How to clear recently opened file list in Word

When you use the . Start Microsoft Word program on your computer, you get quick access to several of the most important functions, right on the home screen. One is the list of recently used files for Microsoft Word. This option gives you quick access to the documents you’ve been working on recently, and clicking one of them will open the file in the program.

It’s a pretty quick way to get back to work that you didn’t finish last time. You save yourself the trouble of finding the document manually, wherever it is stored on your computer. The software finds and displays that for you.

While it is a very useful feature, it may not be so for some users. If you are someone who never uses this list of recently used files in Word and would rather not have it there, you can disable it in the program. You can also remove specific documents from the list if you don’t want to disable them completely.

Clear a single recently used file in Microsoft Word

If it is just one or a few files that you want to remove from the list of recently used files in MS Word, you can do so by right-clicking on the files and selecting an option. It removes your chosen files from the list and you can do it for as many files as you want.

  • The file will be deleted immediately without any prompts.

The next file in the list will take the place of the deleted file.

Delete all recently used files in Microsoft Word

If you don’t want for one of your recent files to appear in the list, you can delete all files there by selecting a single option in Word. It will clean up the entire list and give you a blank area on the home screen.

These steps should work for the latest MS Word 2019/Office 365. If you are an Office 2016 user, skip to the next section.

  • Your list of recent files will appear in the right pane. To delete all items from this list, right-click on one of the documents in the list and select Clear unpinned items
  • A prompt will appear stating that all items will be removed from the list. Click on the Yes button to continue.

You should find that your Recent Documents list is now empty.

Delete the recently used documents in Word 2016

If you are using Microsoft Word 2016, you can clear the entire list of recently used files in Word without going to the Open menu.

While on the software home screen, right click on one of your recent documents and select Clear unpinned items† Touch Yes in the prompt that follows and your list will be cleared.

As you can see, there isn’t a huge difference between doing the task in Office 2019 and Office 2016, but it’s good to know exactly where the option is in different versions of the software.

Disable the Recently used files section in Microsoft Word

The Recently Used Files section in Word can be useful to many users, even if certain items have been removed from it. However, if you don’t use it at all and find that it takes up unnecessary space on the Word home screen, you can even have it removed there.

The recent files section can be turned off completely and there is a built-in option in the software to do this. If you ever decide to get it back, you can also do it by undoing the change you made to the settings.

  • Open Microsoft Word on your computer.
  • On the home screen, look for the option that says Optionsusually in the lower left corner, and click on it to open it.
  • A window will open on your screen where you can manage various Word settings. You should find the option that says: Advanced in the left sidebar and click on it. The option you’re looking for is right there.
  • When it opens, scroll down until you find the section that says Display† There will be an item called Show this number of recent documents and then a number next to it. What you want to do is decrease the number from whatever it is now to 0 (zero). You can also type directly 0 in the field.
  • Click on the Okay button at the bottom to save the changes.
  • The next time you start the program, you will see that there are no items in the list at all.

Basically what you did above was set the number of recent documents to zero and Word showed zero (empty) entries on the home screen.

How to get back the list of recently used files in Word

If you ever need to get back the list of recent documents, you can do it by opening the same one Options panel and then click Advanced

Then enter the number of recent documents you want to see in the Display section’s first option and press Okay† Your list should be back.

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