Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Documents, or my Recent Documents, is Windows trying to be helpful by making it easy to access recent work. Sometimes it's a little too visible.

When I click on the start menu there's a tab which reads "Documents". This tab keeps track of all the files I open, and I want to know how I can turn it off, or get rid of it all together.

It turns out that it's not all that hard to clear the list and if so desired, hide it as well.

It's called "Documents" on versions of Windows prior to XP, or if you've selected "Classic Start menu" in XP, it'll show as "My Recent Documents". Regardless of what it's called, if you click on Start and then hover you mouse over the menu item, you'll see a sub-menu pop out that includes some of the documents most recently opened through many Windows programs:

Start Menu showing Documents sub menu

Not everyone wants their most recent documents so easily visible to anyone who walks by.

The good news is that it's easy to clear. Removing it completely is just a little more work.

To clear your recent document history, right click on Start and click on Properties. You'll have either Start Menu or Classic Start Menu selected; click the corresponding Customize button. Here's the resulting dialog for the Classic Start Menu:

Classic Start Menu properties

I've highlighted the relevant section: click on the Clear button to clear the recent documents list.

In the default (not classic) Start Menu, the setting is one more level down. When you click on Properties, you'll see this dialog:

Start Menu Properties

Click on the Advanced tab:

Start Menu Properties Advanced

Click the Clear List button to clear the list.

To turn off the recent document history, things get just a little more complicated. Maybe.

That last dialog we pictured had something interesting in it:

Start Menu Properties Advanced highlighting the list document option

If you use the default Start Menu, this option does exactly what we want. Uncheck List my most recently opened documents and the "My Recent Documents" menu item will disappear.

Unfortunately that setting does not affect the Classic Start Menu so if you're using Classic Start Menu (as I am), things get more interesting.

If you're running Windows XP Pro, the safest way to make this, and many other configuration changes, is to use the Group Policy Editor. Click on Start, then Run... enter "gpedit.msc" and click on OK:

Run menu item with gpedit.msc

Once you're in the group policy editor, expand un turn User Configuration, Administrative Templates, and then Start Menu and Taskbar:

Group Policy Editor open on 'Remove Documents menu from Start Menu'

As you can see, there's a setting that sounds exactly like what we're looking for: Remove Documents menu from Start Menu. Double click on that to get:

Group Policy Editor editing 'Remove Documents menu from Start Menu'

Click on "Enabled", and click on OK.

This setting requires that you reboot before it takes effect. Once you do:

Start Menu, showing no Documents item

You'll notice that there's no "Documents" item.

If you're running Windows XP Home you may not have the group policy editor. That means you'll need to edit the registry directly - be sure to back it up first.

Start, Run, "regdt32":

Start Run of regedt32

Navigate to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer:

Registry Editor open on Explorer Policies

Double click on No RecentDocsMenu and set the Value Data to 1. Click OK, and close registry editor.

As before, a reboot might be required before this setting change takes effect.

Article C3124 - August 21, 2007 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

25 Comments
Roland
August 22, 2007 8:31 AM

Reboot might be avoided by using
GPupdate /force

Manu
August 22, 2007 12:35 PM

Messing around with gpedit.msc and regdt32 can screw up your system real bad. so be careful.

I'd rather use the TweakUI
tool from Microsoft that let's you explore a hundred other hidden features in WinXP, without you having to dig deeep into Windows.

Salvador
August 22, 2007 4:00 PM

I did this once and Adobe Premiere stopped working. I dunno why, it just did. Looked for the error code and it said removing the documents and such was the cause.

zh00yi
August 23, 2007 6:16 AM

Thank you very much!!!
This is what I want..:)

Sidney
August 31, 2007 8:21 PM

Thanks so much for direction to the Group Policy editor. Thanks to you, I cleared both "Documents" and "Log Off..." from my Start menu. This was after vainly spending several hours perusing my O'Reilly Windows XP Hacks book and searching The Elder Geek website.

Ken Crook
September 1, 2007 11:52 PM

I am running Windows XP Home edition, Classic Start Menu
But on my start menu I do not have the listing for "Documents" as shown in the first image.
How do I add this "Documents" listing on my Start menu?

Eric Bono
September 6, 2007 12:09 PM

While tweaking Win Xp (including the tweak shown above), I somehow must have corrupted the registry.

Now, when I try to access the group policy dialog box (run>gpedit.msc) I get an error which says "Snap-in failed to initialize"...
The group policy dialog box comes up with a big red X symbol and states this error: "Snap-in creation failed. The snap-in is not created, it may not be installed properly. Name: Group Policy Object Editor. CLSID: {8FCOB734-AOE1-11D1-A7D3-OOOOF87571E3}"

I have done this tweak on other computers, here in our small office, with no incident.

Any help on restoring this would be greatly appreciated.

