Getting to know the Kdenlive video editor


The objective of this post is to present the interface of this video editor and the ideal basic configuration to start working.

In the following posts we will see, little by little, the fundamental tools that we have for making our videos.

Just add that Kdenlive is designed in the same way as professional editors and their way of Edit the videos It is very similar and we can be grateful to its developers for making this magnificent application available to us for free.

In this post I am using the latest stable version, 17.04.3, since I have added the repositories from the author’s website.

For installation on Ubuntu-based and derived systems, from version 16.04 simply run in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kdenlive/kdenlive-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kdenlive

To ensure that we will have all the effects and transitions, it is advisable to make sure that you have the following libraries installed with a:

sudo apt-get install frei0r-plugins swh-plugins dvdauthor dvgrab sonnet-plugins

And totally in Castilian installing the libraries kde-l10n-en of that language for kde applications.

To install these libraries, the simplest thing, in Debian-based distributions, is from the terminal by executing the following command:

sudo apt-get install kde-l10n-es

Kdenlive interface

When we open the editor for the first time we find the workspace of the following image:
01 interface.jpg

  1. This space is the “Project folder“, This is where we load the files that we will use to make our video. We can drag them directly from the folder where we have them to this box.
  2. In this space it shows us, in the right column, the Effects and Transitions, which can be switched with the tab just below and in the left column, of said section 2, their properties.
  3. Monitor display and crop. They are actually two monitors that can be switched using the tabs just below to the left of them, one is the “Clip Monitor” and the other is the “Project Monitor”. In following articles I will explain in detail the function of each one.
  4. This space is the canvas where we will mount our video, it is called “Timeline”(“ Timeline ”in English). We will see it in detail when we start to mount videos. For now, just indicate that just above it we have the most common tools for editing and below to the right the visualization tools, including the indispensable and necessary zoom to facilitate editing tasks. And at the head of each track a padlock to block accidental editing, a speaker to mute the audio and a photographic film icon to hide the video. In this header, if we click with the right mouse button, a menu with the options of the tracks (to add, remove or select) and we can also open the wizard to configure the tracks. To change the name of the same is as simple as double clicking on the name that comes by default.

This is the interface with which we will work, it only remains to say that at the top we have the typical menu bar, File, Edit … etc … from which we will see its functions and tools as we need them; the most common ones are also available in the form of icons in their corresponding sections. If we put the mouse cursor over the icons, we get a banner with a brief explanation indicating its function.

Advice: It is not a bad idea to unfold the menus and read the sections of each one, since surely some of us will already intuit or know what they are for and, of others, there is always the comments section to ask 😉

In my case the only modification that I have made in the interface has been in the space numbered as 2 and is to unite the Properties panel (which can be floating) with the Transitions and Effects panel; thus, instead of having two columns, I have only one in order to have more space, especially when manipulating the properties of the aforementioned effects and transitions.

02 floating window iconsTo do this, it is as simple as clicking on the icon with two overlapping squares in the upper right corner of the properties column, leaving us with a floating window.

03 floating window
If we move this window above the interface, we will see that a transparent blue frame appears below it, indicating the new space that this window will occupy. 04 integrate window

The kdenlive interface is fully configurable and we can change the workspaces according to our needs, overlapping the windows in the same space to access them through tabs, or even having them as floating windows.

Also we can change the sizes of the different sections. To carry out this step we will only have to place the mouse cursor in the limits of the different sections (both horizontal and vertical) until a double arrow appears and drag as we wish.

06 1 sizing windows

First Bug in this easy-to-fix section. It turns out that when we have docked the “Properties” panel together with those of “Transitions and Effects” and we close the application, when we reopen the title bar of said tab it has disappeared even though in the “View” menu we have the option ” Show title bars ”activated.

If we do not want to modify the position of it, nothing happens, but if we want to modify it we can undock said panel (and even those of effects and transitions) by positioning the mouse cursor in the highest place in the panels (just below the line that delimits with the upper toolbar) and when you click it, it undocks as if we were holding it by a tiny title bar.

Now, once undocked, we see that having released them we cannot pick them up again because they lack the aforementioned title bar


This is very easy to solve: we go to the “View” menu and deactivate the “Show title bars” box to activate it again, and the title bars appear again. 05

Recommended settings

Now I am going to expose a series of recommendations on how to configure our workspace in relation to the size of the monitor we have.

Small monitors

Ideal configuration for small monitors: 07 Small monitor
We can see that, in the upper left column, the Project Folder, Properties, Effects and Transitions windows have been grouped into one to save space for the monitor column.

Large monitors

Ideal configuration for large monitors:

08 Large monitor

At the top of the timeline we have three columns.

Two monitors

Ideal configuration when we have two monitors.

09 Double screen

In the main monitor we have a space for the monitor and the timeline and in the secondary monitor (usually located to the right of the main one) the other palettes as floating windows.

Indicate that these are recommendations and everyone takes the liberty of configuring their workspace in the way that best suits their tastes and needs.

In case of closing any of these windows we can reopen them from the “View” menu where by default some are activated and others are not, some are activated automatically when the work process requires them. 10 menu view

Although there are many more aspects that can be configured at the moment, we already have an essential and necessary starting point.


In the “Preferences” menu we have everything related to the application settings and we can start working as it comes by default. It is not necessary to explain the different sections because their function is very clear.

We will focus only on the section on “Preferences> Configure Kdenlive” to cite a bug (in the next paragraph I will detail and solve it) and also to indicate that as they come by default it is ideal to start working. I also want to emphasize that if we do not know something, it is better not to touch it and that if some parameter seems to us that modifying it will better adapt to our needs, then go ahead, we can always change it back if the result is not what you want.

Preferences bug, It turns out that if we start to change parameters and then we regret it and want to restore the default configuration by pressing the “REstore Defaults ”(at least in my case), the result is not the desired one; the problem is that all the parameters of the “Environment” tab are lost.

To correct this problem, the simplest thing is to close the application and then delete the configuration file that is located on your home in the “.config” folder and is called “kdenliverc” or open a terminal and execute the following line:

rm ~/.config/kdenliverc

And finally

It is true that in this post we only learn fundamental aspects about the application interface and little else, but I have always thought that it is essential to know the tools with which we are going to work, since sometimes technical bottlenecks are derived from ignorance of the space of work.

From the next entry, all we will learn will be working on small projects that I will carry out so that, in a practical way, we can see the different possibilities of the application that, I anticipate, are not few.

Also in this multimedia series I will be posting videos where we can visually see the steps that I explain here and the final results.Watch video

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