How to clear Unity Dash search history in Ubuntu

There is no need of introduction for Unity, right? Unity is the default desktop environment for Ubuntu Operating system. Unity has a cool option called ‘Dash’ that allows you open or search installed applications, files, folders, images, audio, videos, and all items in your Ubuntu desktop. To put simply, Dash is the Ubuntu’s version of the start menu. Unity Dash is very useful when you forgot where did you save the recently used files or folders or any items after closing them. To view any recently closed/used items, Just click the Unity Dash icon on the top of the Unity launcher or Super key (Windows key in keyboard), and you will find the recently used items.

Here is how Dash search bar looks like in my Ubuntu 16.04 desktop.

Unity Dash search bar

Unity Dash search bar

As you see in the above screenshot, there few recently opened and used applications, files and folders in my Unity Dash.

Clear Unity Dash search in Ubuntu 16.04

Though Unity Dash search bar is useful, Sometimes you might not want to see the recent used items in the dash search bar, especially in a shared system in your network. You might not want your family or friends to see what you have been searching mostly in the Unity Dash search bar. Or you don’t want to see the cluttered items all over your Dash search bar. I used to keep my system often as clean as possible. If you don’t like to see the search items anymore and want to clear them periodically, here is the simple steps to clear Ubuntu’s Unity Dash search bar history.

Select ‘System settings’ option from gear box on the top right corner of your Ubuntu desktop. Refer the attached screenshot below.

Open Ubuntu's System settings

Open Ubuntu’s System settings

From the System Settings window, click Security & privacy icon on the top row.

Ubuntu System settings window

Ubuntu System settings window

In the Security & Privacy window, click on ‘Files & Applications’ tab, and then click ‘Clear Usage Data’ button.

Clear Ubuntu dash search bar history

Clear Ubuntu dash search bar history

You’ll see the following options in the next window.

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

Just choose an option of your choice, and click OK to clear the the history.

Clear Unity dash history

Clear Unity dash history

Click Yes to confirm. Please note that this action cannot be undone. Your Dash search history will be gone forever.


That’s it. Your Unity Dash search bar history has been cleared now.

Now, click on the Unity dash search bar. You will not see any recent items.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Desktop [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_017

Permanently turn off Dash search bar history feature

If you don’t want to see any recently opened items and want to completely turn off the dash search history feature, just slide the option “Record file and application usage” option from “ON” to “Off” position. This will completely turn off the Dash search history, and you will never see any recent items in the search bar anymore.

Turn off Dash's search history

Turn off Dash’s search history

If you don’t want to completely turn off this feature, you can customize which category should be visible in the search history. Here is the the default included categories.

  • Chat logs
  • Documents
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Presentations
  • Spreadsheets
  • Videos
Dash search include categories

Dash search include categories

These categories will be shown in the search history when you access them each time. If you don’t want them to be appear in the search history, just uncheck them.

Also, you can exclude certain applications, and folders from Dash search history. To do that, just click on the plus (+) sign in the left bottom and add the folders or applications that you don’t wish to appear in the history.

Exclude folders and applications in Unity dash history

Exclude folders and applications in Unity dash history

Exclude folders from Dash search history

By using this option, we can exclude some folders that we don’t wish to see in the search history. To do so, click the plus sign in Files & Applications window and select “Add folder” option.

Exclude folders

Exclude folders

Select the folders you want to exclude and click Ok.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Desktop [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_009

As you see in the above screenshot, we have added the ‘Downloads’ folder in the exclude list, so it won’t be appear in the search history anymore.

Exclude applications from Dash search history

Similarly, we can exclude some applications that we don’t want to see in the history. To do that, click (+) sign and select “Add Application” option. Select the application to exclude and click OK.

Exclude application

Exclude application

The list of excluded items will be shown in the Exclude column.

List of excluded items

List of excluded items

These items will not appear in the Dash search bar anymore. Likewise, you can add as many items as you want.

Unity Dash search feature comes in handy while searching anything in your Ubuntu desktop. You don’t need to install any additional software to search items locally on your Ubuntu desktop. However, if you find Dash search feature is annoying, you can turn it off as well.

You may already aware about “Unity online search option is disabled by default in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS”.

That’s all for now. Hope this helps.


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