Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When I turn off " record activity" in the privacy settings, my activities are still recorded in the "recent files" folder (even when I am using a truecrypt volume).

I haven't figured out a PERMANENT solution to this problem. It sucks to delete history via terminal manually and what happens if I forget?

share|improve this question
One of you should post that as an answer, but beware that does not clear everything (such as bash history and specific applications may also track recent files). – bodhi.zazen May 13 '13 at 17:05
Exactly how are you deleting the history via the terminal? I'd really like a temporary solution. – Hubro Jul 9 '13 at 15:34
in Ubuntu 13.04 the settings.ini file is in /etc/gtk-3.0/settings.ini and the configuration will be applied for all users – user198454 Oct 3 '13 at 16:47

The method with editing ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini doesn't work with Nautilus 3.8. But there is better and simpler way. Simply open dconf-editor, navigate to org->gnome->desktop->privacy and uncheck the remember-recent-files key. That takes care of it, once for all!

share|improve this answer
org->gnome->desktop doesn't have privacy for me in 13.04. – Prinzhorn Jan 4 '14 at 11:35
+1 neat. For noobs like me, dconf-editor just runs in my terminal - it's a UI :) – Ben Jan 18 '14 at 23:07
in Gnome 3.8 Settings -> Privacy -> Turn of Usage & History – Din Jun 29 '14 at 11:17

Disable the Nautilus Recent Files list

To permanently disable any recent files from showing up in the Nautilus Recent sidebar item, open the ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini file with a text editor:

gedit ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini

and under "[Settings]", add the following lines:


If this file does not exist, create it. Make sure the header says "[Settings]" and not "Settings". This is how the file should look after editing it:


(there can be other items below these, of course).

To apply the changes, log out and log back in.

Copied from Webupd8 exercising (cc) BY-NC-SA WebUpd8 : Nautilus 3.6: How To Clear The Recent Files List (Or Disable It)

share|improve this answer
Doesn't work for me on 13.04. – pcworld Aug 20 '13 at 23:27

In 14.04 go to Settings > Security & Privacy > Files & Applications and check "off" Record file and application usage.

share|improve this answer

You have 4 options (AFIK)

  1. Use the guest account. The guest account is confined by apparmor and the session is wiped when you log out.

  2. Each user should have a separate account.

  3. Write a script to clear your private data.

  4. use bleachbit.

share|improve this answer
I suppose you could always boot from a flash drive as well. – bodhi.zazen May 13 '13 at 16:48

As the settings.ini method didn't work for me on Ubuntu 13.04, here is a workaround that should be pretty reliable:

$ rm ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel # clear current file history
$ touch ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel # create a 0-byte history file
$ sudo chattr +i ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel # make it readonly
share|improve this answer

Starting with GTK 3.8 (Ubuntu 13.10 and later) you can just use the following setting in
~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini to disable the "Recent files" feature completely:

gtk-recent-files-enabled = 0
share|improve this answer
didn't work for me on 13.10, dconf-editor solution works well – baptx Dec 9 '13 at 12:44

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.