How-To Geek

Disable Single-Click Opening of Files in KDE

Having switched from Ubuntu to Kubuntu recently, the first thing that irritated me beyond all reason was that single-clicking on a file or folder immediately opens the file instead of selecting it. Since I use Windows and Ubuntu on a daily basis, it’s just frustrating that it works differently in KDE.

The one thing you can’t complain about, however, is how nice and easy KDE’s system settings are. Just open them up via the “start” menu, and find the Keyboard & Mouse icon.


Click on “Mouse” in the left hand menu, and then choose “Double-click to open files and folders – select icons on first click”. 


Now you can safely click on icons again! 


Why this isn’t the default in KDE when it is in every other operating system, I’ll never know.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/3/07

Comments (16)

  1. Timothy Liddy

    As an avid KDE user and fan, and a huge believer in the simplest way to achieve something is the best (as in: why click twice, when once does it just fine)I am always amazed at these posts about the 1 click default. (trust me, you are certainly not the first to be unhappy about this one). I guess I’m just strange, but when I install an O/S (or in Linux a new Desktop) the very first thing I do, and to me it would make sense that everyone else would do this to, is to CONFIGURE it. I know that I’m going to HATE the majority of the default settings, so the first thing that I do is trot on over to the button that starts the configuration process, so I can make the desktop “mine”. Please understand, I’m simply giving my opinion, and I enjoy you blogs, and I’m certainly not trying to ‘Flame’ you or anything, I’m a very relaxed kind of guy. I have to agree that KDE choosing 1 click for their default setting is a tad ‘odd’. I guess they were just trying to be different!! I think Kubuntu ROCKS, it’s been a no brainer FOR ME, since I tried the *buntu’s, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, I can’t wait until October to see what KDE4 brings. I hope they don’t screw up a good thing. Thanks again for you blog.

  2. Will

    Single click for KDE is the default for usability reasons:

    I have actually changed my Windows install over to single click to match the KDE behaviour. 9 times out of 10, I am clicking something because I want to launch/open it so it’s easier/faster to just use single click instead of clicking it a second time. For those rare situations where I just want to select the icon without opening it, I just hover the mouse over top and it is selected after about one second.

    It can take a little bit of practice to master it, but you will likely find that single clicking is easier and faster.

  3. The Geek

    While I absolutely agree that single-click to open is very quick in some circumstances, I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be the default, because the vast majority of people are used to double-clicking. It seems that the much smaller set of people that prefer single-click are the ones that should be configuring the settings.

    Usability is about more than just the quickest way to do something… it’s about what the user is expecting as well.

    Great comments, though! I am so much happier with KDE… ubuntu is retarded in comparison to Kubuntu.

  4. Daniel Aleksandersen

    Double-click does not make much sense to me. You point, and you click. Why should you have to double click? You do not turn the door knob two times to open the door, do you?

  5. The Geek

    I frequently single-click items so that I can see them in a preview pane, or so that I can select two files on the screen… when single-clicking always opens them, it doesn’t work.

    I think the real point is that people will like it both ways, but that the vast majority of people are used to double-clicking to open things. Seems that the interface should default to the settings that people are expecting, or at the very least there should be a small screen during setup to explain the two options to the user.

  6. Jake

    @The geek: Be default when you start KDE you can setup different options, such as Unix, KDE, OS X, or Windows mode. The Windows (and OS X too I believe) mode will set the double click automatically. However, must distributions seem to diable this wizard from playing. It isn’t KDE’s fault.

  7. The Geek


    That’s interesting… I’ll have to look into that. That would definitely be useful if you wanted to roll out KDE to a lot of regular users.

  8. Jake

    @The Geek: It’s called the desktop settings wizard. Some distros have it in K Menu even if it doesn’t run, such as Sabayon.

  9. The Geek


  10. The Geek


    I’ve disabled trackbacks entirely on this site. I don’t find them to be very useful to the reader.

    I usually only allow links if they are useful and relevant, which yours seems to be…. plus, you contributed to the discussion =)

  11. Randy

    I never understood KDE’s reason for doing this. Anyways, this is a much-needed tutorial. Thank you for such a great site! You break it down better than any sites out there.

  12. Paul

    Im having a problem that i cant seem to fix.Its the single click of the mouse that is constantly opening files up?I dont want this to happen?I have uninstalled and cleaned as well as uninstalling all mouse and keyboard entrys from the device manager.Thern i have to press the power butten on cpu to power down then boot up .This sucks i cant seem to get rid of this single mouse click thingy that is not allowing me to grab and drag files around anymore?

