Recent Programs Not Being Remembered

How to Fix Recent Programs Not Being Remembered in Vista
This will show you how to fix Recent Programs not being remembered and leaving the list empty in the Start menu.
How to Fix Recent Programs Not Being Remembered in Vista

information   Information
When you logon to your user account, the Frequently Used Programs list in the Start menu may get reset with the factory default listing. This will leave the list empty and not have your recent programs remembered.

This happens if the StartMenuInit registry value is not set correctly in the registry. During the first logon to a user account, Vista is supposed to set the StartMenuInit value automatically. If this fails for some reason, then Vista resets the Frequently Used programs list with the default programs list automatically at every logon, and pops up the Start menu automatically.
Note   Note
Recent Items - Shows list of your recently used files on the right side of the Start menu.

Recent programs - A list of recently used programs displayed on the right white side of the Start Menu under the pinned programs separator line.

Tip   Tip
The Recent Programs 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

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.
warning   Warning
When you open this location and you have a yellow folder named Recent instead of the default Recent Items folder with a icon, then right click on the Recent folder and click Delete. Type shell:recent in the search box of the Start Menu and press Enter. Logoff and logon, or restart the computer to rebuild the folder back to the default Recent Items folder.
EXAMPLE: Start Menu with Recent Items
Recent items are boxed in red.


Check Recent Settings

1. Make sure that Recent Items is turned on in the Start menu.​
2. Make sure that you have the number of recent programs to display set to at least 5.​

Fix the Registry Settings

To Use a REG File Download:
1. Click on the Download button below to download the file below.​

2. Click on Save, and save the .reg file to the Desktop
3. Right click on the downloaded .reg file and click on Merge.​
4. Click on Run, Continue (UAC), Yes, and then OK when prompted.​
5. Log off and log on, or restart the computer to apply the changes.​
6. When done, you can delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.​
To do so Manually in Registry Editor
1. Open the Start Menu.​
2. In the white line (Start Search) area, type regedit and press Enter.​
3. Click on Continue in the UAC prompt.​
4. In regedit, go to: (See screenshot below step 5)​

5. In the right pane, right click StartMenuInit and click on Modify.​
NOTE: If you do not have StartMenuInit, then click on New and DWORD (32-bit) Value. Type StartMenuInit and press Enter.​

6. Type 3 and click on OK. (See screenshot below)​

7. Close regedit.​
8. Log off and log on, or restart the computer to apply the changes.​
That's it,

Last edited:
Shawn Brink


Hi Shawn, it's weird that there's no "Clear Recent Item List" when I right click the "Recent Items " in my Start Menu(It used to be there, but somehow it disappeared months ago). Can't find any helpful information from Google. Just to ask if you know any way to bring it back. Thanks =)
It did work. The startmenuinit item was missing and had to be added. Just a couple of observations:

1. Vista froze on shut-down after modifying the registry, I waited five minutes and then forced a shut down with the power button.

2. Vista now boots slower than before. After the Welcome screen, the screen goes blank for about 20 seconds before the desktop appears. This blank screen period is longer than it was before applying the fix.

Any reasons for this?

Regarding item 2: I timed the amount of time the screen is blank after applying this fix. I was way off on my estimate. It's not 20 seconds, it's 65 seconds. I removed the "startmenuinit" item from the registry (as it originally was) and re-checked the boot time. That reduced the blank screen time to 30 seconds which is probably what it was when the computer shipped new.

I really miss the Start menu not remembering recent programs, but I'm not sure I want to tolerate such a long boot up. Do you have any suggestions? (By the way, both time measurements were taken with the Transient Multimon Manager setting DISABLED)
Hi Nkoenig,

Welcome to Vista Forums. :party:

The startmenuinit entry is suppose to be there and set to 3 by default. When something changes it is when the problem usually starts.

This will show you how to readjust the startup time.

How to Speed Up Vista Boot Up Time

Your computer should not have frozen after applying the reg fix. You might consider running a sfc /scannow command to see if it can find and fix any system file errors.

I ran "scannow" and it said it "found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them".

Vista froze one more time on shut-down since then. The boot up time seems to be back to normal most of the time even without making the changes in the "How to speed up Vista boot time" tutorial.

My concern now is the corrupt files that scannow said it couldn't fix. I read the thread following that tutorial and read some of the subsequent tutorials that discuss a Repair install and a Clean install. I would like to do a Repair install, but based on a note in one of the tutorials, I probably don't have the system disks that alllow this.

This is a Gateway computer and the Operating System disk warns that is can erase all data and files from the hard drive.

Does this mean the option to do a Repair install will not be available and a Clean install will be the only option offered to me?

I'm concerned that adding the startmenuinit caused this in the first place. Before going through all the time to do a Clean install, should I try deleting startmenuinit and re-running "scannow" to see what it reports?

The startmenuinit entry is suppose to be there and set to 3 by default. The tutorial just shows you how to set it back to default when something changed or deleted it causing the problem.

It sounds like you have a Recovery installation DVD. That will not allow you to have the Repair install option. :( You can attempt to run Check Disk (chkdsk) to see if it can repair the corruption so SFC can complete when ran again. See Method Two here for how.

If that does not help, then you will only be left with a clean install to fix it.


Here's how my situation has been resolved so far. Per your suggestion, I ran CHKDSK and then ran SCANNOW again. It didn't help. I got the same message about being unable to repair the errors. I backed up my data and then did a full factory restore. I immediately ran VERIFYONLY and got the same error message as before, "Windows Resource Protection found integrity violations". I called Gateway support who turned me over to their Vista person. He said Microsoft has been aware of the error message being generated, even on a newly restored computer, for about a month and to expect a fix soon. He claimed the error deals with authenticating Vista.

On the good side, so far the computer hasn't frozen on shut-down and the full restore put the STARTMENUINIT item back in the registry with a value of 3 so the start menu is remembering recently used programs correctly. I wonder how it disappeared in the first place.

I hope that resolved the problem for you. I do not know how it went missing. Strange though.

Thank you for the feedback,
Didn't work for me!! StartMenuInit has the value 3 in regedit. Tried the patch Fix_Recent_Programs. Didn't work either. Recently opened files works fine.
Hello Richard, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Perhaps this is not the cause of your problem then. Could you give some more details and screenshots on what your issue is? Maybe we could help if we know more about it.