if you enter the wrong password.

So for the full nut-and-bolt detail of everything devs altered, added, or amped up be sure to ‘av a gander at the official KDE Plasma 5.25 release notes.

In the mean time, let me know which features of KDE Plasma 5.25 you’re excited to try, down in the comments!

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