  13. Double Click Forever

    I am also a double click fan and I find it crazy that there is not the option to choose double-click or default PRESENTED to the user as The Geek says. It is quite arrogant of these single-click mafia folk who insist their way is the right way and we are using a less usable mechanism.

    I also single-click files more often than not for file management reasons rather than to open them, for opening files I usually launch the application with alt+f2 and the specific file I want will be in the recent files list. This is quicker than navigating with any file manager for the layout of my disk because I use the same 5-10 files in an application more often than not over and over again.

    Not to mention that EVERYBODY IS USED TO DOUBLE-CLICK. That means double-click IS MORE INTUITIVE because people ARE USED TO IT. Saying it’s better for newbies is absurd, how many newbies start their computer experience with Linux?

    Now I understand that for many (most?) people they will most often often be opening files and not previewing like “The Geek” above or deleting/renaming like me so single-click could be a TINY bit more efficient as they will need to click less often. Considering how many keys we press an extra mouse click here and there is not going to give you RSI, that’s absurd and I don’t care if you have some silly study that finds it does funded by an RSI special interest group and written by people paid to find causes of RSI, it’s amazing how many people do not understand even rigorous scientific studies can find different outcomes depending how you tweak uncontrolled non-obvious variables and assume just because it was done by a PhD that makes it right. Look at nutrition for a fine example, you can find a bazillion special interest PhD’s coming up with conclusive findings to the same question that result in polar opposite answers.

    So, end of rant and one request. It would be lovely if the KDE people made this a question upon startup. We are perfectly sane and sensible when we say we prefer double-click, not only because we are used to it and the MEAGRE efficency gain for SOME PEOPLE from single click is obliterated by all the mistakes accidently open files, but because for some methodologies it’s not more efficient at all.

    The major problem with KDE is it thinks it is smarter than everyone else, doesn’t perform enough VARIED usability studies and doesn’t quality assure their products very throughly to iron out bugs.

    The great thing about KDE is it is very flexible. Although it thick-headedly assumes non-standard ways are often better than standard ways for spurious reasons it can be bent to your will.

    Take DOLPHIN for example. When I opened this file manager I thought, “oh what a polished turd. They have imitated Mac OS X finder” and as any medium-long term Mac OS X user will tell you, finder is the very worst part of Mac OS X. A couple of googles and flicking through the preferences and suddently I have a twin-pane file manager with detail columns, a follow-me terminal prompt, location bars I can type directories into and none of that Mac OS X preview faff which “The Geek” above finds useful (presumably he works with lots of images).

    In fact, it’s now as powerful as Midnight Commander. I can navigate up/down with hotkeys and edit the menu to add actions. It even has superfluous fluff like inline renaming that doesn’t make any difference to function but visually matches what you are used to if you like it that way. Superb. And that’s why despite how annoying it can be, KDE simply has no equal for a power user desktop environment. Your minimalist window managers don’t make you clever, I have all the hot key power you do and all the KDE control you don’t. Lol…

  14. TrianKar

    Ok guys, here’s my 2 cents on this.

    As much as I like KDE and I’ve been using it (intermittently) since the pre-1 days, this single-click thing is loathable. All the rest of the world works with 1-click-select 2-click-open. Like another user pointed out, that’s what everybody else expects. People are used to selecting things first, (right~)clicking / opening later.

    The “one click is better and you should get used to it” approach is rather hot-shot for me. I like to have visual confirmation of what my selection is before I do anything and I don’t want to drag a rectangle over an icon so as to select it.

    Now THAT is what I call BAD usability.



  15. Jack

    I can guarantee that if we started off using single-click in the computer industry, everyone would think double-clicking was innane madness. It’s all a matter of familiarity, unless you find some reason to select only one file without the intention of selecting multiple with control or shift. They just realized that no one ever really gets anything out of highlighting a file, so they make all the info/colorization happen when you highlight it.

    It makes things way easier to do. Once you’ve been single clicking for a while, saving or opening a selection in Gnome applications gets pretty annoying. Like I said, it’s all familiarity. Being annoyed with something different isn’t a reason, it’s just an excuse.

    A good REASON single-clicking is a good idea is that it saves you time, thought, and strength over time. It’s just more efficient, like Dvorak versus Qwerty.

  16. Marc

    Forget usability just for one second. If single-click opens the file, how do you select it?

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