After two years of development, the Xfce 4.18 is finally here, packed with new features and improvements that make it even better.
Along with the widely used GNOME and KDE Plasma, Xfce is the next most popular desktop environment in the Linux community, forming the “big three” of desktop environments.
So, each new version is eagerly awaited. But now, user expectations are understandably high because of the nearly two-year gap since the last 4.16 release. And the recently released Xfce 4.18 fully justifies them.
What’s New in Xfce 4.18 Desktop Environment
Xfce 4.18, while still lightweight and fast, has improved performance, a more intuitive design, and a slew of additional features that make it the best desktop environment for anyone searching for a modern-looking yet speedy and get-the-job-done work environment.
A brand-new “Shortcuts Editor,” which provides an easy graphical interface for editing component-specific keyboard shortcuts, is now available to users. Currently, the “Shortcut Editor” can only be used for setting up and customizing shortcuts in Thunar File Manager, Xfce4-terminal, and Mousepad. Still, more applications are likely to be added in the future.
The “Filename Input” is another widget among the new features in Xfce 4.18 desktop environment. As the name implies, it allows for the quick creation of empty files via a graphical interface while preventing invalid filenames from being created.
Thunar File Manager
The file manager is the beating heart of any desktop environment, the application the user interacts with most often. So Thunar, Xfce’s file manager, has received a lot of love in the latest release of the desktop environment.
Thunar can now display the count of containing files for directories in the “Size” column in the list view. In addition, users can now add a “File Creation Date” column.
To enable this feature in Thunar, right-click on any column head and pick “Configure Columns” to open the configuration dialog window.
The following Thunar innovation, on the other hand, is my personal favorite. We’ve all made the mistake of accidentally deleting a file. We are aware of the consequences of such an unintentional action. However, Xfce 4.18 and Thunar will make you forget about these worries.
It is now possible to undo and redo basic file operations. More specifically, they are available for move, rename, trash, link, and create actions. A history of the last ten operations is stored by default, although the duration of the history is adjustable. In addition, when an undo/redo is triggered, a notification with a few details is displayed.
Another new feature of Thunar is file highlighting, which makes the user experience more colorful in the literal sense. This means that a strong visual emphasis can now be assigned to the files by changing the background colors as well as the color of the file name. This is done through the “Highlight” tab in the file “Properties”‘ dialog.
We’ll wrap up our look at Thunar’s new features in Xfce 4.18 with two things. First, it now supports split panes. Furthermore, users can move the pane separator, and its location is saved.
Second, Thunar now includes an image preview side pane. You can use the “Embedded”‘ option, which takes no extra space but hides elements of the left-side window. You can also choose the “Standalone”‘ mode, which will display some basic information in a separate pane on the right. This functionality is available through Thunar’s “View” menu.
On top of that, Thunar now supports recursive searches, and the toolbar can be customized to meet your specific requirements. “Recently used files” and “Bookmark Menu” have also received some minor improvements.
Because the DateTime and Clock plugins effectively serve overlapping functionality, the developers consolidated them into a single plugin in Xfce 4.18 to avoid additional complexity caused by their parallel development.
On top of that, the redesigned Clock plugin now includes a sleep monitor and a new binary time mode. All available layouts include Analog, Binary, Digital, Fuzzy, and LCD.
Other Xfce 4.18 Enhancements
The display settings in Xfce 4.18 have been improved slightly, and you can now choose what to do when new monitors are plugged in. More importantly, the search entry for “Settings Manager” was a bit simplified. It will now always be visible, with no sliders or buttons.
Furthermore, when a new theme is selected, the option to automatically set a matching xfwm4 theme, if provided, is now available.
Under the hood, scaling has been improved with UI scaling support and a fix for several blurry icons in the core components when scaling is utilized. This will be especially handy for high-resolution screens.
We’ll conclude our review of what’s new in Xfce 4.18 by noting that setting and unsetting default apps for specific mime types have also been improved. This means that the context menu received a dedicated item, “Set Default Application,” which will open the “Application Chooser Dialog” with “Use as Default” preselected.
Moreover, the dialog now includes a “Default Application” section to indicate which default application is currently selected.
As we stated in the title of this article, Xfce 4.18 desktop environment has arrived, and it is better than ever. This release represents a significant advancement in its development.
With many new features and improvements, this latest version of Xfce offers users a more seamless and intuitive experience. Whether you are a new user or a long-time Xfce fan, this latest version is worth checking out.
The main question that users are now asking is when they will be able to try out all of the new features coming with Xfce 4.18. As always, users of rolling release Linux distributions, such as Arch Linux, Void, openSUSE Tumbleweed, etc., are expected to get the latest package versions in their repositories first, probably in the next few weeks.
Unfortunately, other users will have to wait for the release of new Xfce-centric spins of some of the more popular Linux distributions, such as Xubuntu, which means spring 2023.