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:
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:
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:
Click on the Advanced tab:
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:
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:
Once you're in the group policy editor, expand un turn User Configuration, Administrative Templates, and then Start Menu and Taskbar:
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:
Click on "Enabled", and click on OK.
This setting requires that you reboot before it takes effect. Once you do:
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":
Navigate to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer:
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.