When you open Microsoft Word on your computer, you get quick access to several of its main functions right from your home screen. One of them is a list of recently used files for Microsoft Word. This option allows you to quickly access documents you’ve recently worked on, and clicking any of them opens the file in the program.
This is a pretty quick way to get back to work that you left unfinished last time. In fact, you save yourself the hassle of manually locating a document wherever it is stored on your computer. The program finds and displays this for you.
While this is a really useful feature, it may not be the case for some users. If you never use this list of recently used files in Word and do not want it to be there, you can turn it off in the program. You can also remove specific documents from the list if you don’t want to turn it off completely.
Delete one recently used file in Microsoft Word
If you only want to remove one or a few files from the list of recently used files in MS Word, you can do so by right-clicking the files and choosing the option you want. It removes your selected files from the list, and you can do this for any number of files.
- Start Microsoft Word on your computer.
- When it opens, you will most likely be taken to the home screen. On this screen you will find the “Recent” section, which shows all of your recent files created in the program.
To remove a file from the list, right-click the file and select Remove From List.
- The file will be deleted immediately without any prompts.
The next file in the list will take the place of the deleted file.
Remove all recently used files in Microsoft Word
If you don’t want any of your recent files to appear in the list, you can delete all files from there by choosing one option in Word. The entire list will be cleared and an empty section will appear on the home screen.
These steps should work for the latest version of MS Word 2019 / Office 365. If you are an Office 2016 user, skip to the next section.
- Open MS Word software on your computer.
- Although the ability to clear the entire recent list is built into Word, you won’t see it if you right-click any file on your desktop. You will first need to click on the desired option before it appears.
Click “Open” on the left sidebar of Word.
- A list of recent files will appear in the right pane. To remove all entries from this list, right-click any of the documents in the list and select Clear Unpinned Items.
- A message appears stating that all items from the list will be removed. Click the “Yes” button to continue.
You should find that your recent documents list is now empty.
Remove Recently Used Documents in Word 2016
If you are using Microsoft Word 2016, you can clear the entire list of recently used files in Word without going to the Open menu.
From the main screen of the program, right-click any of the recent documents and select “Clear loose items”. Click “Yes” on the next prompt and your list will be cleared.
As you can see, there isn’t much difference between completing a task in Office 2019 and Office 2016, but it’s good to know exactly where this setting is located in different software versions.
Disable the recently used files section in Microsoft Word
The Recently Used Files section in Word can be useful to many users, even if certain items have been removed from it. However, if you don’t use it at all and find that it takes up unnecessary space on your Word home screen, you can remove it from there.
The recent files section can be completely disabled, and for this the program has a built-in option. Also, if you ever decide to revert it, you can do so by undoing the change you made to the settings.
- Open Microsoft Word on your computer.
- On on the home screen, locate the Options option, usually located in the lower left corner, and click to open it.
- A window will open on the screen allowing you to manage multiple Word settings. You need to find the option labeled Advanced on the left sidebar and click on it. The option you want is found here.
- When it opens, scroll down until you find the section that says Display. There will be an entry titled “Show this number of recent documents” and a number will be listed next to it. What you want to do is decrease the number from the current one to 0 (zero). You can also directly enter 0 in the field.
- Click the OK button at the bottom to save your changes.
- The next time you run the program, you will find that there are no entries at all in the list.
What you actually did above was set the number of recent documents to zero and Word displayed zero (blank) entries on its main screen.
How to restore the list of recently used files in Word
If you ever need to return a list of recent documents, you can do so by opening the same Options panel and clicking Advanced.
Then enter the number of recent documents you want to view in the first parameter of the Display section and click OK. Your list should return.