How to Clear the History Within the Ubuntu Dash

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. 

Here's how to clear the history and how to restrict the types of information that are displayed within the dash.

The Security and Privacy Settings Screen

Screenshot of 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.

Change the Recent History Settings

Screenshot of changing 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

How to Exclude Certain Applications From the Recent History

Screenshot showing how to 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 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. 

How to Exclude Certain Folders From the Recent History

Screenshot showing how to 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. 

Clear the Recent Usage From the Ubuntu Dash

Screenshot of Clearing 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.

How to Toggle the Online Results

Screenshot showing how to 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 that 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. 

How to Stop Ubuntu Sending Data Back to Canonical

Screenshot showing how to 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.