The KHelpCenter interface

The KHelpCenter interface consists of two panes of information.

The toolbar and menus are explained further in the section called “The menus and toolbar”.

Documents contain their own navigation tools, enabling you to move either sequentially through a document, using Next, Previous, and Contents links, or to move around in a less structured manner, using hyperlinks.

Links can take you to other parts of the same document, or to a different document, and you can use the Back (Left pointing arrow) or Forward (Right pointing arrow) icons on the toolbar to move through the documents you have viewed in this session.

The two panes display the contents of the help system, and the help files themselves, on the left and right respectively.

The Contents Pane

The contents pane in KHelpCenter is displayed on the left hand side of the window. As you might expect, you can move the splitter bar, to make sure you can comfortably read the contents of either pane.

The contents pane is further divided into three tabs, one containing a tree view showing all the help information KHelpCenter is aware of, and the other contains the KDE glossary of terms. On the third tab you can configure the Search Options.

The Contents Tab

The Contents tab contains the following default top level entries in the tree view:


The Fundamentals introduce you to the many features of the KDE Plasma Workspaces™ and Applications™ and describe many common tasks you can perform in all Applications™.

Plasma Manual

The Plasma™ Manual is the documentation for the KDE Plasma Workspaces™.

Online Help

A page with links to online help and additional information provided by the KDE community.

Application Manuals

Native KDE application documentation. All KDE applications have documentation in XML format, which are converted to HTML when you view them. This section lists all the KDE applications with a brief description and a link to the full application documentation.

The applications are displayed in a tree structure that echoes the default structure of the K menu, making it easy to find the application you are looking for.

Settings Modules entities

Provide a list of links to various modules in the System Settings application or to modules for Konqueror, Filemanager or Browser.

KInfoCenter Modules

Contains a list of links to various KInfocenter modules documentation.


Contains a list of links to various KIO modules documentation.

UNIX® manual pages

UNIX® man pages are the traditional on-line documentation format for UNIX® systems. Most programs on your system will have a man page. In addition, man pages exist for programming functions and file formats.


Additional non-KDE documentation installed on your system.

Browse Info Pages

TeXinfo documentation is used by many GNU applications, including gcc (the C/C++ compiler), emacs, and many others.

The Search Options tab

Searching the help files is fairly intuitive, enter the word(s) you wish to search for in the text box, choose your options (if any), and press Search. The results display in the viewer pane to the right.


Search is not case sensitive, i.e. uppercase and lowercase characters are considered the same. For example, if you search for Shortcut, results that contain shortcut will be returned as well.

The options available are:


Choose how to search for multiple words. If you choose and, results are returned only if all your search terms are included in the page. or returns results if any of the search terms are found, and boolean lets you search using a combination.

Boolean syntax lets you use the operators AND, OR and NOT to create complex searches. Some examples:

cat and dog

Searches for pages which have both the words cat and dog in them. Pages with only one or the other will not be returned.

cat not dog

Searches for pages with cat in them, but only returns the ones that don't have the word dog in them.

cat or (dog not nose)

Searches for pages which contain cat, and for pages which contain dog but don't contain nose. Pages which contain both cat and nose would be returned, pages containing all three words would not.

If your searches are not returning the results you expect, check carefully you haven't excluded the wrong search term with an errand NOT or a stray brace.

Max. results

Determines the maximum number of results returned from your search.

Scope selection

This is used to select the sections where the search will be done. The available options quickly select the most common option, while Custom allows one to select single sections.

The Man and Info sections

Man pages are the standard UNIX® manual pages, and have been in use for many years on many operating systems. They are extremely thorough, and are the very best place to get information about most UNIX® commands and applications. When people say RTFM, the Manual they are referring to is very often the man page.

The man pages are not perfect. They tend to be in depth, but also extremely technical, often written by developers, and for developers. In some cases this makes them somewhat unfriendly, if not downright impossible for many users to understand. They are, however, the best source of solid information on most command line applications, and very often the only source.

