How To Clear The History Within The Ubuntu Dash

Introduction

The Dash within Ubuntu's Unity desktop shows the most recently used applications and files. This is in general a useful feature because it makes it easier to find and reload them.

There are however times when you don't want the history to be displayed. Maybe the list is just getting too long and you want to clear it temporarily or maybe you want to only see the history for certain applications and certain files. 

This guide shows you how to clear the history and how to restrict the types of information that are displayed within the dash.

01
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The Security And Privacy Settings Screen

Clear Ubuntu Search History
Clear Ubuntu Search History.

Click the settings icon on the Ubuntu Launcher (it looks like a cog with a spanner).

The "All Settings" screen will appear. On the top row there is an icon called "Security & Privacy".

Click on the icon.

The "Security & Privacy" screen has four tabs:

  • Security 
  • Files And Applications
  • Search
  • Diagnostics

Click on the "Files And Applications" tab.

02
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Change The Recent History Settings

Change The Recent History Settings
Change The Recent History Settings.

If you don't want to see any recent history slide the "Record file and application usage" option to the "Off" position.

It is actually a nice feature to see recent files and applications because it makes it easier to re-open them.

A better approach is to uncheck the categories you don’t wish to see. You can choose to show or not show any of the following categories:

  • Chat logs

  • Documents

  • Music

  • Pictures

  • Presentations

  • Spreadsheets

  • Videos

03
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How To Exclude Certain Applications From The Recent History

Exclude Applications In Recent Dash History
Exclude Applications In Recent Dash History.

You can exclude certain applications from the history by clicking on the plus symbol at the bottom of the "Files & Applications" tab.

Two options will appear:

  • Add Folder
  • Add Application

When you click the "Add Application" option a list of applications will be displayed.

To exclude them from the recent history choose an application and click OK.

You can remove them from the exclusion list by clicking on the item in the list on the "Files & Applications" tab and pressing the minus icon. 

04
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How To Exclude Certain Folders From The Recent History

Exclude Files From The Recent History
Exclude Files From The Recent History.

You can choose to exclude folders from the recent history within the Dash. Imagine you have been searching for gift ideas for your wedding anniversary and have documents and images about a secret holiday.

The surprise would be ruined if you opened the Dash whilst your wife was looking at your screen and she happened to see the results in the recent history.

To exclude certain folders click on the plus icon at the bottom of the "Files & Applications" tab and select "Add Folder".

You can now navigate to the folders you wish to exclude. Select a folder and press the "OK" button to hide that folder and its contents from the Dash.

To can remove the folders from the exclusion list by clicking on the item in the list on the "Files & Applications" tab and pressing the minus icon. 

05
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Clear The Recent Usage From The Ubuntu Dash

Clear Recent Usage From Dash
Clear Recent Usage From Dash.

To clear the recent usage from the Dash you can click the "Clear usage data" button on the "Files & Applications" tab.

A list of potential options will appear as follows:

  • In the past hour
  • In the past day
  • In the past week
  • Between two dates
  • From all time

When you choose an option and click OK a message will appear asking whether you are sure.

Choose OK to clear the history or Cancel to leave it as it is.

06
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How To Toggle The Online Results

Turn Online Search Results On And Off In Unity
Turn Online Search Results On And Off In Unity.

As of the latest version of Ubuntu the online results are now hidden from the Dash.

To turn the online results back on click on the "Search" tab within the "Security & Privacy" screen.

There is a single option which reads "When searching in the dash include online search results".

Move the slider into the "ON" position to turn on online results in the dash or move it to "OFF" to hide online results. 

07
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How To Stop Ubuntu Sending Data Back To Canonical

Stop Sending Data Back To Canonical
Stop Sending Data Back To Canonical.

By default Ubuntu sends certain types of information back to Canonical.

You can read more about this within the Privacy Policy.

There are two types of information sent back to Canonical:

  • Error reports
  • Usage data

The error reports are useful for the Ubuntu developers to help them fix bugs.

The usage data is potentially used for working out how to tweak memory usage, work on new features and provide better hardware support.

Depending on your view of how information is captured you can turn off one or both of these settings by clicking on the "Diagnostics" tab within "Security & Privacy".

Simply uncheck the boxes next to the information you do not wish to be sent back to Canonical.

You can also see error reports that you have sent previously by clicking on the "Show Previous Reports" link on the "Diagnostics" tab.

Summary