Recent Items List

How to Turn the Recent Items List On or Off in Vista
This will show you how to turn the Recent Items list on or off. Recent Items include a Recent File and Program Lists.
How to Turn the Recent Items List On or Off in Vista

information   Information
This is a list of recently opened files and programs displayed in the Start Menu and the Recently Changed shortcut in Favorite Links. Recent Items are not displayed in the Classic Start Menu.
Note   Note
The Recent Items folder is located at:
NOTE: You will need to have Show hidden files and folders checked in Folder Options.

C:\Users\(User-Name)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent Items
Tip   Tip

  • You can also open this location by typing shell:recent and in the white line (Start Search) area of the Start Menu and pressing Enter.
  • If you would like to remove (disable) the Start menu Pin to area to leave only Recent Programs listed, then see: How to Enable or Disable Pin to Start Menu in Vista
warning   Warning
When you go to the Recent Items folder location above and you have a yellow folder named Recent instead of one named Recent Items with a icon, then right click on the Recent folder and click Delete. Type shell:recent in the white line (Start Search) area of the Start Menu and press Enter. Logoff and logon, or restart the computer, to rebuild the folder back to the default Recent Items. Recent Items will not function correctly if is not set as the default Recent Items folder.

EXAMPLE: Start Menu and Favorite Links
Recent_Items.jpg Favorite_Links.jpg

Here's How:
This method is for both the normal and classic Start menu.
1. Right click on the Start Button and click Properties.
2. To Turn Recent Files List On or Off
A) Check or Uncheck the Store and display a list of recently opened files box. (See screenshot below step 5)​
NOTE: This list is in the Recent Items button in the Start Menu and in Recently Changed for Favorite Links inside a Explorer window. (See screenshot at top) If this is not checked, the folder location (at top of tutorial) will only flash open and then close quickly.
B) Go to step 5.​

3. To Turn Recent Programs List On or Off
A) Check or Uncheck the Store and display a list of recently opened programs box. (See screenshot below step 5)​
NOTE: This list is displayed in the left white area of the Start Menu. (See screenshot at top)
B) Go to step 5.​

4. To Clear the Recent Files and Programs List
NOTE: This will delete the lists and reset it clean.​

5. Click Apply and then click on OK.​

That's it,

Related Tutorials

Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink


I haven't been using the Recently Opened Items but when I open them up I notice they are in alphabetical order instead of MRU. Seems to be limited functionality. If I use a file that starts with 'z' I'll probably never see it in there!! Is there a Registry Tweak to change it to MRU order?
Hi MilesAhead,

I'm not aware of any to change the MRU order, but you should be able to right click on the Recent Items button and click on Open to see all of them.

Hope this helps,
My folder for Recent Items is called Recent, so I followed your instructions and changed it to Recent Items. However, when I turned off my computer and turned it on again it was changed back to Recent.
My Recent Items list works until I turn off my computer, when it deletes the list. I would like it not to do that.
Hello Eruli, and welcome to Vista Forums.

At the registry (regedit) locations below, double check to make sure that you have these "Data" entries for Recent in the right pane.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders
(data - exactly as is below)



HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders
(data - substitue Brink with your user account name instead)



Afterwards, fix the folder again as in the tutorial to see if it stays fixed now. :)

Hope this helps,
Thanks for the help but how do you get Registry Files up? Sorry for the issue, just not that technological.
Thank you.
No problem eruli. You would type regedit in the Start Menu's search box at the bottom, and press Enter to open Registry Editor.

If you like, post back with the name of your user account on your computer, and I can create a REG file that you could use to make sure that those registry locations are set properly automatically.
You're welcome. After downloading the REG file below, you would just need to right click on it, click on Merge, approve running it (Run, Continue, Yes, Ok), then fix the Recent folder to Recent Items again.

Hope this helps. :)


Thank you. I have done as instructed but cannot turn my laptop off yet, as I am doing work on it, but I will let you know how it goes tomorrow.
So, I forgot to turn my laptop off last night and it has been on standby since then. I just checked the folder and it has gone back to 'Recent' and is showing the start menu as empty again.
What should I do now?
Go ahead and try it again one more time in case something was changed before since you didn't finshed it right away. :)
It hasn't worked :(
My computer also comes up with permission messages at start up, even though i have unchecked the notify me box many times, if that helps.

As a test, create a new administrator account to see how it works while logged in it. If everything works in it, then you could copy what you like from the old account, then delete the old account while in the new one.
hi a program called registry something cleaned my registry and doing that it made my recent item disappear and i did all that u said but i doenst show on the start menu left hand side but the recent items on the right hand side is still there mut the left side is gone
Hello Tboy, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Yeah, those registry cleaner programs can be dangerous if let to delete whatever if finds without double checking each and every item. The hard part is that it's not so easy to know what each it is for.

You could do a system restore using a restore point (if available) dated before you ran the registry cleaner to undo what it did and hopefully fix this for you. If this is not an option, then you might check to see if the registry cleaner program has a undo feature that you could use to restore what it deleted.

Hope this helps,