Software Windows

How do you clear Recent Files in Windows 10?

clear Recent Files
Your little secret: don't reveal your files to all

Imagine the scenario. You’re working on a redundancy package for one of your team. You’re not quite ready to inform the poor member of staff before you host a team meeting, delivering a presentation from your laptop. You open File Explorer to find the presentation and there – in your list of recent files – is the giveaway document…

The whole room is looking at the projected screen in complete silence. A tear drops from Dave’s eye. A-W-K-W-A-R-D.

How do you avoid such excruciating mishaps and clear Recent Files in Windows 10?

Clear Recent Files in Windows 10

To simply clear the Recent Files list but keep the feature running, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer (the easiest way is by clicking the folder icon in the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen – or press Windows+E at the same time)
  2. Click File in the top-left corner of the window
  3. Select “Change folder and search options”
  4. Next to “Clear File Explorer history”, click the Clear button (as shown below)
Clear recent files

As you can see from the screenshot above, recently accessed files can also appear in the Quick Access section of File Explorer. Hitting Clear will remove it from Quick Access too, but if you want to avoid the risk of documents reappearing there, untick the two boxes under Privacy.

How to switch off Recent Files in Windows 10

If you never use Recent Files and want Windows to stop tracking what you’ve been working on altogether, you might as well switch the feature off.

To turn off Recent Files:

  1. Type ‘recently’ into the Windows search bar and you should see an option to open the setting called “how recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar”
  2. Click this to off

This, as the name suggests, will also switch off the lists of recently opened docs that you get when you right-click on, say, the Word or Excel icons on the taskbar, as well as switching off Recent Items in Explorer. The simple act of clicking Off will clear all those lists, so make sure you really want to do it before you commit.

Now read this: How do I remove items from the Windows 10 Timeline?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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