How the menu works
Clicking on the menu button or icon opens a menu of commands and applications. These are grouped into categories. Double-clicking on the icon for the application itself runs that application.
Figure 9: Mint KDE Menu
Applications you use frequently can be added to a list of ‘Favorites’ which appears in place of or alongside the categories. Cinnamon displays user favourites as a vertical row of icons; MATE allows the user to toggle back and forth between favourites and ‘All applications’ shown in categories. KDE uses a single vertical panel which slides left and right as you select entries and subentries.
The Mint menu also includes one or more options for ‘Places’ – locations such as the Home folder (‘Computer’ in KDE). Selecting one of these will open the File Manager program for that particular GUI and provide access to the files and folders in that location.
You can also use the Mint menu for a text-based search. Click in the text field at the top or bottom of the menu and start to type the name of the application you are looking for. As you type, matching applications will appear in the menu panel. When you can see the one you want, double-click to activate it.
Figure 10: Cinnamon Menu
If you right-click on an application in the menu, rather than left-clicking, a local menu will pop up with several options including ‘Show in my favourites’. This is a quick way to get applications into your Favourites menu. If it’s already in the Favourites you’ll be given the option to remove it again. The same local menu also includes an option to ‘Add to panel’, which will put a launcher widget for the application in the bottom panel on the screen, and ‘Add to desktop’, which will put a launcher icon on the desktop. MATE and Cinnamon also have ‘Launch when I log in’, which will automatically start that application when you log in to your PC.
Menu selection and tweaking
The Mint menu button is actually just a widget in our panel. As such it can be moved around, modified and even deleted. Right-click on the menu button or icon and select ‘Preferences’ to make basic changes to the way the Mint menu works. These may be fairly comprehensive, as in MATE, or relatively basic, as in Cinnamon.
To control the way applications are grouped in the menu, right-click on the menu button or icon and select ‘Edit Menu’ (‘Edit Applications’ in KDE). This opens an application called ‘Alacarte’ which allows you to show or hide items, add new items and (in MATE) drag items into different categories. New items can be ‘Applications’ – links that will run programs – or ‘Locations’ – links that will open specific directories or files.
Figure 11: MATE Menu
Mint maintains a list of startup programs which run automatically when the user logs on. A lot of these are utility applications which just run quietly in the background keeping things together, but if you want to add some applications of your own that you use every time you switch on, it’s easy to do in MATE. Just right-click on the application in the menu and choose ‘Launch when I log in’ (MATE). Cinnamon and KDE are more complicated: you select ‘Startup Applications’ or ‘Startup and Shutdown’, and then indicate where on your system the program is located. I describe the major program directories in Chapter 5 below.