How to Turn Off Recent Items and Frequent Places in Windows 10

All over Windows, you’ll see menus with the most recently used items for a given application. Maybe it’s a document you recently opened, or some videos you recently watched. Frequent Places works similarly, showing you important folders in your account (Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Pictures, Music, and so on), plus folders you’ve pinned or accessed recently. Here’s how to turn off recent items and frequent places in Windows 10.

Location of Recent Items and Frequent Places

Your recent items and frequent places are stored in the following folder locations:

%AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent Items
%AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\AutomaticDestinations
%AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\CustomDestinations

This is what they look like when viewed from the Start menu:

Here’s what they look like in the taskbar’s jump lists:

You’ll also find them in File Explorer, in the Quick Access pane:

…and in the File menu:

How Recent Items Work in Windows

In File Explorer, Windows will just show you your most recently opened items. In jump lists on the Start menu and taskbar, however, Recent Items will display the most recently used items for that application. Microsoft Word shows recent documents; Internet Explorer shows recent websites; and Microsoft Paint shows recently opened pictures, for example. By default, Windows shows the ten most recent used items by file name.

You can also “pin” files and folders to the Recent Items list, so you always have quick access to them. According to the Microsoft knowledgebase the Recent Items algorithm produces the following behavior:

  • A new item is always added at the top of the Recent items list.
  • Items will move down in the list over time. Once the list is full (default value is ten), older items fall to the bottom of the list as new items are added to the top of the list.
  • If an item already appears somewhere in the list but is accessed again, then that item moves back to the top of the list.
  • If an item is pinned, it will still travel down the list, but will not vanish from the list.
  • If the number of pinned items reaches the maximum number of items, then no new items will get added to the list until an item is unpinned.

How to Turn Off Recent Items in Windows 10

The easiest way to turn off Recent Items is through Windows 10’s Settings app. Open “Settings” and  click on the Personalization icon.

Click on “Start” on the left side. From the right side, turn off “Show recently added apps”, and “Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar”.

When you turn off recent items and frequent places, it will clear all recent items from jump lists and File Explorer. Items you pinned, however, will stay in place until you manually unpin them.

Alternative: Turn Off Recent Items Through Group Policy Editor

If you’re managing a computer with multiple users, and using Windows 10 Pro, you can also tweak this setting through Group Policy. Press “Win + R” to open the Run box and type “gpedit.msc”. Under “User Configuration > Administrative Templates”, click “Start Menu and Taskbar”.

In the right pane, double click on “Do not keep history of recently opened documents” to open the Properties box. To disable Recent Items, choose “Enabled” and click “Apply.” Similarly, double click “Remove Recent Items menu from Start Menu” to disable recent item menu.

How to Turn Off Recent Items and Frequent Places in Windows 8.1 and 7

Things are a little different in previous versions of Windows. In Windows 8.1, right-click or press and hold on a empty area on the taskbar, and click “Properties”.

In the Jump Lists tab, uncheck “Store and display recently opened items in the Start menu and the taskbar” and “Store recently opened programs”. You can even set the number (default is 10) of recent items and frequent places you want to display in Jump Lists and File Explorer.

In Windows 7, right-click or press and hold on a empty area on the taskbar, and click “Properties”.

In the Start Menu tab, uncheck “Store and display recently opened items in the Start menu and the taskbar” and “Store and display recently opened programs in the Start menu”.

Turning off recent items and frequent places is easy to manipulate in Windows 10. If you don’t want others to see your recently opened documents–or you just don’t want the feature wasting space–you have a lot of choice in how to use it.

Rahul Saigal is a writer and all-around computer geek. Born in Kolkata, India, he works from home with all the geeky stuff and gadgets. When not working he loves to read, listen podcasts, and try new software. You can follow him on Twitter if you'd like.