I can find recent items settings, but these seem to only let me see recent items opened on a per-app basis i.e. I can look at my Microsoft Word icon and see recent documents opened by Word.

I can't see anywhere a simple "these are the last 10 documents/files you opened with any application" which is handy if I don't pin the apps in question to my startbar. This used to exist under Windows XP as "My Recent Documents":


Is there a way to get this functionality?

For example: I open doc.docx, sheet.xlsl, options.txt, picture.bmp with different tools and then see these items listed in one place indicating the files I most recently opened?

  • 4
    You could pin the folder C:\Users\<username\Recent to you favorites. (Note that this is a shortcut to C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent and hidden by default but you can just type it and choose Pin to Quick access or right-click the folder and Pin to start. It's not exactly the same but it gives you the complete "recent" list.
    – Rik
    Sep 26 '16 at 14:15
  • 4
    Open Explorer, it should default to "Quick Access" which includes a Recent Files list. Sep 26 '16 at 14:30
  • @Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 I think this is a valid answer. It gives me exactly just what I want, but I still have to open Explorer. I wasn't aware of this previously, it might be a suitable workaround.
    – Mr. Boy
    Sep 26 '16 at 14:32
  • 1
    You can access recent documents of recently used application by clicking the right arrow next to it. Sep 27 '16 at 12:03
  • Related: superuser.com/questions/1002006/…
    – leonbloy
    Sep 27 '16 at 19:08

I believe the "new thinking" at Microsoft during the redesign of the Start Menu was that if you want to access "files", then open File Explorer to access them, instead of the Start Menu.

To that end, when you open Explorer, it will default to "Quick Access" which includes the list of Recent Files. E.g.:

enter image description here

  • I actually like the new way of getting to my recent documents. Using explorer to browse files is less prone to mistakes and more detailed than using a sub-item on the Start Menu.
    – T. Sar
    Sep 27 '16 at 17:50
  • 3
    which can be accessed by pressing Windows+E
    – chaosflaws
    Sep 28 '16 at 7:35

Method 1: Use the Run box

  • Open the Run box with the keyboard shortcut Winkey+R
  • Enter shell:recent

The folder listing all your recent items will open. The list can be quite long and may contain items that are not so recent. You may even want to delete some.

Note that the contents of the Recent Items folder is different from the contents of the File Explorer entry "Recent Places", which contains folders that have been visited rather than files. They often have quite different contents.

Method 2: Make a desktop shortcut to the folder “Recent Items”

If you like to look at the contents of Recent Items on a frequent basis, you may want to create a shortcut on the desktop.

  • Right-click the desktop
  • In the context menu, choose New
  • Select Shortcut
  • In the box “Type the location of the item”, enter %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\

  • Click Next

  • Name the shortcut “Recent items” or name of your choice
  • Click Finish

You can also pin this shortcut to the task bar or place in some other convenient location.

Method 3: Add “Recent Items” to the Quick Access Menu

The Quick Access Menu (also called Power User’s Menu) is another possible place to add an entry for Recent Items. This is the menu opened by the keyboard shortcut Winkey+X Use the path:


Contrary to some articles on the Internet, you cannot simply add shortcuts to the folder that is used by the Quick Access Menu. For security reasons, Windows will not allow additions unless the shortcuts contain certain code. The utility Win+X Menu Editor takes care of that.

Reference: Three Ways to Easily Access Your Most Recent Documents and Files in Windows 8.x (the original article was for Windows 8.1. But this works on Windows 10 at the time of writing)

  • 2
    %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming is just %AppData%.
    – MSalters
    Sep 26 '16 at 14:54
  • true. i have updated the answer accordingly. thanks! :)
    – thilina R
    Sep 26 '16 at 14:56
  • 3
    I wish I could upvote this 3 times for each method. Knowing about Win+X just made my day.
    – CPHPython
    Sep 28 '16 at 9:43
  • Haha ! WIndows becomes a CLI-centric OS ! Revenge of the Unix hackers !
    – MikeW
    Oct 31 '18 at 10:33
  • @thilinaR With Win+X Menu Editor on Windows 10 I do not seem to succeed adding the Recent folder or any other folder via "Add a program". Can you explain how you did it ?
    – elig
    Jun 15 '20 at 1:33

snapshot of radial button

Open the file explorer:

  • select view tab
  • select options on the far right: this opens a dialogue
    • under privacy you can select to show the recent folders or files.

right click on the app in the start menu to see recent docs. I only just got Windows 10, and first was frustrated that the recent docs weren't right there like in windows 7, so started searching the internet for options and found this thread. Then I happened to right click, and boom, recent docs were right there. Example_start_menu_right_click

  • Interesting, though only for one app at a time. Similar to rt-clicking on apps that are pinned to task bar. Dec 1 '18 at 9:48

If you don't want to open the Explorer each time, use StartIsBack++, it brings back the Vista/Windows7 startmenu

enter image description here

and here you can activate Recent Items gain in the configuration.

If you prefer the XP style startmenu, install ClassicShell.


Another way of quickly getting to recent files in Windows 10:

  1. Add shortcuts your commonly used applications to the task bar. For instance, Word, Excel, etc.

  2. Then at any time right-click the application icon in the task bar.

Then you can immediately view a list of all the recent files that you have used in that application.


I simply right-clicked on the Taskbar, go to Toolbars, New Toolbar...and put in the local address to the Recent folder. Now I get access to the entire list, regardless of the program used.

enter image description here


A better choice than shell:Recent, which seems to be the raw data used to populate Quick Access, is the "Recent Items Instance Folder" (shell:::{4564b25e-30cd-4787-82ba-39e73a750b14}). This can be added to the Navigation Pane (on a per-user basis) witht he follwoing .reg file. Copy the code into a text editor, save as a .reg file, then right-click the file & select Merge. It adds the folder to the Navigation Pane, gives it a display name of "Recent Files" and a custom icon, and increases the number of items displayed from 20 to 50.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


@="Recent Files"





enter image description here


Click in the box "Type here to search" or "Ask me anything" that is next to the START button. Cortana home opens.Cortana search It lists the last file or two you were using.

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