You may have noticed that in Word, Excel and all other Office programs, there is a list of recently used or opened documents in the File menu. It’s kind of like the Recent Items features on the Windows 7 Start Menu.

However, if you want to remove the recently used file list so that it does not show up at all, you can set an option to show zero recent documents.

Office 2013/2016

In Office 2013 and 2016, you have to click on File and then Options.

Next, click on Advanced and then scroll down to the Display section.

Change Show this number of Recent Documents to 0. Also, you can set Show this number of unpinned Recent Folders to 0. Lastly, make sure Quickly access this number of Recent Documents is unchecked.

Office 2007/2010

In Office 2007 and 2010, the procedure is mostly the same, except for the first part.

recently used file list

Step 1: Click on the Office button at the top left of Word and click on Word Options.

word options

Step 2: Click on Advanced in the left hand column and then scroll down to the Display section.

word display options

For “Show this number of Recent Documents“, change the value to 0 to completely remove the recent documents list from the menu.

Office XP/2003

If you have Office 2003 or XP, the method to remove recent documents is slightly different. Basically, whichever Office program you are using, you need to go into the Options panel and there will be an option of how many items you want in the list.

For example, in Microsoft Project, go to Tools and then Options.

tools options office

For Project, the option is on the General tab. You can either adjust the number of documents on the recently used file list or uncheck it to remove it altogether.

recently used file list word

That’s it! Now you won’t see any recently opened files in your Office programs. Note that if you want to remove SINGLE items from the recently used file list, you can do so by going into the registry.

Browse to the following registry key and delete the items you want to remove manually (This only works on older versions of Office):

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\File MRU

filemru

Delete the entries and then restart Word. Now this was for Word 2007, however, you can go to 11.0 for Word 2003, 10.0 for Word XP, etc depending on which version you have installed. Also, instead of going to Word, you can go to Excel, Powerpoint and do the same thing there. In this way, you can still keep your recent documents list, but remove only the entries you don’t want.

Note that all of the methods above will not clear out the recent documents list that shows up in the taskbar jumplists. That is what appears when you right-click on an icon in your taskbar and it gives you custom commands for that program. In Word, it also shows you some recent documents.

If you want to clear this list too, make sure you read my post on clearing jumplists in Windows. Enjoy!