I'm just talking about the standard KDE desktop. After a while (many days) of running the task bar stops working properly. This is due to some sort of undiagnosed bug but that's really not my boggle at the moment. It's fixed as soon as I log out and in again.

I have to close everything and ongoing processes like virtual machines have to shut down. It's a big pain. It typically means I put up with a bit of flickering for many days.

Is there a way to just reload the desktop without bombing all the running applications?

10 Answers 10


In KDE 4, you can do:

killall plasma-desktop #to stop it
kstart plasma-desktop #to restart it

In KDE 5 use:

killall plasmashell #to stop it
kstart plasmashell #to restart it

In KDE > 5.10 use:

kquitapp5 plasmashell
kstart5 plasmashell

Sometimes plasmashell is not responding so kquitapp5 fails after a timeout and you have to get back to killall. So in a nutshell, I would do :

# For KDE 4
killall plasma-desktop && kstart plasma-desktop

# For KDE 5 < 5.10
killall plasmashell && kstart plasma-desktop

# For KDE > 5.10
kquitapp5 plasmashell || killall plasmashell && kstart5 plasmashell

Remarks :

  1. If you are not sure which KDE version your run, kinfocenter --version will tell you.
  2. you can skip the kquitapp5 plasmashell || part if you don't want to be stuck in the timeout when plasmashell is not responding.
  • 13
    Oddly enough these can both be run from the Alt-F2 run dialogue (I would have thought killing plasma would have inhibited it the second time) but yeah, works well and stops the flickering.
    – Oli
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 10:39
  • 4
    This doesn't work with KDE 5 Plasma.
    – Geremia
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 3:04
  • 7
    it's plasmashell instead of plasma-desktop in kde5
    – dorien
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 1:04
  • 8
    on ArchLinux it's kstart5 plasmashell for KDE5 Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 10:36
  • 13
    I added this to System Settings -> Shortcuts -> Custom Shortcuts, so now I can press Ctrl-Alt-Backspace to restart Plasma (I picked that particular combination because historically it restarts X.org). Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 1:11

In KDE5 use "kstart plasmashell" to restart the plasmashell as a service instead of plasmashell &. If you use it that way it 's run as an independed service not connected to the current terminal session (meaning you can close the terminal without the process getting terminated). TLDR:

KDE5 (in Terminal):

killall plasmashell
kstart plasmashell
  • Just wanted to say thanks for this! Once in a while Plasma 5 will place this strange black bar at the bottom of my screen just above the taskbar that sits above all windows covering whatever is underneath (you can still interact with stuff underneath you just can't see anything under the bar). No idea what causes it but killall plasmashell ; kstart plasmashell fixes it :)
    – riskable
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 13:30
  • the simplest way to do it is using kquitapp5 for Plasma 5. askubuntu.com/a/663702/72652 (best done in KRunner rather than in a terminal) Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 16:43
  • kstart is not found. I needed to use kstart5 (Debian 11) Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 16:04

Well I didn't expect this to work (and it's not exactly what the question asks for) but pressing Alt+F2 and running:

kwin --replace

This reloads KDE's compositor and that seems to fix the flickering. I guess it's a factor into my particular issue.

  • 12
    Tried this in Kubuntu 15.04. The command in Kde 5 will be kwin_x11 or kwin_wayland depending on the server running behind
    – zurdo
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 20:47
  • 1
    I actually solved using a combination of all solutions: killall plasmashell kwin --replace (ALT-F2) kstart plasmashell withoud kwin --replace, plasmashell did't restart (Kubuntu 16.04)
    – clobrano
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 9:13
  • 2
    The solution that worked for me was a mix of accepted answer and this one killall plasmashell; kwin --replace & kstart plasmashell & exit (the & exit since i was running it in terminal, otherwise the composer remained dependent on the terminal window being open as instructed here)
    – Carolus
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 13:52
  • 4
    Damn this actually worked fair and square.Thank you
    – Suleman
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 20:01
  • ah, that's the equivalent to gnome's f2 + r + enter .
    – abu_bua
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 23:59

The window manager kwin is responsible for moving around windows, etc. That can be restarted by this:

kstart kwin --replace

The kstart prefix is just to not run it as a subprocess in the current terminal, such that you can close the terminal afterwards.

plasmashell is responsible for the background and other shell things. Restarting that should work like this:

killall plasmashell
kstart plasmashell

Note that this did not bring back the menu for me.

