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Recently at work I searched the Unity Dash for gedit and there were explicit pictures in the search result. The picture shows in "Reference" field when I search "gedit" only..

It was very embarrassing to see those files in the list in front of my co-workers.

How can I prevent such incidents from happening again?

Update: If I deselect the Reference field in Filter results, these explicit pictures go away.

But why was I being shown genitals at all? Is there any risk they'll come back?

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@ByteCommander it shows in "Reference". I didn't do anything special.. – Xiaokun Mar 22 at 11:34
To understand this: Go to and type gedit into the search field. Within the top results, there are the articles Genetical modification and mutilation and Genital wart, including an images for both... – Cedric Reichenbach Mar 22 at 13:33
This is a bug - the dash should have a safe search of online sources to prevent this – innisfree Mar 22 at 13:50
@Xiaokun I would simply say "do not use unity", as IMO having online search results within a launcher search is inherently prone to such troubles. – cheshire Mar 22 at 15:31
@cheshire Heck, I know it's a comment, but you can't provide "don't use xy" as a solution. I mean 90% of SuperUser questions would be obsolete if we could say "Don't use Windows." ;P – OddDev Mar 23 at 6:12
up vote 19 down vote accepted

This answer was written before you explained that the embarrassing results don't come from a list of recently used local files, but from the References scope.
It mainly targets at disabling local files/application history, but also disabling online search results from the Dash. Once you disabled the online results, you won't get those very ugly result thumbnails from Wikipedia any more.

I wrote a bug report/feature request about this issue against the unity-scope-home on Launchpad to ask for a child protection filter that either entirely blocks NSFW content from the search results in the Dash, only blocks them if they are no exact matches of the query, or only blocks at least their preview thumbnail to make them less offensive.

If you agree with me that this would be useful and you have a Launchpad account (or don't mind creating one - it's free of course and you only need to enter an email address), please consider confirming this bug.

You do this by visiting the link below, logging in to Launchpad, and then clicking on the yellow pencil icon next to the line

This bug affects N persons. Does this bug affect you?

Select Yes and click on Change and you're done.

Here is the link to the bug report.

Old answer (disabling local file/application history and online search results):

To disable recording of your file and application usage that, open the System Settings and go to the Security & Privacy options.

System Settings

Switch to the Files & Applications tab:

System Settings > Security & Privacy > Files & Applications

Here you should turn Record file and application usage OFF. Additionally you can/should also use the Clear Usage Data... button to get rid of old recordings.

Then you can also disable online search results (This is where the explicit images in your case were coming from!). To do that, switch to the Search tab.

System Settings > Security & Privacy > Search

Here you can simply turn Include online search results OFF.

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If this post answers your question and helped you to solve the described problem, please accept it by clicking the round grey tick symbol on the left of it. Thank you. – Byte Commander Mar 22 at 11:32
I am not kidding. I didn't watch anything special. The picture shows in "Reference" field when I search "gedit" only.. – Xiaokun Mar 22 at 11:37
@Xiaokun Okay, this is strange. It looks like the "Reference" thing is made for interaction with Zotero (, but that should be a tool to collect citations and references for research purposes. Maybe it would still help to disable at least the online search results as described in my answer. Could you please check if the explicit results still appear after that? – Byte Commander Mar 22 at 12:38
I just enabled online search results and saw exactly the same you saw! YUCK! (if it would be at least p0rn - but it's just ugly!)Please do yourself a favour and disable online search results as described in my answer! This is horrible and I'll complain about this somewhere for you! – Byte Commander Mar 22 at 12:56
As of now, those images don't seem to be appearing anymore. Something was probably done server side as I haven't updated anything since the last time I tried. I even tried to enter explicitly porn-prone words, filtering seems to more child-friendly. It still needs to be tweaked a little more, but it's a lot better than before. – Dan Mar 25 at 10:14

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