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?

  • 1
    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). – Panther 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!

  • 2
    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
  • 3
    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)

  • 2
    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.

  • not work! i excluded all the videos, my movies folder, my video player applications.. but it keep adding videos into "Recent" list – Hiep Apr 24 '17 at 21:17
  • It worked at the time for me in 14; I've been using 16 for awhile now and couldn't say if its still valid or not. – Paul Gregoire Apr 25 '17 at 3:06

If you're using Ubuntu 17.10 and above (or Ubuntu GNOME) then:

  • Open Settings
  • Open the Privacy Tab enter image description here

  • Click Usage & History and disable the "Recently Used" label enter image description here


Using the terminal:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.privacy remember-recent-files false

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.

  • I suppose you could always boot from a flash drive as well. – Panther 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

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
  • 1
    didn't work for me on 13.10, dconf-editor solution works well – baptx Dec 9 '13 at 12:44

Simply open dconf-editor, navigate to org->gnome->(filemanager e.g. nemo for me)->privacy and uncheck the remember-recent-files key. That takes care of it, once for all!

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