How to Manage Your Recent Files (Files Logging) In Ubuntu

The Zeitgeist Engine is a service that logs the users’s activities and events (files opened, websites visites, conversations hold with other people, etc.) and makes relevant information available to other applications. In the recent releases of Ubuntu, the Zeitgeist engine was installed by default, and that is why you are starting to see “Recent Files” showing up in your Nautilus file manager and other applications.

Let’s say that you are using a household computer and you love to watch late night movie (aka. porn) on it, the last thing you want your family members to see is the name of the movie showing up on the “Recent Files” list every time they open the Nautilus file manager.

Activity Log Manager Comes to the Rescue

The Activity Log Manager is one useful app that controls the behavior of Zeitgeist. You can use it to delete all your file logging history and configure it to log only certain applications or files.

To install:

sudo apt-get install activity-log-manager

This is what you see on first run:


There are three tabs: History, Applications and Files. In the History tab, you can delete file log for the past 15 minutes, or up to past week, or if you want, define your own time range.


The Application tab is where you can blacklist Application and prevent logging of any activity on these applications. So if you are using VLC to watch movie, you can add VLC into this tab.


To make it even better, you can blacklist specific file types and folders. In this case, you probably want to select the video format and videos directory in order to keep your “track” clean.


Turning it off

For those who prefer to turn the file logging off completely rather than configuring each individual item, you can simply click the “Tick” button at the right bottom corner. The default is “Logging Active”. Give it a click and you will see the “Logging Stopped” text.



(Recent) File logging is definitely a useful way to help you retrieve your files faster and improve your productivity. However, extensive file logging can also be an intrusion of your privacy, especially if you are using a shared computer. Being able to control what to log and what not to log is definitely a good way to protect your privacy without compromising your productivity.

What do you think?


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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