Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 17:21

This guide will explain you how to use XFCE desktop for daily usage. After our fourth KDE guide, now it is our fifth about XFCE. XFCE is an user friendly desktop with wide ability for customization. XFCE is . XFCE allows users to use the desktop just by clicking. XFCE is famous of being used as default desktop on Xubuntu. This guide will not explain any of XFCE technical or historical side. This article is written for those who never use Linux or XFCE before. 


A default XFCE desktop consists of several parts.
  1. Menu. 
  2. Applet (in this example, Desktop Switcher). 
  3. Taskbar. 
  4. System Tray.
  5. Date & Time.
  6. Desktop Shortcuts.


For you Windows users or anyone never seen XFCE before, there are some concepts to help you understand XFCE before you use it. 

  1. XFCE desktop has two main components, panel and applet. It is different with Windows 
  2. XFCE desktop has different layout with Windows, while XFCE place its panel on top. 
  3. XFCE has taskbar and tray on the menu panel, same with Windows. 
  4. XFCE allows desktop shortcut like Windows or Mac OS X, different with GNOME. 
  5. XFCE has some KDE concepts in one side, and some GNOME concepts in other side. 

Launch Apps

To launch an app in XFCE, open menu and search. Or open menu and click. 

Create Shortcut

To create a desktop shortcut, similar with Windows and KDE, open menu > right-click on one app > Add to Desktop.


To switch between running apps in XFCE, same with another desktop, press Alt+Tab.

Multiple Desktop

Actually, XFCE default doesn't have workspace switcher yet. But you may add it yourself by adding a Switcher applet. In this example, I place my switcher on the left of menu. I have 4 desktops here (represented in 4 boxes above).

Work with Workspaces

To wrk with workspace, simple place your app on its own workspace. For example, place Firefox on desktop 1, Libreoffice in desktop 2, and so on. To move an app window, simple use the taskbar. Right click on one app (i.e. File Manager like picture above) > select Move to Another Workspace > select number.

System Tray

XFCE has a system tray similar to GNOME's one. From left to right: network manager, battery indicatr (for laptops), sound indicator, and calendar.