Guide to the Ubuntu Unity Dash

Unity Dash in Ubuntu is long gone, but here's how it worked

Ubuntu's Unity Dash served as a user interface for Ubuntu to search for files and applications, listen to music, watch videos, view photos, and monitor online social accounts, such as Twitter.

Ubuntu discontinued Unity/Dash in 2017; this feature hasn't been available in Ubuntu for several years. If you're running a version of Ubuntu that still uses the Dash, it's time to upgrade. This information is retained for historical purposes.

Learn Ubuntu - The Unity Dash
Learn Ubuntu - The Unity Dash.

Unity Scopes and Lenses

Unity employed scopes and lenses. When you first opened the Dash, you saw several icons at the bottom of the screen. Clicking each of the icons displayed a new lens.

The following Lenses were installed by default:

  • Home 
  • Applications
  • Files
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Photos

Each lens offered attributes called scopes. Scopes provided the data for a lens. For example, on the music lens, the data was retrieved through the Rhythmbox scope. On the photos lens, the data was provided by Shotwell.

If you decided to uninstall Rhythmbox and install another audio player, such as Audacious, you'd install the Audacious scope to view your music in the music lens.

The Home Lens

The Home Lens was the default view when you pressed the Super key on the keyboard. It displayed applications, files and folders.

You only saw a list of about six icons for each category, but you could expand the lists to show more by clicking on the links' See more results. If you clicked on the Filter Results link, you saw lists of categories and sources.

The Application Lens 

The application lens showed three categories:

  • Recently used applications
  • Installed applications
  • Dash plug-ins

You could expand any of these categories by clicking on the See more results links. The filter link in the top right corner let you filter by application type. You could also filter by sources, such as locally installed applications or Software Center applications.

The File Lens

 The Unity File Lens showed the following categories:

  • Recently accessed files
  • Downloads
  • Folders

By default, only a handful of results were displayed. You could see more results by clicking the See more results links. You'd then filter by date, file type and file size.

The Video Lens

The video lens searched for local and online videos, although you had to turn online results on before it worked. The video lens didn't have any filters, but you could use the search bar to find specific videos.

The Music Lens

The music lens viewed the audio files that were installed on your system and then played them from the desktop.

Before it worked, however, you'd need to open Rhythmbox and import music into your folders. After the music was imported, you could filter the results in the Dash by decade or by genre.

The Photo Lens

The photo lens let you look at your photos through the Dash. As with the music lens, you needed to first import the photos using Shotwell.

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