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Change the Number of Recent Items Shown on the Windows 7 / Vista Start Menu

If you’ve ever wondered how to configure the number of documents shown on the Recent Items menu, you’ve found the right article. The default value is set to show 10 documents, but you can increase that with a registry tweak.

What we are changing here is the amount of documents shown in this menu (I changed mine down to 1 for illustration)

image 

Manual Registry Tweak

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu search box, and then navigate down to the following key, creating it if it doesn’t exist.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

image

Add a new DWORD 32-bit value named MaxRecentDocs into the right-hand pane, and then double-click to open it up.

To set the value, you’ll first need to change Base to Decimal, and then you can enter any value you want. For instance, if you want to set it to 50, enter that into the Value data field.

image

Now I’m not entirely sure what will happen if you set it to a huge number… I’d stick with something like 20.

Note that the same tweak works in Windows 7 as well, even though the screenshots are from Vista.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/24/07

Comments (12)

  1. cheryl

    I wanted to know how to locate deleted files on vista, and do I need to empty this from time to time? Does it ever clean itself out?
    Thanks for your help
    Cheryl

  2. danish

    hi great tip but when i creat the dword and change it to decimal and save it just changes back to hex and theres no change to my recent doc list?

  3. cris

    THis happens to me too

  4. Carmody

    Me too. Annoying, isn’t it!

  5. AndyC

    Just checked this on Windows 7, and it doesn’t appear to work (64-bit version at least). After restarting, it’s deleted my recent programs list, so probably that means it’s in the right area, but my recent documents list is still the default 15 long.

  6. Stan

    My registry doesn’t have that key. It has “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software” but doesn’t extend to “Microsoft”. I’m not a registry expert, so I didn’t want to meddle any further with it.

    However, I found that some versions of Vista have more readily available settings.

    RightClick on the start menu, and click “Properties”.
    Click the “Start Menu” tab. Down below you will see check boxes for “Store and display a list of recently opened files” and “Store and display a list of recently opened programs”. Don’t change them.

    Click the “Customize” button.
    You will get a new window. Down about the middle, you will see “Number of recent programs to display” and maybe “Number of recent files to display”. My Vista only had recent program, but others have told me they also had recent files. Set these to whatever you want, then OK everything.

  7. Daniel Dushman

    My question is related to the number of items in the Recent Items list, but not quite. In Windows Vista (Start) my Recent Items menu (not the list itself) has stopped showing the Clear Recent Items List command. How can I get it back? Thank you.

  8. kyle

    That isn’t available for Windows 7 – 64bit. Please check it again. I will come back . I receve your news letters. So please update with that.

  9. gilly775

    It does work on Windows 7 -64bit. You must log off/restart for it to work. I set mine to 30 and I am up to 23 now from the original 15 that Windows shows by default.

  10. Miche

    There is a solution much more simple in windows 7 :
    - click on the start menu
    - right-click anywhere beside your picture
    - click sur properties
    - its open a window with the taskbar, start menu, toolbars
    - click sur “start menu” then customize, look at the bottom of the window, and choose the number of programs you want between 0 and 30…………..

    SO EASY……………………

  11. Harry

    Just right click start button/orb click properties and do what miche says. Same result just a little quicker

  12. Larry

    Mine was at
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
    Start_MinMFU and Start_JumplistItems

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