March 24, 2018

5 Awesome Things You Can Do With KDE Connect And Probably Did Not Know About

KDE Connect, Plasma's built-in way to interact with your Android phone from your Plasma desktop and vice-versa, has seen some awesome improvements lately. New features and polish abound. However that is not what this post is about. For those new to KDE Plasma and / or KDE Connect, I will supply links at the bottom for you to get better antiquated. It really is one of the true standout applications that ship with Plasma these days.

For the rest of this article, I will assume you have a basic understanding of what KDE Connect is and what it does. If you need to go read up a little and get caught up, that's OK. We'll wait.

KDE Connect's settings
Check out KDE Connect in your system settings
to get an idea of all you can do with this invaluable tool,
provided you have an Android phone

What I do want to cover here are five use-cases that you may not inherently know about. Five things I've found to be invaluable ways to extend KDE Connect (henceforth to be referred to simply as 'KC') to enhance my work flow and get more out of both my phone and my desktop; and ultimately more out of KDE Plasma. If your curious, read on.

1. Send youtube & other video links right to your pc from your phone in real-time

While many may know that using the clipboard function will allow you to send text, including URL's for example, to your desktop and vive versa, one really cool use-case for this that I've found is to send a video to my desktop to continue watching. This is similar to Google Cast, for example, except that you don't need a Chromecast and you don't need to be running Google Chrome as a browser! Here's how it works:

Let's assume you are on the Youtube application on your Android phone, enjoying a video like say the KDE 5.12 LTS video from our friend over at TuxDigital.

Let's also assume that you now want to watch the rest of the video on your laptop, as you are now sitting comfortably at your desk and want to savor the KDE goodness on your 14-inch laptop screen. Simply click the "Share" icon on the video, select the KDE Connect icon, and watch in amazement as the video opens on your desktop. It's really pretty sweet.  Simply be selecting the device from the list of devices running KDE Plasma, you can play the video anywhere you wish. In the future, it would be great to extend this functionality to Plasma Media Center as well.

Hit the "Share" icon on the video you want
to send to your PC

KDE Connect Icon
Select KDE Connect from the list

Watch your browser open and start playing your
video on the PC. Pretty sweet, right?

2. Use your PC as a password manager for your phone

This one is simple, yet really practical. Let's assume you download an app for your phone, like, say, Twitter. If you're like me, you use a password generator and a strong password for all of your accounts. Normally, that leaves us two options to get the correct password on to our phone:
  1. Install a cloud password manager to our phone, sync it with our PC, and use it
  2. Type in your password into your phone by opening your PC's password manager app or browser plugin on the PC and then typing into your phone by hand 
Neither is ideal. We can easily fix this by simply copying the password from our PC. In case you did not know, as long as the share clipboard option is checked in your KC settings, your password will be there on your phone waiting to be pasted right into your application! This solves a real headache, as many of us do not want to have a cloud-based password manager on our phones, as doing so is hardly secure.

No matter how you store your passwords on your PC, you'll always be able to copy > paste into your phone with no fuss. The only requirement is that they both be on the same network (i.e. your LAN).

Here is a video explaining the clipboard plugin, in case you're more curious as to this feature in general.

3. Share tweets, newspaper articles, and other links - anything with the share icon - with your PC

In case you might have guessed, we can also use this functionality to take notes on our phone and have them ready and available on our PC. As long as what you are reading on your phone has a share icon, you are golden. It works just like the video example in #1, but opens link urls in our default text editor instead of your browser. I use this one a lot to keep track of articles and links I want to refer to later, as to me this is preferable than trying to save notes on my phone. In the example below, I want to send an article about my favorite NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to my computer from my phone to read later. A few clicks later, and I'm in business.

As usual, just look for the share icon.
Couldn't be easier

KDE Connect link opens on PC
Watch your link open in a text editor. Perfect
for note taking or saving articles for later reading

4. Use your phone's virtual input to control a media center

This one's pretty straight forward. Although KC comes with media controls, sometimes you'll need a bit more granular control of what's happening on the screen. In these cases, simple media controls may not be enough. If you have a media center running Plasma Media Center, Kodi, Plex, or any media application that provides a 10-foot interface and runs on Linux, using your phone as a remote control is easy. In essence we are using our phone as a mouse, making moving around menus and making selections relatively easy. The only requirement here is that your media program needs to be running on KDE Plasma. KC will handle the rest. Nice.

remote input screen
In KDE Connect, for this purpose we need to select
'Remote Input' as our means of communication

Plasma Media Center
Then, we can control our media center
with our phone, as shown. Who needs to
spend money on a dedicated media remote?

5. The final, and Big One - voice dictation!

Yes, you read that right. You can use KC to dictate text straight into your computer! The only requirement here is that your Android on-screen keyboard be capable of  voice input. And 99% of them now do, so unless you're using an obscure 3rd-party keyboard, this trick will work. Just make sure you see the little microphone icon on the lower-left, as shown below.

Think about what this means: You can walk around your house, dictating thoughts and notes straight into your notes application running on the PC! Who needs Dragon Naturally Speaking on Linux anyway? We have open source Plasma!

To me, this is the one I find myself using a lot. When away from the PC, I just keep KWrite open and jot down my thoughts throughout the day by speaking. Heck, even at my PC I can speak much easier than I can type (the understatement of the century there). Here's the rundown:

KDE Connect keyboard input selector
From the remote input screen,
select the keyboard option as shown

use microphone option in KDE Connect
Select the microphone icon,
and start speaking

dictated text
Make sure your text / notes app has focus on
the PC, and your spoken text will go there

And it's as easy as that! If you can say it, you don't have to type it. I haven't tried it yet to do certain things, like dictate a phone call for instance. But for day-to-day stuff when I don't want to be typing, or am in another room, I find it pretty handy. I bet I'm not the only one out there who could see the value in this ability, yet I've not seen anyone else mention it before.

I hope you've found these tips useful. If there are others I've missed, do mention them below. Thanks for reading.



- KDE Connect 1.0 announcement
- KDE Connect – State of the union (March 2018)
- More on KDE Connect

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