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Question 1) The dash always open on a home (“shortcuts”) tab (“lens“). I don't have any need for it (browser and e-mail client manually installed, no virtual music player, no photo manager…).

Is there a way to remove this lens, or customize its content, or make another lens the default one?

Question 2) (By the way, does someone know how to customize preferred applications more precisely than with information→defaults that shows only few choices? Perhaps via gconf or somewhere?)

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the 11.10 version. – Nicolas Oct 23 '11 at 18:58
Please don't ask two separate question in one post on AskUbuntu. The point is for the questions and answers to be reusable. Now we have two questions in one, and two completely different answers. This makes the question and answers less useful to others. For now, I'll edit your question and the two answers to reflect this, but please try to avoid it in the future. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Feb 11 '12 at 18:33

This is an answer to Question 1:

That's not customizable in 11.10. Well, of course, you could always change it in the source code, but I'm guessing that's not what you're looking for.

However, you might be glad to know that this has been changed in Precise (to become 12.04). We now have the most recently used apps that are not on your launcher, the most recently used files and the most recent downloads.

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This is an an answer to Question 2:

Click "System Settings", go to "System Info", select "Default Applications". I installed Chrome and selected it as my default application for web browsing. Now my dash home shows Chrome as my default browser.

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This will be changed significantly in 12.04. As additional answer to question 2

Three out of the bottom 4 icons can be adjusted as noted by changing the default - internet browser;email;music, the photo viewer choice is coded in the source

If your preferred is not listed in System Settings ... you could probably track down in gconf-editor but no need. Each of the 3 is set from 1 specific mimetype, so it can be altered in ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list in the [Default Applications] section.

They are

browser - x-scheme-handler/http=

email - x-scheme-handler/mailto=

music - audio/x-vorbis+ogg=

Example here

[Default Applications]

Generally speaking most apps for these types would register when installed though a quirk in gnome3 is that if the app's .desktop doesn't have an Exec= line that ends with %<letter>it won't show as a default choice so that's something else to check

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