Derrick4Real
September 28, 2007 7:45 PM

Wow...thanks so much. Who needs Tweak XP"...you can do it all right from there.

Much appreciated!!!

kunal
October 27, 2007 10:54 PM

Thanks a million.........it helped me remove certain things i didnt want others 2 see......thnx

Yuta
November 3, 2007 9:24 AM

You can let Winfilter help remove any item from the Start menu. For detail, you can check its website http://updownsoft.com. I am one of its users and think it is very helpful.

Nigel
March 7, 2008 12:40 PM

Note that "Remove Documents menu from Start Menu" will remove not only recent documents, but the entire douments folder. To just remove recent documents from the classic start menu there is another option in the same section of group policy editor, "Do not keep history of recently opened documents". That way, you documents folder remains, but without the list of recently accessed documents.

My problem is the other way round!
April 7, 2008 5:40 AM

Hi

I'm using XP Pro, SP 2
When I go Start/Documents
I don't see any of my new Office 2007 files.

Obviously, they're in the relevant "Recent Files" list in the program itself, Word, Excel or Access.

But they're not in the Recent Dcouments Folder.

Any idea why not ???

Thanks

Eoin

NC White
June 29, 2008 9:54 AM

I use Windows XP Pro and every file, folder or drive I go to shows up in both RECENT and MY RECENT DOCUMENTS AS SHORTCuTS.
I do not like having all of these shortcuts in my computer. I have been going to SEARCH and typing RECENT and then I just delete them all. I do not know if I am doing the right thing. I would like to know how to stop these shortcuts from going into them. I prefer to make my own shortcuts. HELP!

deidei
July 3, 2008 6:04 PM

i appreciate this website.. i've learn many things in this website.. more power and thank you very much

Jim
August 24, 2008 8:36 PM

Wow! Thanks a ton! I finally don't have that annoying "Documents" option on my classic start menu!

Thanks again!

tujula
August 29, 2008 12:54 AM

Big thanks! This helps me to prevent domestic troubles :D

John Gonzalez
October 14, 2008 1:54 PM

ihave the same question about erasing sites or pics from my startmenu documents page but i have win2k not xp and could not figure out how to do this......Thanx Leo........

Michael H
December 11, 2008 6:15 AM

I was wondering if you could offer up a good explanation as to why your pc sometimes locks up when navigating to the documents folder from the start menu. Is windows trying to access a shortcut to a document that was either removed or maybe was on a network resource that's no longer available? Does that make any sense? Any input would be appreciated..

More often than not, it's due to the network resource issue, though not necessarily "unavailable". Windows automatically disconnects (or delays reconnecting) connections that are inactive. When you pop open the menu that might contain remote resources, it then has to go through the (sometimes time consuming) steps of reconnecting to locate the document.
- Leo
11-Dec-2008

Donald Stevens
February 3, 2009 8:51 AM

I want to remove my Start Completely off of the computer, thanks Donald Stevens.

Daniel
April 8, 2009 9:54 AM

If you have the Classic Start Menu and you use gpedit.msc or the registry to turn of the My Documents folder, will it still be disabled if you then switch to Normal Start Menu? If it is still disabled, can you enabled it with the Customize > Advanced options for the Normal Start Menu? Or do you have to go back into the registry and change it back?

Richard FDisk
May 6, 2009 8:41 PM

No GPedit in XP Home (so home users are supposed to know how to edit the registry; good one MS)
There are a couple of extra settings that I found on my XP Pro system that are helpful for keeping the system private:

> User Configuration
-> Administrative Templates
--> Start Menu & Task Bar section

- Clear Document History at Log off
(Clear history of recently opened documents on exit.)

- Do not keep history of recently opened documents
(Prevents the operating system and installed programs from creating and displaying shortcuts to recently opened documents.)

- Turn off user tracking
(Disables user tracking. This setting prevents the system from tracking the programs users run, the paths they navigate, and the documents they open...)

Sandy
November 5, 2009 7:50 AM

I have followed all the steps for both types of start menus including 'Clear Document History at Log Off', "Do not keep history of recently opened documents' and 'Turn off user tracking'. I have rebooted in order for the changes to take effect however the system seems to be returning to default settings and the changes I made are showing again as not configured. I am using XP Pro... any ideas?

Suzanne
August 13, 2010 12:15 PM

I have read the above instructions to turn off the Recent Documents History. I am running win xp Home and the Classic Start Menu. Navigating all the way to \POLICIES\EXPLORER, there is no "NORECENTDOCSMENU" in the right pane anywhere. Now what do I do? Please help. Thanks.

sheikh
June 17, 2012 6:20 PM

hi, I am new in server 2003. i have a machine which is my server 2003 R2 standard and a client machine which has XP SP2. I want to remove my document from my start menu when a user logs in. can anyone pls tell me how can i do that?

Raj
October 26, 2012 6:08 AM

thanks a lot for helping to remove 'my recent documents'

regards

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.