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How to Get Rid of Recently Opened File Lists

Even though the file may be gone, deleted, and dead with no possibility of recovery, its name still stubbornly appears in one of those recently opened files menus. The official name for the list of recent files is the MRU list. MRU stands for most recently used, and Windows has a lot of MRU lists.

The easiest way to purge the list is to set the number of entries to zero and then reset the number of entries to whatever it was before. For example, in Office 2007, the general steps to follow are these:

  1. From the Office Button menu, click the Options button.

    It says Word Options in Word, Excel Options in Excel, and so on.

  2. Choose the Advanced item on the left side of the Options window.

  3. Under the Display heading, set the number of recent documents to zero.

  4. Click OK.

  5. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 and set the number of recent documents back to 17, or whatever it was before you zeroed it out.

  6. Click OK.

Although this action effectively eliminates the list, it isn’t picky. To be picky, you have to get technical and use the Registry Editor to find and eliminate specific filenames from the MRUs. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Make a note of the filename you want to purge from an MRU.

  2. Press Win+R to summon the Run dialog box.

  3. Type regedit and press Enter.

  4. If prompted, click the Yes button, type the administrator’s password, or click the Continue button.

    The Registry Editor runs.

  5. Press Ctrl+F to summon the Find dialog box.

  6. Type in the Find box the filename you want to purge, and press Enter.

    The Registry is searched for that filename.

  7. When the filename is found, delete the entry from the Registry: Highlight the filename on the right side of the window and press the Delete key.

  8. Close the Registry window.

The change doesn’t appear until you restart the application that listed the missing file.

If the text isn’t found, it’s probably listed in the Registry with its full pathname and not just the filename. To aid your search, you can look for MRU lists in the Registry locations.

Registry Places to Find MRU Lists
Application Registry Location
Kodak Imaging HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Kodak\Imaging\Recent File List
Media Player HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\Player\RcentFileList
Microsoft Office HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\version\application\File MRU
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\version\application\Recent Files
Paint HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Widnows\CurrentVersion\Applets\Paint\Recent File List
Photoshop Elements HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\version\Common\settings\Elements MRU
Run dialog box HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\RunMRU
WordPad HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Applets\Wordpad\Recent File List
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