How to Change the Number of Recent Items in OS X

With OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Apple has added a considerable amount of new features, but among all the hubbub and hoopla, are smaller items that the company slipped in unannounced. One of these is the ability to change the number of recent items.

Let’s show you what we mean. In many instances, OS X will collect recent items such as documents, apps, and servers you’ve connected to. For example, here on the Go menu, we see a list of recently visited folders, 10 items to be exact, which is the default.

You can clear the menu of any recently visited folders, but unless you change the configuration in the settings, it will always fill back up with at least 10 items.

Up until now, it hasn’t been possible to change the number of items that appear in these lists but El Capitan adds a new option to its General settings.

To change the number of recently visited items such as documents, apps, and servers, first open the System Preferences, and then tap open the “General” category. Scan down to “recent items” and, as we mentioned already, you will see it is set to show 10 items by default.

Click on this item and notice that you can change how many recent items appear in lists. You can turn them off or choose another number from 5 to 10, 15, 20, 30, or 50. When you choose “None”, obviously no more items will accumulate in your lists, but you will still need to clear items out, such as in the earlier screenshot.

That said, if you’re a privacy-conscious person and you don’t want documents, apps, and servers to appear in your recent items list, then here is where you can make that happen. If, on the other hand, you want your recent items to swell, then you can increase that number considerably over a mere ten.

Of course, this isn’t the only tiny, relatively unknown improvement to make its way into El Capitan. For example, we recently showed you how to hide your menu bar, which for longtime Mac users, is a noticeable change.

If you have any questions you wish to ask or comments you would like to contribute, we urge you to leave your feedback in our discussion forum.

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.