Search News, Torrents, Spotify & More On Ubuntu’s Dashboard [Linux]

Justin Pot 09-06-2012

ubuntu desktop searchAdd 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:

ubuntu desktop search

(Crash Course Crash Course: Entertaining YouTube Courses On History & Biology Stop watching the same old crap on YouTube. Check out this great set of history and biology lessons instead. They're hilarious, engaging, entertaining and enlightening, all at once. I promise you, they're not boring and... Read More 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 Y PPA Manage: A GUI For Managing Ubuntu PPAs [Linux] Do you want to avoid using the command line when installing bleeding edge software? Then manage your Ubuntu PPAs from a simple GUI with Y PPA Manager. Ubuntu users get their software from the Ubuntu... Read More , 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:

ubuntu desktop search tool

Find yourself looking for files more often than headlines? Perhaps The Pirate Bay is more your scene.

ubuntu desktop search tool

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:

ubuntu desktop search tool

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:

linux ubuntu search

Do you use the Linux version of Spotify Listen To Your Music In Spotify For Free Without Wine [Linux] Do you love Spotify's free version, but tired of needing Wine just to listen to the music? Good news - Spotify now offers a free version specifically for Linux users. Or at least, users of... Read More ? You’ll be happy to know you can search that entire music collection using the Spotify lens:

ubuntu desktop search

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 :

  • Wikipedia
  • Calculator
  • Deviant Art
  • Flickr
  • Grooveshark
  • Dictionary
  • Graphic Design

Which lenses do you like adding to Ubuntu? Let us know in the comments below!

Related topics: BitTorrent, Spotify, Ubuntu, Web Search.

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  1. Declan Lopez
    September 21, 2012 at 3:33 am

    the torrents lens is my favorite

  2. Arun Singh
    June 10, 2012 at 1:50 am

    i already know this feature but nice post .

  3. EspinozaChad
    June 10, 2012 at 1:15 am

    my co-worker's step-sister makes $86 an hour on the laptop. She has been fired from work for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $18215 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site CashLazy.*com
    remove the *

  4. Jon Smith
    June 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Hmm interesting-linux is getting a bit attractive to use