How to Control Dash Search Results in Ubuntu

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Ubuntu transitioned towards the modern desktop paradigm with the introduction of Dash and Launcher. These UI elements work in tandem to provide you with information and content needed instantly. The Dash does for the desktop what Google does for the Internet. It brings you results you need so that you won't have to sift through dozens of files. It blends results from your desktop and the web making it easier to instantly find what you are looking. When it comes to looking for apps, the Dash also shows results from the Ubuntu Software Center so that you can discover new ones whilst you search for your installed app. Similarly, let's say when you're looking for a movie in your library, Ubuntu shows results from YouTube and other online services. Furthermore, in Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) onwards, you'll find results from Amazon that relate to your query.

As intuitive as they sound, these modern features have managed to annoy a few people. The most common problem users face is the appearance of files that they don't want to see. Also, online and social results in Dash can be quite unnerving for more minimalism inclined folks. So, if you're one of those people who want the Dash under your complete control, here is how to take the Dash search results under your command:

Control which Folders are Monitored by Unity

Sometimes you might choose to store some sensitive data in one or two folders. If you share your computer with someone else, you don’t want that data to show up on the Dash. To avoid that, there’s a simple way to blacklist your sensitive data from appearing in Dash results. To do that, open up the Dash (Super key) and search for ‘Privacy’. A new window will open up letting you configure Privacy settings of the system.

From there, you can add as many folders as you want. Results from those folders won’t be shown on the Dash.

Enable or Disable Online Search Results

Ubuntu 12.10 announced the inclusion of Amazon affiliate results into the Dash search. While Ubuntu is financially benefiting from the endeavor, many users see this not only as a breach of privacy but also as an unnecessary feature. Moreover, Amazon search results make use of your Internet connection too further slowing down the results a bit. So, if you’re one of those people annoyed by Amazon showing up in your Dash, here’s how to fix that:

Go to ‘Privacy’ settings again. From there click on the ‘Search Results’ tab (which is also the first tab). From there, you can turn off online search results by turning off the switch.

Deleting Activities

If you want to delete your Dash history (much like clearing browsing history), simply go to the ‘Recent Items’ tab. From there, you can choose whether to delete history from the past hour, past week, past day or from a specific time span (Advanced). Also, if you want to start over, simply choose the option that lets you clear all activities. This will erase all your Dash records thus giving you a brand new Dash experience.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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