How do I delete totem's history displayed in it's main menu in Natty? For example if I don't want anyone to know I'm watching... ehem Simpsons a lot?

I've tried How can I keep recent files from appearing in Unity? but this doesnt work for Totem.

  • Have you resolved this issue? – pl1nk Jun 24 '12 at 23:12

12 Answers 12


Recent Document history for many Gnome 2 based applications are held in a file in your home folder called .local/share/recently-used.xbel

Either use the Launcher "Home Folder" - select the menu option "View - Show Hidden Files" and navigate to the .local/share folder and delete the file "recently-used.xbel"

Alternatively from the command line

rm ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel

If you really want to stop recent document history from showing up for your login account then create a file with your favourite Text Editor called .gtkrc-2.0 and save this file in your home folder.

Alternatively from the command line

gedit ~/.gtkrc-2.0

In that file, include on a separate line

gtk-recent-files-max-age = 0 

If you want to permanently remove the recent file list from totem, edit /usr/share/totem/totem.ui as root and change to following line:

<separator name="recent-separator"/>
<placeholder name="recent-placeholder"/>


<!--<separator name="recent-separator"/>
<placeholder name="recent-placeholder"/>-->

If you want to reactive history later, all you have to do is remove the part that you added.


In Unity: go to "Dash Home", search for "System Settings" and then choose "Privacy" -> "Recent Items". Change the time interval and press "Delete history". With the button on the bottom you can turn off recording of your activity at all, however many programs will ignore it.


Well, that will delete the Zeitgeist history (including Dash) but oddly not the history in Totems main menu. Seems like Totem is saving some kind of own history.

So this is not a duplicate of "How can I keep recent files from appearing in Unity?".


Just to 'clear' all history, (but not to 'disable' history from being listed)

rm -rf ~/.local/share/zeitgeist/ 
rm ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
rm ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel~

The first one destroys everything zeitigeist has in your home folder second and third just delete the recentest version of the "recently-used.xbel"


You can clear the Zeitgeist history (this is the history of recent files that's display in Dash) by using the following commands:

rm ~/.local/share/zeitgeist/activity.sqlite

zeitgeist-daemon --replace

note: it will clear all the other recent files as well.


Heres my workaround: Log off, log in again with "classic ubuntu" (http://www.robotsystematic.com/2011/linux/ubuntu-natty-gnome-2-interface) and clear recent documents as you did in Maverick. When you log in next time to unity-ubuntu, the history of totem is cleared there, too.


If you install Bleachbit from http://bleachbit.sourceforge.net/

Once installed, you select what you want cleaned from the system, this inclused Totem cache & history.

  • Just installed bleachbit. Totem not listed, so useless. – bbsimonbb Sep 25 '16 at 17:31

Go to Places -> Recent Documents and clear the list.

  • 5
    This only applies if you use the Gnome classic interface. There is no Places -> Recent documents in Unity. – Scott Severance Dec 21 '11 at 2:34

Nowadays Totem now uses Gnome Tracker to pick what videos to display in the Recent tab. According to https://wiki.gnome.org/Projects/Tracker/Documentation/First5Minutes, Tracker's db can be cleared by running tracker-control -r

You can also run tracker-preferences, System tab and click the "Yes, remove all of my indexed data" button.


I had some old files stuck in totem history caused by Grilo (part of Ubuntu packages).

Deleting the below file sorted it. I had to grep -rn . -e 'some history entry title' to find this file. It is not documented.

rm ./.local/share/grilo-plugins/grl-bookmarks.db-wal

Vulgar solution: Rename in home directory the directories: .local, .cache , .config and logout. I renamed .profile After the list disappeared you can play and try to return some lost definitions

  • What are lost definitions? I'm thinking you maybe mean lost configuration settings, but I want to be sure what you meant. – karel Nov 23 '20 at 7:41

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