How to add and pin custom applications in Plasma

Updated: May 25, 2020

A while back, I showed you a couple of nice tricks: how to add icons for multiple versions of the same program onto the icons-only task manager in the Plasma desktop environment, and along the same lines, we also learned how to add icons for WINE programs. Now, we shall unveil another little icons trick. Specifically, how to add and pin custom applications onto the Plasma system (application) menu.

If you install software using the package manager, whichever way, then you will end up also having that software properly associated with the system, which means it will show up in the application menu. But what happens if you have custom applications, say a standalone bundle? This could be a separate version of Firefox or LibreOffice perhaps, or something similar. Let's see how we can integrate those like champs. After me.

Plasma menu edit

The thing is, if you have these random software bundle, which sit say under /home/user/Applications or something like that, they won't show up in the Plasma menu. If you launch them, there will be an icon in the task manager, but they cannot be pinned. We want to solve that.

The trick is, we need to edit the Plasma menu. Right-click > Edit Applications.

Edit menu

We've seen this menu before. Not a stranger. Now, select any category you like, where you believe your custom application ought to belong. Then, in the menu, click on New Item. P.S. You can also add a completely new section (submenu) if you think that's appropriate.

Menu editor, sections

Here, we will now add the name of the program, the description (optional), and most importantly, the command. For decorative purposes, click on the icon rectangle, and search for an appropriate icon for your program. It may have its own, or you could use a generic one instead. Reminds me of using the super-old moricons.dll (nothing to do with Ennio Moricone) in Windows 3.11 onwards for a funk, retro set of icons that you don't get in the standard set in since-newer Windows versions.

Item added

Pin it, pin it good

And that's it. This is now an application like any other - type its name or description, and it will show up in the menu. You can also pin it, just like any other program. This is the kind of thing legends are made of, or at least, a nice little hack to make you more OCD compliant.

Pin application


Short, sweet and zen-like. We now have yet another useful trick in our repertoire. I tried this with Firefox Nightly, and it works just fine. Of course, you still need to figure out how the profile will be used, whether you want the same or separate ones for different versions of the browser. And then you also need to manually add the extra icon, otherwise any launched version will collapse onto the existing (pinned) Firefox icon.

I hope you find this practical. My next challenge is figuring out scrollbars, which seems like a tough business with Breeze. This might take some work (other than ab official fix), and will mean playing with QML, just like I did in Plasma 5.17 to make the spacing of icons in the system area bigger. But we're done. Take care, netizens of the net.


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