Also, interestingly, this again breaks kwin for me, i.e. I'm not able to move windows around anymore. On console, I get sth like QXcbConnection: XCB error: 3 (BadWindow), sequence: ..., resource id: ..., major code: 15 (QueryTree), minor code: 0.


Some times ago, the plasma desktop started to have issues when I have attached a USB hub with USB-C and a second monitor. The window panel does not show any icons.

When I restart plasma by

plasmashell --replace &

Everything works fine again. My current plasma version is 5.26.4.

  • 2
    This is the new option of plasmashell and does replace the previous approach with kquitapp5 and kstart5. Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 15:32
  • One caveat is that plasmashell --replace & keeps generating outputs unlike kstart5 that exits shortly. Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 15:37

I looked this up because I had an issue where I couldn't open any KDE settings menus, but I didn't really want to reboot or log out. I found that the best way to do it (in KDE 5 at least) is by using krunner (Alt+F2) to killall plasmashell then immediately afterwards, plasmashell. I tried doing it in a Konsole window, using killall plasmashell and then plasmashell & and this worked, but as soon as I closed the Konsole window, plasma would close as well. Even though you seemed to resolve your issue, I figured I would post it for people coming along in the future needing to restart plasma.

In KDE 4, just replace plasmashell with plasma-desktop


I find I'm always having trouble with ksycoca5, and this seems to be the reason plasmashell gets in a strop, and also stops plasmashell restarting. To solve this I did:

$ mv ~/.cache/ksycoca5* /tmp
$ killall plasmashell buildksycoca5; kstart plasmashell

OK .. I am running OpenSuse Leap 15.1 running KDE5 Plasma. Periodically, my X environment is corrupted (after about 24 hours of leaving my machine running) and I get "KLauncher could not be reached via D-Bus. Error when calling start_service_by_desktop_path: Not connected to D-Bus server"

The result of this is that while my desktop still functions I can't launch any applications which use KLauncher -- very annoying. (NOTE: also my xwindows vncserver appears to launch 99 instances of display windows I could attach to -- which isnt right -- I havent corrected this yet but I will). However, I FOUND the answer to the above issue to restart KDE 5 Plasma in my environment without a reboot:

1) killall plasmashell 2) kstart5 plasmashell kwin

This restarts everything as if the system is freshly booted. Hope this helps



I also tried something like:

killall plasmashell; kstart plasmashell

Or even this:

killall plasmashell; kwin --replace && kstart plasmashell

But, for, unknown reasons, it didn't work.

Plasma desktop restarting began to work after I added sleeps among the commands:

killall plasmashell ; sleep 3 ; kwin --replace ; sleep 5 ; kstart plasmashell

Finally, I've noticed that, when type 'kwin|plasma' in KSysGuard filter field, it reports that after killing plasmashell, such *.so files are still present: desktop.so, file.so. We must kill them too. Otherwise, we'll have copies of that files after each restart.

So, the final plasma desktop restarting commands are:

killall plasmashell desktop.so file.so ; sleep 5 ; kwin --replace ; sleep 5 ; kstart plasmashell

In KDE4 I find the memory usage ramps up to around a gigglebite pretty rapidly because opening programs progressively uses more RAM, but closing them does not release it. This is in Mint 17.3 with KDE but seems to affect pretty well ALL KDE plasma 4 systems.

I got sick of logging in and out, or using ALT + F2 to kill and restart plasma. So now I just have a script (set as executable) sitting on the panel..

killall plasma-desktop 
plasma-desktop & 

Click on the icon and plasma does a close and restart over about 15 seconds or so. I can still use open programs on whichever virtual desktop I am currently using while plasma is restarting.

  • gigglebyte made me giggle
    – 0xLogN
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 3:15

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