How to Clear the History Within the Ubuntu Dash

Use the Security & Privacy tool to tweak Dash settings

The Dash in Ubuntu's Unity desktop shows the most recently used applications and files. This is 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 displayed on 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

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

Ubuntu Security & Privacy settings with Files & Applications highlighted

Change the Recent History Settings

If you don't want to see any recent history, move the slider next to Record file and application usage option to the Off position.

Changing the recent history settings in Ubuntu Dash

Optionally, uncheck the categories you don’t want 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

Exclude certain applications from the history by clicking + at the bottom of the Files & Applications tab.

The Ubuntu Dash Files & Applications screen with the plus sign highlighted

Two options 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.

List of applications in Ubuntu Dash with OK highlighted

Remove applications from the exclusion list by clicking the item in the list on the Files & Applications tab and pressing the minus sign (-). 

How to Exclude Certain Folders 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.

Ubuntu Dash folder list with OK highlighted

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

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

Ubuntu Dash Files & Applications screen with Clear Usage Data highlighted

The list of potential options includes:

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

Choose one of the options and click OK. A message appear asking whether you are sure. Choose OK to clear the history or Cancel to leave it as it is.

Clear Usage Data options in Ubuntu Dash

How to Toggle the Online Results

Your online search history is hidden from the Dash by default. To turn on the online results, 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.

Toggle to turn online search results on and off

How to Stop Ubuntu Sending Data to Canonical

By default, Ubuntu sends certain types of information back to Canonical. You can read more about this practice in the Privacy Policy.

Two types of information are sent 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 in Security & Privacy. Uncheck the boxes next to the information you do not want to be sent to Canonical.

The Diagnostics tab in Diagnostics tab in Ubuntu Security & Privacy

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