If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably noticed the .recently-used.xbel file in the root of your User folder, and you’re wondering why it keeps constantly coming back even though you repeatedly delete it.

So What Is It?

The quick answer is that it’s part of the GTK+ library used by a number of cross-platform applications, perhaps the most well-known of which is the Pidgin instant messenger client.

As the name implies, the file is used to store a list of the most recently used files. In the case of Pidgin, this comes into play when you are transferring files over IM, and that’s when the file will appear again.

Note: this is actually a known and reported bug in Pidgin, but sadly the developers aren’t terribly responsive when it comes to annoyances. Pidgin seems to go for long periods of time without any updates, but we still use it because it’s open-source, cross-platform, and works well.

How Do I Get Rid of It?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to easily get rid of it, apart from using a different application. If you need to transfer files over Pidgin, the file is going to re-appear… but there’s a quick workaround!

The general idea is to set the file properties to Hidden and Read-only. You’d think you could just set it to Hidden and be done with it, but Pidgin will re-create the file every time, so instead we’re leaving the file there and preventing it from being accessed.

You could also totally remove access through the Security tab if you wanted to, but this worked fine for me… as you can see, no more file in the folder.

Of course, you can’t have the show hidden files and folders option turned on, or the file will continue to show up. Want to get really geeky? You can toggle hidden files with a shortcut key.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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