I want to delete all the history of the unity dash about files, videos, text files, images, etc. I find it surprising that the best thing that activity log manager can do is to delete the history of one week only.


6 Answers 6


An alternative way, with a simple interface to remove all record logs of Recently Used files and applications in Ubuntu 12.04 is to follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the control icon (cog wheel on top right hand corner of display screen);
  2. Select System settings;
  3. Click on All Settings tab at the top of the dialogue window that opens up;
  4. Select Privacy icon;
  5. Select tab Recent Items;
  6. Under "Forget Activities option" listed, select All in the drop-down box on the right-hand side of the option;
  7. Click on Delete History button;
  8. Click on Yes to the confirmation dialogue;
  9. Close System Settings application window;

Job is done!

Do this a couple of times and it will become second-nature to cleaning up and protecting yourself every time.

  • +1. Just a tip that worked for me: It seemed to me that the deletion never got kicked until I opened any file that's added to the search history.
    – IsaacS
    Jan 25, 2015 at 6:00
  • 2
    For Ubuntu 15.10: 1) Open System Settings, click "All Settings" if necessary. 2) Open the "Security & Privacy" pane. 3) Select the "Files & Applications" tab. 4) Click the "Clear Usage Data..." button on the left. DONE. In this tab, you can also indicate which file types you want to be included in future search results, and whether you want any application usage to be recorded at all.
    – jvriesem
    Mar 31, 2016 at 20:19
  • Thanks, also works in Debian under the menu All Settings / Privacy / Usage and History / Clear Recent history. Apr 3, 2019 at 9:19

There is a way to delete the entire history of recent files accessed in Unity rather easily using activity-log-manager Install activity-log-manager.

First of all, install it using the following command:

sudo apt-get install activity-log-manager

After installing it, open the application. In the History tab, select all history in the dropdown list and then press Delete button. Now, the entire history of the accessed files will be deleted.

enter image description here

  • @Allan i know that there is activity-log for 11.10 but it doesn't contain an option to delete the all history it's big option is to delete the history of a week Feb 18, 2012 at 18:56

While searching a way to clear recent list shown in Totem [ Ubuntu 12.04 ], activity log manager/privacy did not work in my case.

Moreover, there was no file 'recently-used.xbel' in current user's folder.

File recently-used.xbel was located inside ~/.local/share/

For me, nullifying this file worked!

$ echo > ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
  • 3
    +1 This is the only answer that worked for me on 13.04.
    – asm
    Jul 20, 2013 at 19:07
  • Perfect! I'm using this in a script that prepares my PC for screen sharing at work 😅
    – Hubro
    Jun 25, 2023 at 17:45

Confirmed to work from Ubuntu 13.10 to 16.10.

  1. Go to System Settings
  2. Click on Security & Privacy
  3. Click on Files & Applications
  4. Click on Clear Usage Data

  • 1
    simplest, used the same process in ubuntu 13.10.
    – Lekhnath
    Dec 30, 2014 at 10:21

You can also use

activity journal

Do these:

  1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:zeitgeist/ppa (Add the GNOME Activity Journal ppa)
  2. sudo aptitude update (Update the source list)
  3. sudo aptitude install gnome-activity-journal (Install GNOME Activity Journal)

You can choose to delete a specific entry, as well.


My system is an Ubuntu 14.04 in Gnome Flashback (Metacity) mode and my solution was the key "gnome->gnome-panel->run-dialog" into the dconf-editor.

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