I upgraded from an almost default install of 11.10 to 12.04. All went well. I can boot into GNOME Shell. Get Activities overview, except that there are no recent files!

In 11.10, I used to get Recent files. What is missing? How do I get the recent files back?

  • Open dash by pressing Win key, search for privacy. See if anything is checked. – Web-E Apr 30 '12 at 7:40
  • Nothing is checked there. Everything is left as it is. – deshmukh May 1 '12 at 5:14
  • Let gnome go and switch to? Is there a better alternative? – deshmukh May 31 '12 at 5:25
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    @deshmukh I have actually switched back unity and it looks like I'm sticking with it too. There being no easy way to open a recent document is a major step backwards IMO. I'm astonished by the bug report bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-shell/+bug/970686, I can't be doing with that. As for unity: the only issues I have with unity (over gnome) is a) it's slower or at least seems slower, and b) it is less responsive or at least seems less responsive. With some tweaking these issues can be reduced. Keep in mind that I removed fglrx* completely to use gnome over unity. Unity wins. – Gerard Roche May 31 '12 at 14:22
  • Please mark @ubuntudroid post as answer. Also see askubuntu.com/questions/226770/… I was about to switch to Gnome Shell when I learned it doesn't have recent files easily available! LXDE, here I come! :) – Bucic Dec 9 '12 at 11:59

You can integrate file search into Gnome shell by installing this extension:


If you also want your recently opened files in the jump list of the appropriate program (very handy) install this extension:


Make sure you have installed gir1.2-gnomedesktop-3.0 before installing the extension:

sudo apt-get install gir1.2-gnomedesktop-3.0
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  • This looked promising, but alas! I installed the gir package and went to the extensions site. I clicked on the on-off switch and it produced an error (that switch was replaced by an error button). And now I am stuck with the same button when I reload the page/ revisit it. :( – deshmukh May 2 '12 at 13:08
  • @deshmukh To debug gnome-shell extensions you can open the gnome shell debug console (Looking glass) by pressing ALT + F2 and typing in lg. Then switch to the Extensions tab and click on the Show Errors link of the journal extension. You can leave the console by pressing ESC. – ubuntudroid May 3 '12 at 8:12
  • OK. I deleted it and reinstalled it - without any errors. But that adds another category Windows, Applications and Journal. If I search from the search box, it still does not show recent files :( – deshmukh May 5 '12 at 10:29
  • Well, it does, but you have to open up the Journal tab. Your search input is also taken into account. – ubuntudroid May 5 '12 at 20:20
  • This is confusing. After typing the search string, I also have to click the Journal tab. Then you see matching files but the search field is empty. Is this the expected behaviour? Then it is not very user friendly. Typing the search string should produce all the results (it still shows matching applications!) – deshmukh May 12 '12 at 6:29

This functionality was removed by GNOME developers in bug https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=670150. To get recent files back in search results you have to build and install gnome-shell from source with the two commits reverted or stick with gnome-shell and Ubuntu 11.10 for foreseeable future, until replacement applications like gnome-documents gain some shape.

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    When they do, will it include files that are opened by not-gnome applications, but through Nautilus (double clicking on a text file that opens in a vim through a .desktop file)? Also, in the interim, is there an alternative that you can suggest? – deshmukh May 1 '12 at 5:18
  • Is there any ETA on the fix? – Bucic Dec 14 '12 at 11:56

You can install the extension Tracker Search. Make sure you install before the packages tracker and gir1.2-tracker-0.14.

Since Tracker will index every files in the folders you've configured, it's less efficient and accurate than searching among the recent files. Anyway, it's fast and works as expected : just open the Activities overview and type !

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Since a few weeks, you can use an extension called Search Recently Used Files which works as you want on Ubuntu 12.10 with GNOME Shell 3.6.

Contrary to gnome-document search provider, you can search among any type of documents from the activity overview and the results appear instantly.

Unfortunately, this extension seems not to be compatible with GNOME Shell 3.4 on Ubuntu 12.04 according to this file.

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This works even in GNOME 3.2 with the extension Recent Items.

enter image description here

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I installed Synapse as a file search alternative when I realized gnome shell 3.4 removed this capability.

Bizarrely, after installing Synapse and re-logging on, gnome shell now retrieves my recent documents!

I can't explain it, maybe someone else can!

Edit: I have also realized that searches take about 4-5 seconds before coming up and now I am not sure if this has always been the case or if it does indeed have something to do with Synapse.

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