How to Clear the History Within the Ubuntu Dash

Use the 'Security & Privacy' tool to tweak Dash settings

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.

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

The Dash was deprecated by Canonical, the maker of Ubuntu, in 2016. Modern releases, including the current Long Term Support version, do not use Unity. Lifewire retains this content on behalf of people using old versions of Ubuntu, although we recommend upgrading to a current release.

The Security and Privacy Settings Screen

Screenshot of Ubuntu Search History

Click the settings icon on the Ubuntu Launcher. Select Security & Privacy > Files And Applications.

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.

Optionally, 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

Exclude certain applications from the history by clicking + 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 displays. To exclude any of them from recent history, choose an application and click OK.

Remove them from the exclusion list by clicking the item in the list on the Files & Applications tab and pressing -

How to Exclude Certain Folders From the Recent History

Screenshot showing how to Exclude Files From The Recent History

To exclude certain folders click + at the bottom of the Files & Applications tab and select Add Folder. Select a folder and press the OK button to hide that folder and its contents from the Dash.

Remove the folders from the exclusion list by clicking 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, 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

Your online search history is hidden from the Dash by default. To turn the online results back on, click the ​Search tab within the Security & Privacy screen.

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 practice 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.

Turn off one or both of these settings by clicking the Diagnostics tab within Security & Privacy. 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 the Show Previous Reports link on the Diagnostics tab.