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Xfce4 Terminal drop-down running in Xfce

Xfce4 Terminal has been updated recently, two new versions being released: 0.6.0 and 0.6.1, and many new features were added, including an option to use the terminal as a drop-down console, like Guake or Yakuake. But this new feature isn't available as an option in the Xfce4 Terminal preferences, so here's how to use it.

Among the new features added in the latest Xfce4 Terminal 0.6.x, are:
  • Added search dialog;
  • Terminal tab color changes when activity occurs in a tab since last viewed;
  • Support for color presets and some presets were added by default, including "Solarized Dark", my favourite terminal / text editor color scheme that I've been using everywhere for a long time (see: Solarized: A Must Have Color Scheme For Gnome Terminal, Vim, Gedit And Lots More)
  • Drop-down window support when using "--drop-down" parameter

Changelogs: 0.6.0, 0.6.1

Install Xfce Terminal 0.6.x in Ubuntu / Xubuntu

Xfce Terminal 0.6 is available in the Ubuntu 14.04+ repositories (and available by default in Xubuntu 14.04+).

Before installing Xfce4 Terminal, please note that installing it in desktop environments other than Xfce will also install some Xfce packages.

To install Xfce 4 Terminal 0.6.x in Ubuntu / Xubuntu 12.04, firstly add the Xfce 4.10 PPA and do an upgrade: Install Xfce 4.10 In Xubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin Via PPA. This isn't required for Ubuntu 12.10.

Now, to install Xfce4 Terminal 0.6.x in Ubuntu / Xubuntu 12.04 or 12.10, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xubuntu-dev/xfce-4.12
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xfce4-terminal
(you may also want to run an upgrade to get the other Xfce 4.12 development packages from the Xfce 4.12 PPA if you haven't already)

For other Linux distributions, you can download the latest Xfce4 Terminal 0.6.x source from HERE.

How to use the Xfce4 Terminal drop-down feature

To use Xfce4 Terminal as a drop-down window, make sure you're running version 0.6.1 or newer. The terminal doesn't have a GUI option to run as a drop-down (it can only be used as a drop-down terminal by using the "--drop-down" command line parameter), so you must set a keyboard shortcut in your desktop environment to call "xfce4-terminal --drop-down":

Xfce4 Terminal drop-down keyboard shortcut Xfce

- in Xfce: open Settings Manager > Keyboard > Application shortcuts, click "Add" and add the "xfce4-terminal --drop-down" command, then a dialog will pop-up - now press the keyboard shortcut you want to use to open the drop-down terminal (I've used F12).

Xfce4 Terminal drop-down keyboard shortcut in GNOME / Unity

- in GNOME (including Unity): open System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts, under "Custom Shortcuts" click "+" to add a new shortcut, under "Name" enter "Xfce4 Terminal" and under command, use: "xfce4-terminal --drop-down". Then click the shortcut on the right to add a keyboard shortcut and press the key you want to use for triggering the drop-down terminal (I've used F12).

This also means you don't have to add the terminal to your startup applications and instead, the application will start the first time you use the keyboard shortcut you've assigned using the instructions above.

Then, press the keyboard shortcut you've used to open the terminal. Even though initially Xfce4 Terminal doesn't have any custom drop-down settings, now that you're using it as a drop-down terminal, a new tab called "Drop-down" should show up in its preferences, which allows you to tweak the way the drop-down works.

Xfce4 Terminal drop-down running in Unity

Here, if you use Unity (maybe on other DEs too) make sure you uncheck "Use shortcut to focus visible window" so the terminal closes when you press the keyboard shortcut you've set above. Without this, the terminal will only close/retract when it loses focus (unless you select "Keep window open when it loses focus" in which case it won't close when focus is lost) in Unity, although this doesn't occur in Xfce (so you don't have to check this option in Xfce for this purpose).

In the Xfce4 Terminal preferences you can customize a lot of the drop-down terminal settings, including the window width, height, opacity, the duration, horizontal position and so on.

There's also a button on the bottom right of the terminal that you can use to quickly toggle "Keep window open when it loses focus" on / off.

Xfce4 Terminal supports multiple screens so if you select to display the terminal in the center (top center) of the screen, it won't show up on both screens in a dual screen setup, but on the center of the active monitor, something that you can't do with Guake for instance. If you only want it to show up on the main monitor, uncheck the "Move to monitor with pointer" option in the Xfce4 Terminal preferences (Drop-down tab).

Xfce4 Terminal drop-down feature seen on desdelinux.net & lffl.org