How-To Geek

Clear Recent Commands From the Run Dialog in Windows XP

Has it ever bothered you that there isn’t an obvious way to remove the previous items in the Run box in Windows? It’s often very useful, of course… but if you are just a little bit paranoid you might want to clean out that list on occasion.

Of course there are many cleaner applications that will do this for you, but we’ll explain how to do it manually.


Clear Recent Run Dialog Entries Through Regedit

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu run box, and then navigate down to the following key:



You’ll see all your recent commands on the right, and you can delete any of the keys that contain your commands. You’ll have to logoff and then back on, but the list should be clean.

Note that this will also work for Windows Vista’s Run dialog, although most people have switched to using the search box instead.

Completely Clear Recent Run Dialog Entries The Easier Way

Reader Ayush pointed out a much more easy solution that this registry hack-happy geek overlooked.

Right-click on the taskbar and choose Properties, then choose Start Menu.


Select the “Classic Start menu” option, and choose the Customize button. (Don’t worry, we’ll cancel out of the dialogs so you can keep the XP menu style)

Now just click the Clear button to remove all of the recent documents and applications from the start menu.


Once you’ve done that, hit Cancel and then Cancel again to make sure you don’t switch to the Classic Start menu.

Note that this method will clear out everything… so if you just want to remove a single entry you need to use the registry hack method.

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 01/13/08

Comments (31)

  1. Ayush

    You can also clear it from Customize Classic Start Menu dialog-
    Start Menu Properties > Classic Start Menu – Customize.. > Clear > Cancel > Cancel (to close the dialogs)

  2. The Geek


    Good catch… adding that to the article.

    It’s great to have readers like you around =)

  3. Planet Lowyat

    It would be great if I can save my history as a file for backup automatically.

  4. Trimay Mishra

    I want to read & write files in Linux from xp.I have downloaded some softwares but it shows me “Access Denied”. So is there any method or softwares for the above purpose like opening a window where i can run linux commands????



  5. jesse

    sometimes when I’m trying to delete files from the media player i get a pop up error window that reads “Microsoft visual ++++error” what do I do.

  6. Kern Davis

    Run Menu clean out instructions are very much appreciated. I’ll also add the same steps also work fine in Windows 98 2nd edition. I learned this one about 5 yrs ago from the Jeff Levi radio show. I printed it and thught it was put away in my puter reference storage box. It was not there. So lucky and very pleased to find it here.

    Sincerely (mean it) literally) Thankyou
    Kern L. Davis

  7. Kern Davis

    Also works in Win 98 SE just fine. Learned it 5 yrs. ago from the Jeff Levie puter radio show. Lost it and the lucky found it here.

    Sincerely Appreciate
    Kern L. Davis

  8. Michele

    THANK YOU for this info!!!

  9. devendusv

    If a clear the run box using regedit, the current items in the dropdown list will be deleted. Also new items will never be saved. How can I enable the run box to save the newly typed commands?

  10. vpn

    However the regedit was the one which worked for me(ie., clear the list in the Run Menu).
    The GUI method only cleared the recent documents list. (windows XP SP2)

  11. Deyaa Addeen Fahmy Shedeed


  12. Troy

    (NOVICE here ok)…From Start of my XP, go to RUN, and I’ve cleared both Temp and Temp% on occassion. There was a 3rd clear option on the RUN but I forgot what it is. It was something like “perfech, prefech, purtech”…Does anyone know what it is please? Help!

  13. Kamal

    can u create a Shortcut (batch file/scripts file), to clear run command via double click

  14. jalonzo

    In respect to Ayush, doesn’t ‘Start Menu Properties > Start Menu– Customize.. > Advanced > Clear List’ do the same thing? If not, how is it different?

  15. glad2know

    In XP in the RUN command type ‘recent’ hit Enter, delete all the entries in the upcoming windows!

    something like “perfech, prefech, purtech”…Does anyone know what it is please? Help!


  16. Romal Naseri

    Tnx buddy,
    Thats too cute,

    can u expalain a way to prevent RUN dialog box from listing the opened programs???????

    Is their anyway to prevent recent opened programs from being added to the recent folder?

    Thanx again 4 help!

  17. Ashish

    Thanks a lot friend………. can you please explain me about return.exe of run menu……… please send in detail about return.exe at my e-mail add……….. THANKS

  18. karthick

    very super sir ……….
    it is best idea…………………

  19. ki

    But its not working all, when I type / or // for root directory in Run box, it shows some file & site address which I visited. Is there any other solution please?

  20. Aman Kumar

    thnx a lot…

  21. hitechKhiladi

    In Run Copy and Paste the Below Code


    reg delete HKCU\software\microsoft\windows\currentVersion\Explorer\RunMRU


    Right click Start button >> Properties >> Customize(Start Menu) >> Click on Clear button

  22. kevin

    @ki — to delete the other stuff from the Run menu, like URL’s, you need to open the Internet Options control panel, and delete the browsing History. goofy, but it worked for me. hope it works for you.

  23. Milo

    thanks buddy its done

  24. kaushal nayak

    it works..thanks dear…

  25. Sunil

    I like to know how to enable Run command history. So normaly when you go to start =>RUN it shows history. But I have a laptop with XP which does not keep history after reboot. Every time the laptop is rebooted it clears the history. How do i enable it to keep history please?

  26. Sunil

    Thanks, I managed to find out from another blog.
    Its to do with XP and IE8. If you have ticked “delete browsing history on exit” in IE8 then this for some reason also deletes the RUN history.
    In Windows 7 it is fine.

  27. Cole

    WOW! as stupid as this sounds this is the single best website on the internet for help…thank you guys SOOOO much

  28. Praveen

    It ‘ really usefull and best answer.


  29. Junaid Khawar

    It is very useful and to the point, eazy solution…..
    I’am very thankful for such a gooood Post……


    sometimes when I’m trying to delete files from the media player i get a pop up error window that reads “Microsoft visual ++++error” what do I do

  31. Philosopher

    As kevin said, it worked for me for my Windows Vista system. Great Kevin.


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