Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Add a variety of powers to Ubuntu’s dashboard, allowing you to quickly find news, stock information, the weather in any town, or even torrents. It’s just a matter of finding and installing the right lenses, and the “Scopes” PPA contains several.
Not everyone loves it, but Ubuntu’s dashboard is great for searching. Bring up the menu, start typing and quickly find the program or document you want. Lenses make it possible to search for more than just your applications and documents. With the right lense, you can search for anything from recipes to songs to news. Find out how to install and use these lenses below.
I only tested these lenses on the latest version of Ubuntu: 12.04, and I don’t think these instructions will work for anything older than 11.10. Sorry, users of older versions. Having said that, if you’re using a recent version of Ubuntu, these lenses are completely worth checking out.
What Is A Lense?
So, how does one use a lense? They’re found at the bottom of the dashboard; they’re the little icons. Click one and you can search for a wide variety of things. For example: the built-in “video” lens is a quick way to search YouTube and other video sites:
(Crash Course is one of the best channels on YouTube, by the way).
Finding Other Lenses
How does one install other lenses? There aren’t many in the Ubuntu Software Center, but you can change that by adding the correct PPA: ppa:scopes-packagers/ppa.
You can add this using Y PPA, or by entering the following commands in the Terminal:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:scopes-packagers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
Once you’ve done so, you can install the lenses in the Ubuntu Sotware Center, or by clicking the links below. Please note that lenses won’t show up until you log in and out or restart the computer.
Awesome Lenses To Try
Got the PPA added? Let’s check out some amazing lenses then. First up, the news. This lense will show you the top stories on Google News, or you can search:
Find yourself looking for files more often than headlines? Perhaps The Pirate Bay is more your scene.
If you’re concerned about your investments, you’re also covered. The stock ticker lens allows you to type any stock code and see what’s happening:
Need to know what time it is in another city? Just type the city’s name and you’ll see that along with the weather there. It’s the cities lens, and it’s awesome:
You’ll find the Spotify results in Ubuntu’s built-in Music Lens.
I think you get the idea. Lenses gives you quick access to different sorts of information. New ones are created constantly, so I couldn’t hope to outline all of them. Here are just a few more highlights :
- Deviant Art
- Graphic Design
Which lenses do you like adding to Ubuntu? Let us know in the comments below!