If you've ever wondered what the number is when people write things like man(1) it means which section of the manual the item is in. You will see KHelpCenter uses the numbers to divide the very many man pages into their own sections, making it easier for you to find the information you're looking for, if you're just browsing.

Also available are the Info pages, intended to be a replacement for the man pages. The maintainer of some applications no longer update the man pages, so if there is both a man page and an info page available, the info page is probably the most recent. Most applications have one or the other though. If the application you are looking for help on is a GNU utility, you will most likely find it has an info page, not a man page.

Navigating inside the Info pages

Info documents are arranged hierarchically with each page called a node. All info documents have a Top node, i.e. the opening page. You can return to the Top of an info document by pressing Top.

Prev & Next are used to move to the previous/next page at the current level of the hierarchy.

Clicking on a menu item within a document moves you to a lower level in the hierarchy. You may move up the hierarchy by pressing Up.

Man is treated similarly to info, with the section index being the Top node and each man page on the level below. Man entries are one page long.

The KDE glossary

The glossary provides a quick reference point, where you can look up the definitions of words that may be unfamiliar to you. These range from KDE specific applications and technologies, through to general UNIX® computing terms.

In the left hand pane you will see a tree view, with two choices: Alphabetically or By Topic. Both contain the same entries, sorted differently, to allow you to quickly find the item of interest.

Navigate down the tree views to the left, and items you select will be displayed on the right.

The menus and toolbar

KHelpCenter has a very minimal interface, allowing you to concentrate on getting help rather than learning how to use the help browser.

The icons available to you in the toolbar are as follows:

Toolbar Icons

Table of Contents

Go to the main start page of KHelpCenter.


Go to the previous page you viewed. Click the check mark right to the icon. This displays a list of previously viewed pages. Selecting one will take you directly back to that page.


Go forward one page. This icon is only active if you have already used the Back icon.


Copy text to the clipboard to be pasted in another application.


Find a word or words within the currently visible page.

Increase Font Sizes

Increase the size of the text in the viewer pane.

Decrease Font Sizes

Decrease the size of the text in the viewer pane. This icon is only enabled if you have previously enlarged the text.

The menus contain the following entries:

FilePrint (Ctrl+P)

Print the contents of the currently visible page. Handbooks in PDF format you find on the KDE Documentation Server.

FileQuit (Ctrl+Q)

Close and exit KHelpCenter

EditCopy (Ctrl+C)

Copy the selected text to the clipboard.

EditSelect All (Ctrl+A)

Select all the text in the current page.

EditFind... (Ctrl+F)

Find a word or words in the currently visible page.

ViewSet Encoding

Change the encoding of the current page. Normally, the default setting of Default should be sufficient, but if you are having problems viewing pages written in languages other than English, you may need to choose a specific encoding in this menu.

GoTable of Contents (Alt+Home)

Go to the main start page of KHelpCenter.

GoPrevious Page (Ctrl+PgUp)

Go to the previous page of the current documentation.

GoNext Page (Ctrl+PgDown)

Go to the next page of the current documentation.

GoBack (Alt+Left)

Go back to the previous page you were viewing.

GoForward (Alt+Right)

If you have previously moved back with the back icon or menu entry, you can work your way forward again with this menu entry.

BookmarksAdd Bookmark (Ctrl+B)

Add a bookmark for the current page, the title of the pages is appended to the bookmarks menu. Use the action Delete Bookmark in the context menu of an item to remove it from the menu.

BookmarksNew Bookmarks Folder

Open the New Folder dialog where you can add new submenuitems to the bookmarks menu.

SettingsConfigure Fonts...

Allows you to configure the font family and size used by KHelpCenter.

Additionally KHelpCenter has the common KDE Settings and Help menu items, for more information read the sections about the Settings Menu and Help Menu of the KDE Fundamentals.