I’m a big fan of having product suggestions in my Unity Dash search results. Why? First and foremost, I work from home — so, there isn’t any semblance of “Big Brother” looking down over my virtual shoulder. Another reason is because I do a lot of online shopping, and seeing products that are recommended can be beneficial. But for many users, these search results are more an invasion of privacy than a convenience.

Thankfully, the Ubuntu developers had that in mind when they developed the Smart Scopes tool. With the help of a single button, you can disable online search results complete. If you don’t want to completely disable the system, you can pick and choose what services you want to use.

Disable completely

First, let’s walk through how to disable the online results completely. This is done from within the System Settings tool. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Click the Super (or Windows) key on your keyboard
  2. Type Settings
  3. From the results, click the System Settings button
  4. Click on Security & Privacy
  5. Click the Search tab
  6. Click the On/Off button (Figure A) so that it changes to Off
  7. Close the System Settings

Figure A

Online search results are disabled here.

Disable selectively

You can also disable the results selectively. For example, you might want to keep the Amazon results, but disable the eBay and other results. Here’s how:

  1. Click on the Super (or Windows) keyboard
  2. Click Filter results
  3. Scroll through the available options (Figure B) and click to disable/enable*
  4. Close the Dash

* Filters are shaded in white when enabled.

Figure B

The Unity Dash search in action.

For power users only

As you might expect, you can also disable specific filters from the command line. This is not nearly as easy as the method above, because you have to know the name of the specific filter. For example, if you want to disable Amazon, eBay, UbuntuOne Music Store, UbuntuOne Shop, and skimlinks, here is the command you would use:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes “[‘more_suggestions-amazon.scope’, ‘more_suggestions-u1ms.scope’, ‘more_suggestions-ebay.scope’, ‘more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope’, ‘more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope’]”

You can both disable and enable from the command line. If you want to enable those scopes you’ve disabled, you would replace disabled-scopes with enabled-scopes.

Ubuntu Unity is one of the most user-friendly, efficient desktop interfaces I have ever used. Although I tend to use the online results in my Dash searches, if you prefer more anonymity, you now know how to either completely or selectively disable online results.

Do you enable or disable your Unity Dash online search results? Please share any tips or tricks for making the best use of this feature in the discussion thread below.