How-To Geek

How to Disable the Search History in Windows File Explorer

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The search feature in Windows’ File Explorer saves recent searches by default to make it easier to search for the same terms again. However, if you don’t like this feature, you can turn it off.

Maybe you share your computer with others, and you may not want your search terms to be stored. The search history display can be disabled by either changing the registry or by using the Group Policy Editor. We’ll show you both methods, but note that the Group Policy Editor is not available in the Home versions of Windows. If you would rather not disable the search history in File Explorer, you can delete your search history from time to time, too.

NOTE: Throughout this article, we’re going to refer to the program as “File Explorer”, though it was called “Windows Explorer” in Windows 7. The following procedure will work for both.

Home Users: Disable the Search History Display via the Registry

If you have the Home version of Windows, you’ll have to edit the Windows Registry to make this change. You can also do it this way if you have the Professional or Enterprise version of Windows, but just feel more comfortable working in the Registry as opposed to Group Policy Editor. (If you have Pro or Enterprise, though, we recommend using the easier Group Policy Editor, as described in the next section.)

Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

You should also make a System Restore point before continuing. That way, if something goes wrong, you can always roll back.

To get started, open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing regedit . Press Enter to open the Registry Editor and give it permission to make changes to your PC.

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In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key:

HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

You may find that the Explorer key does not exist, but we can add it.

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If you don’t see the Explorer key under Windows, create it. To do this, right-click on the Windows key and select New > Key.

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Type Explorer as the name for the new key.

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Then, right-click on any blank space in the right pane and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.

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Type DisableSearchBoxSuggestions as the name for the new value.

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Then, double-click on the new DisableSearchBoxSuggestions value.

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Type 1 in the Value data box and click “OK”.

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Close the Registry Editor either by selecting File > Exit or by clicking the “X” in the upper-right corner of the window.

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You must restart your computer for this change to take effect.

Once you’ve restarted, you will not see any search history display when you type a term in the Search box in File Explorer.

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Pro and Enterprise Users: Disable the Search History Display via the Group Policy Editor

If you’re using Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise, the easiest way to disable the Search history display is by using the Local Group Policy Editor. It’s a pretty powerful tool, so if you’ve never used it before, it’s worth taking some time to learn what it can do. Also, if you’re on a company network, do everyone a favor and check with your admin first. If your work computer is part of a domain, it’s also likely that it’s part of a domain group policy that will supersede the local group policy, anyway.

You should also make a System Restore point before continuing. That way, if something goes wrong, you can always roll back.

If you have a Professional or Ultimate version of Windows, you can use the Group Policy Editor to disable the search history display. Open the Start menu, type group policy in the Search box, and click on “Edit group policy” in the list of results.

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In the left pane, navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer (Windows Explorer in Windows 7), then double click on “Turn off display of recent search entries in the Windows Explorer search box” in the right pane.

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Click “Enabled” in the upper-left corner of the “Turn off display of recent search entries in the File Explorer search box” dialog box that displays.

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Click “OK” to accept the change and close the “Turn off display of recent search entries in the File Explorer search box” dialog box.

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Close the Group Policy Editor either by selecting File > Exit or by clicking the “X” in the upper-right corner of the window.

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Your changes should be applied immediately, and File Explorer will no longer record your searches.

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 11/30/16

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