Guide to the Ubuntu Unity Dash

The Ubuntu Unity Dash

Lifewire / Gary Newell

Ubuntu's Unity Dash is used to navigate around Ubuntu. It can be used to search for files and applications, listen to music, watch videos, view your photos and monitor your online accounts such as Google+ and Twitter.

What Is the Command to Open the Unity Dash?

To access the Dash within Unity, click on the top button on the launcher (The Ubuntu Logo) or press the super key on your keyboard (The super key is the one that looks like the Windows logo on most computers).

Unity Scopes and Lenses

Unity implements something called scopes and lenses. When you first open the Dash you will see a number of icons at the bottom of the screen.

Clicking on each of the icons will display a new lens.

The following Lenses are installed by default:

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

On each lens, there are things called scopes. Scopes provide the data for a lens. For instance, on the music lens, the data is retrieved via the Rhythmbox scope. On the photos lens, the data is provided by Shotwell.

If you decide to uninstall Rhythmbox and decide to install another audio player such as Audacious you can install the Audacious scope to view your music in the music lens.

Useful Ubuntu Dash Navigation Keyboard Shortcuts

The following shortcuts take you to a particular lens.

  • Super key — Home Lens
  • Super+A keys — Application Lens
  • Super+F keys — File Lens
  • Super+M keys — Music Lens
  • Super+V keys — Video Lens
  • Super+C keys — Photo Lens
  • Ctrl+Tab — Switch between lenses

The Home Lens

The Home Lens is the default view when you press the super key on the keyboard.

You will see 2 categories:

  • Applications
  • Files And Folders

You will only see a list of about 6 icons for each category but you can expand the lists to show more by clicking on the links See more results.

If you click on the Filter Results link you will see lists of categories and sources.

The categories currently selected will be applications and files. Clicking on more categories will display them on the home page.

The sources determine where the information comes from.

The Application Lens 

The application lens shows 3 categories:

  • Recently used applications
  • Installed applications
  • Dash plugins

You can expand any of these categories by clicking on the See more results links.

The filter link in the top right corner lets you filter by application type. There are 14 in total:

  • Accessibility
  • Accessories
  • Customization
  • Dash Plugins
  • Developer
  • Education
  • Fonts
  • Games
  • Graphics
  • Internet
  • Media
  • Office
  • Science
  • System

You can also filter by sources such as locally installed applications or software center applications.

The File Lens

 The Unity File Lens shows the following categories:

  • Recently accessed files
  • Downloads
  • Folders

By default, only a handful of results are displayed. You can show more results by clicking on the See more results links.

The filter for the files lens lets you filter in three different ways:

  • By date
  • By file type
  • By file size

You can view files in the last 7 days, last 30 days and the last year and you can filter by these types:

  • Audio
  • Documents
  • Folders
  • Images
  • Other
  • Presentations
  • Videos

The size filter has the following options:

  • 1 kb
  • 100 kb
  • 1 mb
  • 10 mb
  • 100 mb
  • 1 gb
  • >1 gb

The Video Lens

The video lens lets you search for local and online videos although you will have to turn online results on before it will work. (covered later on in the guide).

The video lens doesn't have any filters but you can use the search bar to find the videos you would like to watch.

The Music Lens

The music lens lets you view the audio files that are installed on your system and play them from the desktop.

Before it will work however you need to open Rhythmbox and import music into your folders.

After the music has been imported you can filter the results in the Dash by decade or by genre.

The genres are as follows:

  • Blues
  • Classical
  • Country
  • Disco
  • Funk
  • Rock
  • Metal
  • Hip Hop
  • House
  • New Wave
  • R&B
  • Punk
  • Jazz
  • Pop
  • Reggae
  • Soul
  • Techno
  • Other

The Photo Lens

The photo lens lets you look at your photos via the Dash. As with the music lens you need to import the photos.

To import your photos open Shotwell and import the folders you wish to import.

You will now be able to open the photos lens.

The filter results option allows you to filter by date.

Enable Online Search

You can activate online results by following these instructions.

Open the Dash and search for "Security". When the Security & Privacy icon appears click on it.

Click on the Search tab.

There is an option on the screen called When searching in the Dash include online search results.

By default, the setting will be set to off. Click on the switch to turn it on.

You will now be able to search Wikipedia, online videos and other online sources.