I want to know if it's possible to remove the Unity Smart Scopes?

Basically I like to keep a lean machine. I always remove just about everything I can - I actually only use the app and file lens', I don't use any of the others so I remove them. I'm not going to use the smart scopes because I don't want information being sent to 3rd parties (even Canonical).

I like Unity so I would like to keep using Unity, but I just want to remove smart scopes... There are going to be a lot of them I know, which means that the list to remove is going to be long, but Synaptic or a quick bit of sudo apt-get purge should take care of that.

There are the privacy controls there which will let me prevent the smart scopes from working, but I want to remove them.

So the question is simple... Can the smart scopes be removed? Can I still just leave the app and file lens' locally without any of the smart scope stuff.

  • 1
    Personally, I find even the 'files' lens annoying, because it insists on throwing random config files and stuff in my search results, even though I already finished with what I was working on there. I hardly ever edit non-programming-related files except with web applications on my computer. Dec 17, 2013 at 21:39

3 Answers 3


Ubuntu 13.10 and up: Instead of removing, try disabling?

  1. Open the Application Scope (Super+A).
  2. Scroll down to Dash plugins.
  3. Select “See X more results”
  4. Click on the Scope you want to disable.
  5. Click “Disable”.

Tip: Toggle multiple scopes at a time using the left and right arrows in the Dash interface.

  • Nice catch, but 99% of the time I really have no idea what such a plugin does. The description is not explaining a single bit. You cannot even trust the word "local" in it. Is there an easy to understand and complete list of which plugins do what? Exactly? Not forgetting about some details which are important? With priority, so which are dangerous for privacy, which are absolutely needed and the like?
    – Tino
    Feb 10, 2014 at 0:52

Although strongly discouraged, you can remove all individual scopes and turn the online results off in the Privacy settings. This will effectively turn off smart scopes, as there will be no scopes other than the default ones to return search results for.

Scopes are shipped as individual packages (generally named unity-scope-* or unity-lens-*), so you can uninstall each one of them. Here you've got a list of the default scopes on a desktop installation.

Again, this answer is provided to share the knowledge on scopes, but I'd strongly recommend not to mess around with such an essential part of the system such as scopes. As with any other central part of Ubuntu, removing them might cause system instability.

  • 12
    If that should cause "system instability", there's something fundamentally wrong with Ubuntu.
    – pcworld
    Oct 27, 2013 at 20:01
  • Not sure I understand the comment. You cannot just start removing fundamental system packages and still expect that Ubuntu works in the way it was designed with those packages. Oct 30, 2013 at 9:35
  • 1
    I think it's more a case of knowing which scopes you can safely remove. For example removing the home scope would not be recommended. But you should be able to safely remove the music scope for example, which should remove all music results (just an example).
    – Mo D
    Nov 8, 2013 at 22:26

You can blacklist offending scopes in one swoop using the Terminal. The following command, from FixUbuntu, should do the trick:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes "['more_suggestions-amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']"

To re-enable you only need to run the command:

  gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses enabled-scopes "['more_suggestions-amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']"

you may need to reboot to make the change

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